I worked with a guy at the Pit and his name was Henry Parker. Henry had lost two of the fingers of his right hand (I think it was the right). When I say lost, I don’t mean misplaced of course, that would have been a bit careless. What I mean is that they were damaged beyond repair in an underground accident.
The result of the accident had a few consequences.
- Much pain and suffering
- Henry’s underground career was over
- When H was given change and he made a fist around it – it all fell out due to the missing digits
- His hand (the one with two fingers and a thumb) ached in wet weather
- The finger-deficient hand wasn’t pretty
- Mind you, neither was Henry
- It wasn’t all bad
- H’s underground career was over
- H realised this was a good thing
- He was given a cushy office job
- No more shift-work
- A healthy amount of compensation
- A weekly lump sum making his low wage into an underground worker’s much higher one
- A better quality of life
What H thought was the worst thing that had ever happened to him, in actual fact, turned out to be the best thing.
Henry was highly intelligent. This was something inherited from his father and passed on to his children. His father had also been a pit-man who, amongst other things had taught himself to play the violin. He had one son who went to Oxbridge and a daughter who went to Uni – I’m not sure which one. The middle child a boy was a drug addict who ended up in jail. Only kidding – Steve was a grand lad who worked at the pit as a fitter. He used to visit his dad in the office on a regular basis. A smashing kid who just wasn’t university material.
When computers were introduced into our workplace, as the Colliery Training Officer I had many hours of training. Henry’s computer was just plonked into his office. Henry worked with the Personnel Officer and we had an adjoining door. Some of the things we heard with our ears pressed up against that door were brilliant. Anyway – Henry sat with the instruction manual which came with the computer and spoke to no-one for weeks. When he emerged from his self-exile he could do spreadsheets and all manner of wonderful things
He was a remarkable guy and I’m sorry I lost touch with him. Last time I saw him was about fifteen years ago and he was retired and living in Sherburn-in-Elmet in West Yorkshire.
Referring to the title of this blog then – H was a bit of a philosopher. During our time working quite closely I was going through a particular hard time personally and H had noticed this. One day he said to me – “You know Steve, no matter how good or how bad things are, they won’t stay the same”.
I have quoted this many times since and it’s certainly been true with my life. I don’t know if the quote is from Chairman Mao, William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon or Adolf Hitler – to me it’s Henry’s.
The worst thing/best thing is not the pholosophy