When Thatcher broke the mining union, she broke my town. Changes that would have happened gradually happened overnight. Family firms went bust, big chain stores moved in. A community was shattered.
As a child, I was dimly aware that everything came from the pit. Like all jobs that deal with fundamental elements, mining is tough, and dangerous. You have to be able to trust the men around you when you are below ground. Above ground, miners clubbed together to provide welfare for themselves, but also resources for the community – sporting facilities (football, cricket), education (my mum worked for the Workers’ Education Association), entertainment, music…the list goes on.
For me, even now, the sound of a brass band is the sound of the Gala – a celebration of local mining communities. Miners marched behind their colliery band, under intricately embroidered, heavy banners. There was competition and community in those marches. I still feel a tingle when I hear a brass band – it’s blue collar art, an act of rebellion against a system that wanted the workers to be workers and nothing more.
green shoots climb skyward
flowers open in sunlight
fed by the dark earth
It’s Labor Day in the USA, and Frank wants us to celebrate labour, in the broadest sense. A haibun for dVerse.