Tag Archives: pit

Aad ‘astwud Ta’an


The title actually says, Old Eastwood Town. For those of you who dont know, its where a certain Mr D.H.Lawrence spent most of his life. I had the misfortune to spend some of my teenage years in that godforsaken place. Not a happy time in my life. Eastwood is on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border and the accent is a strange one. Men often refer to each other as youth or blue and a lot of words lose their first letter. Eastwood becomes more like Astwood, but the oo is shortened to sound like u. So Eastwood becomes Astwood, becomes ‘astwud.

The whole area was a coal mining hotspot. Every town and village for miles around had its own coal mine [pit as they are called in the area]. Sadly, in the late 70’s early 80’s when I was there, most of the pits closed and the area went rapidly down hill. I lived in foster care at the time. When I left school with no qualifications, the chances of me finding gainful employment were about nil. The years from 15 to 19 were a period of time I prefer to forget. I hope that comes through here as just what a horrible place in time I was at. Somewhere that D.H.Lawrence loved, very nearly became my final resting place. Thankfully, I was offered a way out. I grabbed it with both hands and have never looked back.

The only real evidence that D.H.Lawrence ever lived there, is a plaque on the wall of the house he lived in. For one of the most prominent UK authors of his day, I think thats rather sad.

The dole is what everyone called Unemployment Benefit and around the time I spent in Eastwood, there were over 3.5 million unemployed in the UK. That, quite frankly, was a very conservative estimate.

 
‘astwud blue? top o’ tha hill,
The reply to the question I asked,
Seat of my youth and hazy days long passed,
Yet a sadness in me it silently masked.

‘astwud yu sae, has one claim to fame,
A young author,D.H Lawrence his name,
Wrote poems and books, based in his day
Whiled the long evening hours away.

Carefree, young, in Lawrence’s ta’an,
Ma’re pubs than pits,yet still coal the black gold,
Skittles in yards played with laughter and beer,
Yet my thoughts of that place asail me with cold.

That were back then when he were a lad,
Nothing that happened was terribly bad,
But now I jump forward to my time spent there,
A lifetime wasted in foster care.

A ta’an urged and inspired a poet to create,
Yet days of despair were oft it gave mae,
Drink and drugs bound me to that fate,
For that was all there ever could bae.

Days sniffing glue, nights sniffing coke,
The bong fully laaded, ready tae smoke,
A cheap bottle or two of old barley beer,
Dour was life, never much cheer.

No prospects, no job, a life on the dole,
My future was planned, I watched it take shape,
I was slowly sinking into a massive black hole,
And yet, somehow, I still made my escape.

So Mr Lawrence, you can shove your old ta’an,
All it was doing was dragging me da’an,
Escaping for me was a very close shave,
I managed to avoid a very early grave.

Posted in response to a prompt over at dVerse. If you haven’t already, pop over and have a read of some of the excellent work you will find there.


Coals to Newcastle


The area I live in is famous for numerous reasons. I wont go into them all here, I aint got all night ūüėČ One of the most famous sayings in the geography of the UK applies to Newcastle.

Like coals to Newcastle

Thats like sending sand to people who live in the Sahara. I was not born here, I came here to work, which is like sending coals to Newcastle. This area was the biggest coalfield in the country at one point and thats where the saying originated from. No one ever moved here to work. The complete opposite is true and Geordies are now spread across the UK due to our Coal Mining heritage. Geordies left Newcastle in droves to work in coal mining and some of my first drinking buddies were Geordies. I guess its why I like the Broon [brown] Ale so much.

Traveling the tarmac of long trodden paths,
Signposts indicating I am heading to The Great North,
The old A1, the road to nowhere, somewhere, anywhere,
The place I call Home.
The home of the Great North Run, swim, ride
The stottie loaf, bottled dog and black bullets,
Savaloys, The Tyne Bridge, The Sage,
I came north to work, like coals that came to Newcastle.

Good times, bad times, hard times,
Newcastle had them all, then some and more,
Jarrow marchers heading ‘doon sooth ta tha smoke’
Men in flat caps that were as flat as their hopes,
Boys in hobnail boots doing a mans work for less pay,
Women, mothers, daughters making hookie mats for cold floors,
Men cleaning boots behind closed doors,
Broken pride, empty plates, emptier bellies,
No one ever came to Newcastle, ‘cept I.

Miners, Masons, Engineers, Shipwrights and docks,
Grafters, drinkers, shepherds, leaders and their flocks,
Newcastle has seen them all come and go, come and go,
Jackie Milburn and Alan Shearer, Malcolm MacDonald and Tony Green,
Heroes of St James Park, goalscorers supreme,
Gods to their followers and believers, immortals,
Ordinary men living extraordinary lives,
We went to worship and sing their praises from broken terraces,
Whilst rich men became rich and poor men remained poor.

The Bigg Market,
Gallowgate,
Dog Leap Stairs,
Forth Banks,
Skinnerburn,
Dunston Staithes,
High Level and Swing, bridges both,
Eldon Square,
Metro Centre,
Sandgate,
Friends all, revisited year in, year out,
Yes, home, yes, familiar,
How did this happen?
Why here?
Why me?

A1: The only road North from London until the M1 motorway was built.
Stottie Loaf: Round, flat bread used to make sanwiches.
Bottle of Dog: Brown Ale
Black Bullets: Hard boiled liquorice sweet.
Savaloys: Sausage
Tyne Bridge: Famous landmark
The Sage: New arts centre on the banks of the River Tyne
Hookie Mats: Mats made from old rags and sack cloth
Jackie Milburn: Star football player of the 1950’s.
Alan Shearer: Star football player of the 1990’s and 00’s.
St James Park: Home of Newcastle United FC
The Bigg Market etc: All places in or around Newcastle upon Tyne.
Geordies: People from Newcastle. True meaning, people born within spitting distance of the River Tyne.

I often come along the Great North Road from the city center to my apartment and sometimes, I ask myself just why I am here, in Newcastle. I might find the answer one day?


The Legend O’ Davy ‘Hinny Man’ Lamp.


Let me, if you don’t mind, give you a little history lesson for the day.

The little tale is centred around the coal mining industry of the UK over the last 150 or so years. In its heyday, coal mining employed a great many men. These brave souls were able to feed and house their families on the rewards of what was and still is, a dangerous industry to work in [see Chile’s recent events].

Most miners had little by way of possessions. They existed on beer, fatty meats and ‘butties’. A butty, is another name for ¬†a sandwich. The miners, could not afford expensive fillings for their ‘butties’. Cheese, between two doorstop slices of bread was about as much as they could afford. The only problem with that was, unlike today, where most foods have additives and¬†preservatives¬†to extend their shelf life, the cheese would go mouldy in the conditions down the pit [coal mine]. I am not sure how the cure for this problem came about, but you can bet ya arse it was a northern fella who discovered it.

You see, what they did was to add jam [preserve] to the butties, and this prevented the cheese from going mouldy. So the fare of the day became cheese and jam butties. For those of you who have not tried this delectable delight, I urge you to do so as its a great concoction. I prefer a mature cheese, Cheddar, Red Leicester, Derby, with strawberry jam. I can eat them by the plateful.

If you visit Magpie Tales, you will see this weeks picture prompt is ‘Lunch’ by George Tooker. Over at dVerse this passing weekend, their prompt was comic book heroes.

So me being me and one who enjoys a challenge, I set about thinking of how to combine the two prompts. I think I just about managed it, in a roundabout way. See what you think.

The Hinny Man

We a’al knew of wor Davy,
The la’ad who invented the lamp,
He took away wor candle lights,
Deciding they needed a revamp.

Now wor Davy was a canny kind,
He luked aft’a all of the hinnies,
It wasn’t fa the love of it,
It earnt him the extra guinea’s!

Davy went off ta woork each morn,
Wi’ a smile and a bag o’ scran,
We a’al knew him by his other name,
We ca,aled him the Hinny Man.

One day when Davy wa’ doon the heed,
There came a mighty crash,
It sounded like a cacuffle,
Of pit men oot on the lash.

The backrippers had just secured the heed,
And gone off doon ta’ pub,
The night shift had just clocked on,
On wa’ sittin having the’er grub.

Davy ha’ his usual fare,
Butties wi’ cheese and jam,
They wa’ waiting fa’ the hinnies ta’ cum,
When the heed came doon wi’ a slam.

The roof was caving in a them,
Until Davy appeared on the heed,
He had to protect his hinnies,
An’ ya can bet he would succede.

Wor kid took tha’ weight o, tha woorld,
Upon his shoulda’s tha’ day,
Until they got the hinnies oot,
Tha’s where he was gannin ta’ stay.

He held tha’ roof for many an hoor,
Until all men and hinnies wa’ oot,
He showed the courage a hero ya see,
Of tha’ there were na doot.

Wi’ lamp an butties, young Davy walked oot,
A hero ta’ man, boy an beast,
Wi’ a crate o’ beer, they a’al sat doon,
Ta’ enjoy a cheese and jam feast!

There’s words here you wont know.So I shall try to cover what I can.

A Hinny was a donkey, kept down the mine 24 hours a day to move the coal buckets to and from the head.

The Head is the bottom of the mine shaft.

A Backripper‘s job was to make sure the roof was adequatelty supported using timbers. These days they use steel.

Davy Lamp is the name of a lamp invented for miners bySir Humphry Davy.

A guinea is an old unit of English currency.

Scran is another word for food.

Oot on tha’ lash means out for a good drink of beer.

All miners clocked in and out for two reasons, pay, and safety.

Cafuffle, old word for fight.

Wor kid, meant brother usually, or good friend. Wor being our.

Grub, another word for food.

I think that about covers it. Any problems reading it or wondering what any words mean, please leave a comment and I shall try to answer.

This is what you get when you take a figure of history, a song [see if you can guess which one] two prompts and a Geordie accent, throw them in the bowl and mix for a few minutes!