Sunday, 14 June 2015



I only ever did one manual job, in the Ibstock Brick Yard. 
Dunno what I was doing there, filling-in, maybe, doesn't matter.
The yard was a major employer in the Norman villages of that part of Leicestershire, fathers and sons, nephews and uncles, m'duck, a community, like. 

 Christ, it was fucking murder. I worked as a chuckerpicking-up three freshly-baked bricks between my two bare hands and throwing them to a setter, who caught them deftly  and arranged them in a pile, to be wire-bound, fork-lifted onto a lorry and delivered to building sites and builders' merchants all over the land. 

That was the job, all day, every day.  Some wore bits of inner tube on their hands, fashioned into fingerless gloves, to protect from the impact of ten-thousand bricks a day but most didn't. People did this one job all of their lives.  It was filthy work,  there were no showers and trying to get clean in the bath at home was very difficult, thick layers of red brick dust clinging to the bath, the taps, the floor, my body and my hair. Ibstock Brick and Tile Company, must've built half the country and shortened the lives of tens of thousands of its labourers in the process.

The miners strike of 1984 festers still and when I think of the miners I always remember the chucking of bricks and setting of them; compared to hefting a pick undergound, the brickyard  was a walk in the park, at least we were in the fresh air, didn't have a million tons of shit over our heads, a rotten timber away from being crushed  to death, in the dark; we weren't coughing our lungs out with pneumoconiosis and so, after working in the brickyard, I always wondered why people would be determined to continue with that filthy, mining way of life, scratching coal, underground; I  always was prepared to give the pit closures a fair wind, anything must be better than working down there.

That was just me, though, and what do I know, about trawlermen, scaffolders, coalminers, about those with whom Mr Death's sergeants share the tea-break. Somehow, for the miners, danger had become them and no matter how many tragedies befell the industry its labour force demanded the right to endure even more

There were, there used to be such communities, all over the place, joined-together by hard, dirty, dangerous, badly-paid work and the sensible thought would be - Let us, for fucks sake, get them up in the light, out from the foundry and into newer, cleaner, better, brighter jobs, jobs they might survive into their eighties, as do the rich.  No more  of this pouring of steel, no more of this  welding and riveting  of ships; burn the blue collars, all shall dress in white, all shall  own their homes and top-up their pensions from the wise investments they make on the stock market. 
It is for everyone, after all, gambling.
All shall share in the brave, new world.
  Even if we have to set the police on them. 

In my way,  I sometimes shared mr jgm2's view that these - miners, car-workers, shipwrights - were unruly, troublesome saboteurs, delaying the decent march of Progress,
but only sometimes.

Othertimes, I saw them as noble, more noble, certainly, than he or I, grammarschool boys, like all grammarschool boys since Shakespeare, on the make.   
 Even so, I always tried to be a bit realistic, about this Dignity of Labour thing. 
 It is the sort of enconium that Lord Mike Biscuits would confer on people less ruthlessly and contemptibly  spivvish than himself. 

Oh, a fine specimen, the British working man, 
salt of the Earth, he is, when he's not being confused with all this talk of rights and equality and what have you.
 And unrealistic wages. 
I blame the unions.
Always have.

I say, do you happen to have a  couple of Garibaldi biscuits, 
with my tea?

And I still do think that the dignity, the comradeship of hard, filthy, dangerous, menial work is exagerrated, not least by people like this,
Sir Billy Bragg, workers' champion, professional folk-singer and unspeakable arsehole.

He's an honorary miner, isn't he, Sir Billy, done more for working men, he has, than anyone.  I mean, just imagine how much worse things would have been without Billy the Buffoon and his GodAwful two-chord fucking racket. 
It's OK, in your twenties, singing protest songs but making a career of it is well, just making a career out of other people's shitty lives and scurrying off back to your mansion. Cunt.

Not just Billy Arse, though, he has lots of friends, the working man; today it's Mr McCluskey, the man who, just recently, handed the country to CallHimDave and JunkyGeorge Osborne, and over which we now expect them to give full-rein to their YahBoo Bullingdonism.  Quite how or why Laughing Len was able to install the clown, Miliband - either of them, actually, but Ed, in this case - as political leader of the Labour movement, then - and still, now -  set my eyes to watering.  He must be a Tory, McCluskey, it's the only explanation.

Back then,  the People's Tribune was another Tory, 

socialist firebrand, 
Baron Scargill, seen here with and his common-law Mrs.
They fought tooth and nail, Arthur and Nell, like proper Tories, like Neil and Christine Hamilton,  to retain a grace and favour apartment in London, paid for by the now-tiny NUM, in addition to the large cottage they bought for him in Barnsley and in addition to a princely pension. With all the vulgar cheek of his fellow Tories, Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Shouty, Arthur insisted that the apartment in the Barbican be paid for, for the rest of his life, by the 1,200-strong miners union which he led to disaster.
Isn't it great, how so-called socialists do so well, while their own  rank and file get shat upon ?

Doesn't matter which brand of socialist leader we refer to.
The Kneecapper and the Nonce.
These two fuckers, for instance, 
grow richer and more pompous by the day.    

Whilst those who died, starving, for the cause,
 well, they're dead, so th'are; fuck 'em. Aye, fuck 'em, 'sme and Marty's left here,  to continue the revolution. And them boys as starved 'emselves to death....
Well, more fools them.

Bobby Sands, MP, starving in his shit-splattered cell in the H-Blocks or some nameless miner crippled by a baton charge;  what are we to make of them? Are they martyrs or fools?
I would like to think the former but the evidence indicates the latter.

After the miners' doomed strike, Scargill and Thatcher lived-on in relative luxury, bloated hypocrites to their dying day, both as  guilty and as wicked as Sin.  Although driven by monstrous vanity, Scargill, economically speaking,  was probably right; a handful of corporate energy oligarchs now extort as much from us as they can and millions live in fuel poverty, me, strictly-speaking, among them.  We live with the unnecessary threat of lights-out, radiators-off unless we pay more and more to grubby carpetbaggers. Centuries' worth of energy lies below our feet and all it needed to be viable was an efficient carbon capture process. Instead, spivs like Tebbit and Lord Biscuits gleefully poured concrete down the mines.  With any luck I'll see them both dead and, if I get the chance, piss on their graves.

  I heard,  on Radio Four, the other day, the news of the report or inquiry by some cover-up artistes into the policing of the Orgreave NUM picketing, thirty years ago.  Too long ago, now, insisted some rotten, gabshite harpie, all the police're retired, nothing to be gained, things're different, now; lessons were learned at the time. 

She was one of those ghastly shrews who are appointed to bodies such as the laughable Independent Police Complaints Cover-Up Service and who have several degrees in NothingTo See Here, Move Along Studies. She was not interested in persuasion or emollience, this crow, it was just a matter of This is what I'm telling you, it doesn't matter what you think, fuck off and shut up.  I guess that many, like her, a nation's impudent bureaucrats, lost their heads to Madame Guillotine, and quite right too.
 "I have therefore concluded that there should not be an IPCC led investigation into police behaviour at Orgreave."
Ms Tubby  Greene, IPCC second-in-command.

And then we  heard from the miners, still aching from their encounter with the nation's finest, that thin blue line which is the only thing protecting us from Complete Decency.

Theirs was a howl of pain, Quite what they, of all people, expected from the IPCC I don't know but its denial clearly wrought very genuine outrage. At least I think it did.

I don't know about you but I am of the unwavering opinion that any official body  with the words Police and Complaints in its title will be as much  use as a hatful of melted snow.  I don't know how long one must live in order to be made aware that the police are beyond the law but in my case it wasn't very long  and I would have thought that any veteran of the miners strike would expect, from govament, only what Ms Tubby Greene 

so charmlessly delivered. She is paid to cover things up and that's what she did. Safe pair of hands is what they call it. The Independent  Police Complaints Commission exists purely to protect the police from scrutiny, discipline and correction.  The idea that the IPCC would open the door to criticism of government's historical, overt politicising of the cops in pursuit of class warfare is risible   
What did the Orgeave complainers expect?

But aggrieved they were; from within and without,these last thirty years,  they had been  battered,  betrayed  and sold down the river,  their expectations - aspirations we would now obediently call them - denied,  their working lives consigned to the scrapheap of vicious, ministerial whim, no glittering prizes, theirs. Gosh, we even paid Chris Huhne £17,500 for having to leave his job and go to jail. None such for some dirty troglodyte.  We were promised, raged one man, now in his sixties, re-training and re-employment and there was nothing.  The police assaulted me, said another, and I got the criminal record and I haven't worked since. Bless him, this is Britain, he should know that when the police attack you, that's what happens, you get charged with attacking them and I grew a bit impatient at this sustained naivety ancien. Another man complained that where once son followed father down t'pit,  his own grandson now spent the days waiting for a call from a firm which had him on a zero-hours contract, a call which rarely came.   Your grandson and many others' grandsons, too, oh, noble, formerly mining savage.

They wanted an enquiry, the former miners,  to match the one grudgingly given to  those bereaved at the Hillsborough football ground massacree, an event shamelessly rehistoried by Chief Constable Slag and his Merry Men and now being unpicked.

It's been bugging me for days, now, the fact that I don't support the miners' demands  but I have been beaten by the police, more than once, and never demanded a public  enquiry, sought public support. And I was on my own, whereas there were hundreds of miners.  The cops are brutal crooks, that's the way it is. 
Get over it.

I don't know if the miners had any solidarity with the Ulster Civil Rights Movement, when the B Special Constabulary was beating people half-to-death but I don't remember any;  I don't think they took to the streets over the death of Blair Peach or countless others, not cracked on the head but actually killed by PC Filth and I am fairly sure that few miners went to the wall in defence of homosexuals bullied and bashed  by officialdom in all its guises.  Why, then,  should I give a fuck about a bunch of miners run-down by horses and smacked around by the Filth?

No, I won't support them, not because I approve of the police smacking people around nor because I approve of their shabby treatment and not because I agree with the closure of the pits because I don't and I certainly do not dispute that savage economic policies such as these, at incalculable cost,  destroy marriages,  fracture families and devastate communities, fostering crime, alienations,  drug and alcohol dependance, vandalism, decay and ruin.

  I won't support them because they want to own her, they want to hug her vileness all to themselves and  Whisky Maggie, you see,  her wickedness and her ruinous works,  they belong  to us all.

There's nothing special about them, the former miners, they   can just fuck off and join the queue of national grievance, it starts somewhere round Glasgow way.


 Mining, though, here, in South Africa or South America is a Fool's Game; if you are not killed the odds are that you will be crippled or diseased; and whichever grim fate ensues, your employer will treat you like shit.

Here was the wunderkind, Bob Dylan,  in 1963, narrating in the first person female, the old tale of capitalism's contempt for its labour. The melody is Irish, the observations and the added images probably as old and as universal as mining and money, themselves. 

Come gather 'round friends and I'll tell you a tale
 Of when the red iron pits ran a-plenty 
But the cardboard-filled windows and old men on the benches
 Tell you now that the whole town is empty.

 In the north end of town my own children are grown
 But I was raised on the other
 In the wee hours of youth my mother took sick
 And I was brought up by my brother

 The iron ore poured as the years passed the door.
 The drag lines an' the shovels they was a-humming
 'Till one day my brother failed to come home
 The same as my father before him

 Well, a long winter's wait from the window I watched 
My friends they couldn't have been kinder
 And my schooling was cut as I quit in the spring
 To marry John Thomas, a miner

 Oh, the years passed again, and the giving was good
 With the lunch bucket filled every season 
What with three babies born, the work was cut down
 To a half a day's shift with no reason 

Then the shaft was soon shut, and more work was cut 
And the fire in the air, it felt frozen 
'Till a man come to speak, and he said in one week
 That number eleven was closing.

 They complained in the East, they are paying too high
 They say that your ore ain't worth digging
That it's much cheaper down in the South American towns
 Where the miners work almost for nothing

 So the mining gates locked, and the red iron rotted
 And the room smelled heavy from drinking
 Where the sad, silent song made the hour twice as long
 As I waited for the sun to go sinking

 I lived by the window as he talked to himself
 This silence of tongues it was building
 'Till one morning's wake, the bed it was bare
 And I was left alone with three children

 The summer is gone, the ground's turning cold 
The stores one by one they're all folding 
My children will go as soon as they grow 
Well, there ain't nothing here now to hold them.


Mike said...

My mothers family, father and brothers, were miners in Yorkshire. When several brothers were killed in a pit disaster her mother gathered up the remaining siblings (she had 13 kids) and took them to Manchester to escape. Where the males became miners again. I remember one uncle who used to work north of manchester at the coal face often up to his waist in water. In later life he walked like he had riden the wildest bull on the pampas.

There was nothing noble about mining. In fairness they probably had no other choice other than to starve, in those days. Seeing that as a young kid made me determined not to get my hands dirty as a slave.

My dad often said that the best thing that happened for the working man was WW2.

The miners strikes and Scargill were the last holdouts - like the evolutionary equivalent of the snout of the platypus. The game was up long before then.

Prawanster said...

Mr Ishmael you would be Auberon Waugh reincarnate would you? I bet he is having a chuckle if he has access to internet in his current location.

Doug Shoulders said...

S'human nature to realise that the game's up and just take the money... Scargill vilified in the press meant, to me, he was a danger to the establishment and must be crushed. Maggie certain delivered on that score.
Some folks have been led to believe that the slavery is dominion of the black man. Whereas, as mentioned by you Mr Ish and Mr Mike, white slave conditions were worse. Cotton pikin' in the sun or down a hole all day...I know what I'd choose..
Black civil rights have cornered the market re white man's guilt. I wasn't a slave owner and neither were my forbearers. We all know who were and still are.

call me ishmael said...

Maybe my confusion, mr mike, stems, in part, from no such relationship with mining; my people, such as I know of them, were skilled or semi-skilled, one grandfather a classical musician, the other a shoe-maker; my indignation at miners' conditions, therefore, a bit of a confection. There is a great, if bloated version of the Gresford Mining Disaster, by the Albion Band, on the you-thing, worth ten minutes of anyone's time and illustrative of your grandmother's plight.

I think your Dad had a point, about WW2, relatively few casualties, and massive, post-war reforms, now happily being dismantled by our betters. Historians of the labour movement would, however, cite the Black Death as the greatest driver, ever, of terms and conditions; a dark morality tale, that.

Going down under the ground, down to the sea in ships - extraction, exploration, fishing and trade, these are the foundation of what we call our culture and however myopic such workers may have been, their treatment, in my short life, has been contemptible. UCS, the NCB, British Steel, the fishing industry, all gone, replaced partly by aspirational gambling, pornography, sport and celebrity, and a Labour party, once rich with miners and dockers. now home to torturers, embezzlers, warmongers, child molesters, thieves and degenerates, yes, the game was up long ago.

call me ishmael said...

That's very kind, mr prawanster, although the late Mr Waugh and I are poles apart. I was only glancing at his autobiography, last week and he knew such privilege that it is surprising that he was actually so liberal, one of those nice, Tory anarchists; I think AN Wilson is the only one left. Waugh and Wilson, both in the Filth-O-Graph, those were the days.

call me ishmael said...

It would have been better, mr doug shoulders, for all of us, I feel, had the miners defeated Thatcher and the pinstripe spivs; three million unemployed is not a price worth paying. Scargill, though, regardless of skymadeupnewsandfilth failed through not securing a proper ballot and by falling fir his own hysterical rhetoric but then, as I remarked, he had nothing to lose, absolutely nothing, he had featherbedded hinself for life.

I despair of all the so-called civil rights movements, blacks, GBLTs, the suiciders, the IRA and the Scottish Tribesmen; while they are all squabbling the real slavemasters are laughing all the way to the banks which, like everything else, they now own.

Doug Shoulders said...

I believe the beginning of the end for labour and the unions began long before thatcher. I can just about remember the black-outs and rubbish heaps. My father talking about the govment being to weak to handle the unions. The labour party…just like every other endeavour first dreamed of to enable and promote humankind…civil rights, unions, labour movement, freespeech etc has been hijacked by spivs and put to work for them.

There are those in the employ of the slave masters whose job it is to entice the proletariat to squabble. Hence the current spate of tv freak shows of miserable sods on benefits. Dontcha jus’ hatem?

call me ishmael said...

Yes, I fucking do.

mongoose said...

Stacking bricks, eh? Now there's another skill that back in the day, I didn't know I needed until it was too late. Sharp little bastards are fresh bricks.

It's OK, Mr Ishmael, be not afraid for Jeremy Corbyn is here to save the Movement.

call me ishmael said...

Sharp, aye, mr mongoose, such rough hands must've pawed the good wives of Normanton and Appleby Parva, Coalville and Ashby de la Zouch.

I saw Brother Corbyn on the Daily Hobgoblin, at luchtime and he seemed a thoroughly reasonable fellow, as these filthy mutants go.

What's your take on l'affaire a la Grecque?

call me ishmael said...

Not stacking, any road up, setting.

mongoose said...

Mmmm, I never picked up any of the lingo - being but an afternoon or a few at it. But the brickie, or my dad, taught me to carry 11 (I think). Two on the bottom - fingers in the holes - and then three (?) cross layers of three. I found it easier to carry only eight and was probably faster doing it that way. Any way you look at it, that is the sum total of my expertise. Red Northamptonshire bricks of some kind, name forgotten but they matched those already in the dreariest house in that dreary county.

Corbyn is a decent lad for a Unison dinosaur. A proper communist, he'll not get a sniff of the leadership. But then we said that about Father Foot. It is going to be Burnham. Which is the end for he dare not mention the NHS ever again without the Tories ripping him a new one. Which means that he must fight them on economics and he is therefore already dead.

The pressure rises on our Greek brothers, Mr Ishmael. Grexit looms ever nearer with all that that brings with it. What they may not have bargained for is that if they are let out of the currency, the country must be seen to be beggared for a generation in order to encourage the autres. And the EU would do that. Every single one of the bastards relies on the fairy tale continuing. It can only get uglier. I am a little surprised that the means has not been found to kick it all down the road a couple of years so that a more malleable Greek government can be installed. Today's unpleasantness may even spiral out of control before they are ready. Somewhere there is a factory printing drachmas.

call me ishmael said...

There is always Bail-out Vlad, isn't there, and whoever the current Yellow Emperor is called. And who could blame Sfavros, cosying up to China or Russia, after the way he's been treated by the Frogs and the Hermanns and ourselves. Wonder what the man in the White House would make of that, Russian nukes parked next to the Acropolis, or Chinese ones; shit himself, I should think.

I really don't think it matters, who leads what used to be the Labour party, as you have said previously, all the candidates seem to think that it is all about them, theirs to reinvent; the fact that they are all unpardonably stupid as well as being posturing, narcissistic egomaniacal arseholes obviously escapes both them and anyone dumb enough to waste a moment deciding between them. Any person of merit or worth in the PLP should strike another match, go start anew. Andy Burnham? God save us.

DtP said...

I'm from Yorkshire and being only 10 at the time of the miner's strike have chatted to many an ol' boy about it. Other than senior coppers shouting 'every man for himself' at pivotal moments, the one thing that consigns such violence to history has been the boast of a senior union man that he used to get his unwashed cock out, smear the cheese on his finger in full view of the Rozzers then go for their faces! Well, it's a punching offence, innit? Yeah, it was a fuck up but as you say, pretty obviously inevitable. Chalk it off to fun 'n' games maybe. Someone's gotta work in the charidee shops and amusement arcades!

call me ishmael said...

I would not be quite such the dilletante, mr dick. It made legitimate, again, for many, the riding-down of the civilian by mounted thugs, something we may see again, shortly, this time with water cannon, tasers, gas and drones. Then we will see what the Tribesmen are really made of, eh?

Anonymous said...

Enough coal under Wales to last us a century or two? Not a problem - let's flatten the boys who want to dig it up,close the mines and then buy coal and gas from Russia, whom we then antagonise remorselessly.
We should have been content as Homo erectuses, happy with a Missis, some nice pieces of flint, a bow-drill to light a fire at night, and possibly enriched beyond measure by a hat/collecting basket.
Ergo I started treating credit-card statements from the H. erectus perspective five years ago and so far nothing has happened. Yes, people threw dried leaves in my face and wanted me to gather up vastly more leaves for them, which would have taken many years; an obvious nonsense which deserved to be ignored.
Anything which gets the same furious response from H. sapiens as a mirror does when placed in front of a baboon - flags, politics, religion, money, pigmentation, and so forth - can likewise be ignored because if the typical reaction is sapient then I'd rather be erect.

call me ishmael said...

Better still, mr richard, why not dig out the shale gas, cause earthquakes and make the place look like a shithole, y'know, now that we're not using fossil fuels. That George Osborne, eh, what's he like?