The Necktie Man: The young Windrush emigree who became a working-class hero. Journeyed in innocence to destiny itself; union man turned senator.
This autobiography by Navel (Neville) Foster Clarke, neatly titled ‘The Necktie Man,’ is the illuminating story of a young black man who sailed to Britain from Jamaica in 1955 on the now legendary SS Castle Verde, an Italian registered vessel to start a new life. In his own words he described the event as “perhaps not a good idea, especially for a teenager. My limited life experiences and the unknown expectations of the future created bewilderment of an unimaginable dimension. The journey to a country so far from home took great courage and commitment to overcome the challenges as they arose.” They certainly did, as this expose of the time by Clarke recounts.
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Date for your diaries guys. Ticket only event so please register early. 1 – 2 Ebony Consortium members social with refreshments. 2 – 3.45 Book launch and signing. More info to follow. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-necktie-book-launch-an-autobiography-of-a-windrush-teenager-tickets-171766757997
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United Kingdom – “The Windrush odyssey depicting the existential experience of life in Britain, led a young Navel Clarke to quickly conform to its hurried pace and discover for himself his true purpose in life,” writes Danny Roberts, CD JP, Head of the Hugh Shearer Labour Studies Institute at the University of the West Indies in his endorsement of the autobiography ‘The Necktie Man’ by Navel (Neville) Clarke. “His account of his experience and rise to prominence as an advocate of the working class, spurred him, on his return to Jamaica, to continue the struggle with an intensity of desire and determination, which led him to organise Jamaica’s largest white-collar union, UCASE, and demonstrated the discipline and tenacity in his advocacy, as a law maker, on behalf of the labour movement.”
In his opening chapter to ‘The Necktie Man’, subtitled ‘The Sentimental Journey of a Windrush teenager & trade union pioneer,’ Navel recalls his journey to Britain from the West Indies 65 years ago: “It was indeed a challenging time but during my journey and prolonged stay in England for 20 years, I succeeded in breaking down barriers and establishing a platform on which others of my race could build in the future
The book would definitely be an asset for educational purposes and an inspirational autobiography of note.
Synopsis of ‘The Necktie Man’ by Navel (Neville) Clarke:
Navel (Neville) Clarke was just a boy when the opportunity to experience life in the leading first world country presented itself. Leaving the comfort and security of a familiar place, Navel answered the call and journeyed to what became for him and many others a cold, and somewhat unfriendly place.
Over the years, even as he gave up his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer, he embraced an even more important role: pioneer and trendsetter for people of his colour but somehow, having succeeded at that, in fine style too, the annals of history are bereft of his accomplishments. Having a vision and working hard at it are important, specifically taking steps to preserve your legacy, especially if you happen to achieve your greatness in ‘another country.’ The unexpected involvement of black migrants in the national affairs of England in the period described as ‘The Windrush Era’ resulted in a total disregard by the historians of the day. Consequently, the younger generation of migrants found it necessary to tell the story of their role in the early development of England after the Second World War.
Clarke’s progression from a Shop Steward to a professional trade unionist was at the expense of becoming a mechanical engineer and is thus documented in this biographical exposé.
About the author:
Navel Clarke migrated to England in 1955. He joined the Transport and General (TGWU) and The British Labour Party in 1960 before being elected Shop Steward at the Glacier Metal Company a year later. In 1965 he became a member of the planning committee for the merged boroughs of Willesden and Wembley in the formation of the Borough of Brent; the same year Clarke was appointed the TGWU delegate to the Brent Trade Council.
In 1969 he was elected General Secretary of the Brent Trade Council and appointed national organiser of the People National Party of Jamaica to England by the then Prime Minister of the country, Michael Manley. Between 1970 and 71 Mr Clarke attended Ruskin College, Oxford before being recruited by Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica to the National Workers Union (NWU) in 1974. The following year he returned to Jamaica to join the National Workers Union. Mr Clarke was further elected Deputy General Secretary of the NWU in 1978 and was then made General Secretary in 2010, a role from which he retired in 2012.
He was appointed Senator in the Parliament of Jamaica in 1993 and then Deputy President of the Senate between 1995 to 2007. Mr Clarke retired from the Senate in 2016. He has been awarded National Honours in Jamaica – the Order of Distinction (OD) and Commander of Distinction (CD).
‘The Necktie Man’ (ISBN 9789768309013) by Navel (Neville) Clarke is published by Pelican Publishers, Jamaica, and is available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle, RRP £18.17, and is also in eBook format at RRP £7.29. Details at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/NECKTIE-MAN-SENTIMENTAL-WINDRUSH-TEENAGER/dp/9768309016/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1630583031&sr=1-1
On 20th October 2021, Mr Clarke was invited to an informal discussion with the Mayor of Brent (Cllr Lia Colacicco); Leader of the Council (Cllr Muhammed Butt); Brent Deputy Leader (Margaret McLeannon) and Brent Chief Executive (Carolyn Downs) in attendance. There were much deliberations as to the history of Brent; particularly in the sixties; and the former Senator was called upon to deliver extracts from both his book and his personal experience of having lived in the borough for over 16 years.