Hellish 23rd June
This relates to a documentary I was watching on the iplayer. It was about the artist, Jack Vettriano, who is a pitman’s son.
Jack was talking about the fact that a miner would never romaticise being down the pit, and described the conditions as hellish. He went on to say that only people who have never been down a coal mine would ever romanticise it. This is true.
My dad was down the pit at fifteen years old. He never talked about it much, but we all knew how horrible it was. Some things are obvious, working deep underground in cramped, wet conditions, knee-deep in water all day. Even as a child I knew his lungs were covered in black tar, as I could see it when he came in and spat in onto the fire. I can sill hear the hissing coal.
But some things aren’t so obvious. Like where do you go to the toilet? I’ll tell you where. You go in exactly the same place as you sit to eat your sandwiches. Sandwiches you eat with hands that are only white for two weeks of the year. Sandwiches you eat as you watch rats running around in front of you. And I’m not talking about Victorian times, either.