Joseph Fielding: just Joe
In a singularly marked manner, Mr Fielding is one of those men who are not known without the addition of the Christian name. I could quote many other instances where the Christian name is never omitted when speaking of a man, for example, Harry Hornby, and Henry Harrison, Jack Smith, Jim Thompson, and George Green, and others who have occupied the Mayoral Chair before Joe Fielding. Rich and poor, friends and strangers, use the Christian name habitually, and there is no disrespect in doing so. The name is part of the man's distinctive character. Long ago, when he was giving personal attention to business behind the counter, he got in a company of Blackburn people at Blackpool, and was so much puzzled by the features of one well-dressed young lady that he introduced himself to her with the remark: "I am sure I know you, but for the life of me I cannot recall your name." "Whey!" was the response, in broad Lancashire, "Aren'd yo' Joe at t'shop?" She was one of his customers, but he did not know her in all her Blackpool finery. A few months ago he was distributing certificates to mothers who had made use of the Maternity Centre, one of the educational institutions of the Health Committee of which he is Chairman. More than one of the mothers, as she came on the platform to receive her child's certificate at the Chairman's hands, greeted him more or less "sotto voce" with, "hello, Joe," or some other such friendly claim to his acquaintance. A friend of mine quite recently received a call from Mrs Randal Fielding while she had an inquisitive charlady in the house. When the visitor had gone, the charlady asked, "Who was that lady?" Knowing that she would never rest content until she was answered, my friend replied good naturedly, "Oh, that is Mrs Randal Fielding." "And who is she?" "Why, you know, Alderman Fielding's daughter-in-law." "Alderman Fielding," replied the charlady, puzzling her brain with though, "Do yo' mean Joe?" My friend admitted that she did mean "Joe" and the charlady's inquisitiveness was satisfied.
Just one more story to illustrate the same point. On Thursday last week my friend above referred to - let us call her Mrs Smith, since that is her name - was stopped in the street by another friend who asked her if she had heard the news of Mr Fielding's selection to be the Mayor. She wouldn't believe it. She knew Joe had been asked more than once before and that he wouldn't take it. But just at that moment a newsboy called out the extra special of the evening paper, adding as a bait to attract customers, "Choice of the new Mayor!" "Here," said Mrs Smith, "Let's have a paper and see if it's true." The boy sold the paper, and after pocketing his penny, remarked, "It's nod i' th' paper, but aw can tell yo' who id is. It's Joe Fielding."
I have left myself no room to speak of Mr Fielding's work on the Corporation during the last twenty years. His most important work was as Chairman of the Highway Committee, the greatest spending department of the Corporation. Of late years it has been as Chairman of the Health Committee which has introduced new developments in municipal sanitary work that have brought Blackburn into the forefront of the important country boroughs. It is Mr Fielding's boast that never in all his experience has a recommendation of his committee been sent back by the Town Council for reconsideration, but he tells his Committee and his officers that this reputation must be lived up to, that far from thinking that they can get anything through because he is Chairman, they must be very careful never to make a recommendation until it has been thoroughly thrashed out in the office and in Committee, and when put before the Council is beyond criticism and above rejection.
by Jonathan George Shaw