Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Lines of work - thinking it through

Reflections 1972 Battle of Saltley Gate – 1984 Battle of Orgreave
1972 Saltley, flying pickets sleeping on bedsit floors, students on the picket line shoulder to shoulder with the miners, amidst the three day week and power cuts.  At the Co-op Dairy (now closed)  we work seven days, cows don’t stop making milk.  No power cuts but no heating and working by torchlight when necessary it’s February and cold.
1978 Grimethorpe colliery.  Helmet lamp and tally stepping into the cage with much trepidation, plummeted into the bowels of the earth and a mile walk to the coal face.  Eyes on the ground eyes on the roof, thankful for the helmet.  Hands and knees across the coal face, I’m only 5’-2’’,the next slice is cut, the props removed and the roof dropped.  Scary.  Back on the surface there’s nowhere for women to wash.
1979 – Tony Benn speaks at the Miners Gala in Lock Park – absolutely no recall of what he said, but I do retain the images of the procession with the Miners Banners.

1984 – Barnsley.  The world has changed since Saltley; new legislation about picketing the Government’s prepared.  I’m working at the County Council (that’s gone too).  County Hall, Soup Kitchen on the Members Car Park, proud men digging for fuel on the muck stacks, the miners stand together.  Elsewhere opinions are divided, the Government’s not going to move.  County Engineers daily counting the cost of damage.  No hope no prospects Margaret Thatcher will not suffer the same fate as Ted Heath.

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