the end

today is the end of coal mining in britain. some people have questioned as a middle-class indulgence the coverage which has mourned the end of that time. some have said ‘the greens and the lefties keep telling us we can’t burn coal’ ‘the miners complained about the danger and the conditions – why do they expect us to mourn this? the hypocrites!’


not ‘why?’ ‘what’

you have to know what we are mourning. we aren’t mourning the dirt, the smoke, the pollution. we aren’t mourning the blood, the broken bones, the history of men crushed deep underground or coughing their lungs up to pneumoconiosis (a word i learned young), the lines of women and children at the pithead waiting silent, grim-faced to see if fathers brothers husbands sons will walk out or be carried out to be washed and laid out one last time by mothers sisters wives daughters – women built that world as much as men did. we aren’t mourning the centuries of exploitation, the creaking of the pit props that gave some warning of collapse, the tommy shops where the men paid in tokens spent their pay on goods sold to them by the mine owner who wasn’t making enough capital on their blood already.

what i’m mourning is the loss of community – community above ground where they supported each other through strikes, through poverty, through the loss of breadwinners with little or no compensation, through every working day when the pit bell rang; community below ground where marrers spoke their own language, sweated together, looked out for each other, dug each other out and manged to survive in the earth’s dark places where men were never designed to go.

but they went there.

if you’re from a pit family, you know. you remember. and today we mourn. but more than that we respect what those men and women have done. i hope we move on – nobody should have to do the job the pitmen did, but it was a job; it was a job that lay at the heart of a community and many of those who walk out of kellingley for the last time today will never have another job; many of their communities have already been destroyed. today i want to celebrate the community, the job and the courage of the men who did it. it was a filthy job that killed too many; some quickly, many slowly, spitting the black out of their lungs for years after they came back up into the light.

just because we move on, doesn’t mean we have to forget.

i remember. i respect. i move on – but i will carry it with me; it’s where i came from. it’s home.


close the coalhouse door, lad, there’s blood inside.

2013 in review

i got an email from wordpress about my amazingly busy blog. it is fascinating.

well, no it isn’t, but you have to make these people feel appreciated somehow. the results are below. they are truly underwhelming. love to all and blessings on all those you love in 2014.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 570 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 10 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

for those hardy souls who do indeed click on the summary (do you have no life at all???) you may be delighted to find – as i was – that my fifth most prolific commenter was a spam site. excellent. but daisy was the diehard. bless you.

the witch – an apology

this blog wishes to apologise to its readers.

to one reader in particular.

and to witches in general.

i realise it’s a pollution of the term; that witches are benign strivers for wisdom. apologies.

and to ‘the witch’ (she knows who she is) nothing but respect, mum.

we apologise that by using the term we may have given the impression that these people are even the same species as the late baroness you know who. (as someone once said ‘even sharing a planet is more related than i want to be’) don’t want her name on here more than i have to.

love to you all.

it’s that day at last

for a long time i thought i would be elated today. when the witch was finally gone i would celebrate for and with all my people. and yet…

how can you celebrate the release of a baffled old woman from dementia? punishment enough for most sins. if that wasn’t enough, perhaps it was fitting that she was punished by becoming an irrelevance and knowing it.

i hope that what i felt as hatred has now changed. but this post isn’t about her; i will try to keep this space free of all that nonsense a little longer. this is about compassion.

gone are the days when i stood on the picket line. that all feels a long time ago. i haven’t been to a march or demonstration since the invasion of iraq. these days i can try and fight for my clients but i wonder if the bigger picture tends to escape me.

but on a day when the minister for persecuting the disabled introduces changes that makes one woman say ”genuine people with genuine disabilities are terrified’ (and i assume she wasn’t sitting in that wheelchair just to amuse herself) if there is one thing that can save us it’s compassion. active and powerful, a real feeling for and with the needs and lives of those around us – the opposite of everything the cult of the now late thatcher glorified. a simple human feeling that joins us all. if anything can dance – maybe not on her grave, but at least on her legacy of despair – it’s compassion.

i hope i can find in myself some of that compassion for her and the human suffering of her demise. i hope that love and care for my fellow humans will keep driving me forward now that my hatred has fizzled out. and i hope that if enough of us realise that compassion is power not weakness we can fight for fairness and make changes that will erase her legacy as completely as if she had never existed.

great thing, hope.

i’m being followed

it’s true it’s official and it’s hellish exciting (for me at least).

this sad and lame excuse for a blog (sneezes from the dust that has accumulated since last he posted) is being followed.

so exciting for me that i want to put a link to the following blog – but i’ll ask them first and then if they are good with it, i will add them to the bogroll.

how honoured they must feel!

how ‘about to get scores of extra readers’ they must be!

how do they live with the thrill?

we shall see.

occupy london – what was it all about?

so occupy london has moved on. and people are asking what it was all about? me too.

well for me, it represented people with different (though related) agendas. it showed them coming together. it became a space where they spoke, put forth their ideas and shared them. above all it was a place WHERE PEOPLE LISTENED. there are many voices in society and not enough ears. we are all guilty of it, being so busy shouting our opinion we have no time to listen to anyone else’s.

if you visited, you would have seen people listening to each other; listening to opinions, hopes, wishes, concerns. and because they listened they were able to consider whether they agreed and their own opinions could be modified. nothing will start to change without people listening. because people listened in this space and respected views they may or may not share, the debate was able to move forward.

of course it didn’t answer questions or solve the problems of society. do its critics really think that could happen simply because some people went and camped outside a building? it never pretended it had the answer – unlike politicians and those omniscient voices from the right. but it did say ‘this is wrong and it must change’.

it posed questions. it showed anyone who was uneasy about the never-hope, never-believe, never-question death grip capitalism exerts on all of us and our desire for something more human, that we weren’t the only ones thinking like that. it was the putney debates of the 21st century. it may well achieve as much – and as little – as they did. like all umbrella organisations, it came, had its moment and then went. but it shoved a crowbar into the door marked ‘no entry’ and opened it a tiny crack to let us see just how blinding and beautiful the light can be on the other side. it begged us to open the door a bit further and see what happens.

where do we go from here? well, where do we want to go?

and to the everlasting fury of those who close their ears and will not hear of anything better or different; those whose own dreams have been denied so long they cannot bear to see anyone else dreaming; those who wish everyone else to fail the way they have, it was achieved without violence. how pissed off were they about that?

critical acclaim for this blog

regular readers (reader) ( err…. anyway) will be unsurprised to hear that there’s a place for us has been recognised internationally as a place of great writing. it seems a latvian by the name of neekid bouncygirls (apparently that’s much like john smith over there in the baltic)(not the beer, obviously, i don’t think they have that kind of thing) has been preeee-ty taken with my, admittedly, damn fine product. he was kind enough to comment as follows:

Hi there, just turned into alert to your blog thru Google, and located that it is really informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I will appreciate in case you proceed this in future. A lot of folks will likely be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

now it’s fair to assume english isn’t this chap’s first language, indeed on this evidence he may not be aware it is a language. but even with these shortcomings he knows quality when he sees it.

and a man who is ‘careful for brussels’ doesn’t just visit blogs at random to leave accolades like this; if he ‘turned into alert to [my] blog’, that must say something (though i’m not quite sure what). he also kindly left a link to his own fascinating website, from which i deduce he is a medical man, quite likely a proctologist. sadly i just don’t have the technical resources here at the blog to reproduce it, but it too ‘will likely be benefited’ … ‘a lot of folks’. i’m certainly not the only one with a ‘really informative’ blog. there are things over a neekid’s site that you definitely don’t see every day.

so cheers to you too and thanks a million for the visit, neekid; i will look you up next time i’m in riga and i can assure you that i, like you, ‘will appreciate  in case you proceed this in the future’. after all, prose like yours doesn’t just write itself!