The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
On the run from the Cameron Highlanders, in which he had impulsively enlisted at the age of 16, George Dickie - the "Geordie" of the title - changed his name to Jack Brent as he passed through the London area of that name.
That's just the first of many incidents in Jack Brent's short but action-packed life in this affectionate memoir by his nephew John Dickie.
Brent joined the International Brigades and was severely wounded in the hip and abdomen while attempting to rescue a wounded comrade at the battle of Jarama. He faced excruciating pain and increasing incapacity for the rest of his life with supreme courage.
Friends supplied him with vital reading material for self-education during his all too frequent stays in hospital. Previously he had been a socialist by instinct, reacting to a life of childhood poverty in Whithorn, Scotland, but after reading books by communists and other progressive authors, he joined the Communist Party.
Invariably cheerful and optimistic, Bent possessed boundless energy and capacity for hard work. Secretary of the International Brigade Association for several years during the second world war, his unorthodox methods to bring aid to former International Brigaders imprisoned in France, Spain and north Africa helped some to escape.
After the war, Bent spent time in hospital in Prague and he died during a visit to Whithorn in 1951, aged only 39.