It’s just another day in Paradise here. Well actually it’s not – it’s gray clouds and a cack forecast which is a shame for my mate GT. Graham arrives on Thursday for a long W/E and it looks like the weather is going to be a mixed bag. It’s very warm but really unsettled. Ho hum. It doesn’t matter to us residents but it is nice to have wall-to-wall sunshine when our visitors are here.
My pit tale now. I mentioned in my last blog how we had an adjoining door with the Personnel Manager and his world was so much more interesting than ours and we (me and whoever was my assistant at the time) would hear all sorts of carryings-on.
One of the best stories involved two rather stupid and unsavoury characters. One of these guys had a neck like an erupting volcano most of the time – all boils and zits. Lets call him Vesuvius Neck or VN for short. This guy had a real chip on his shoulder. His Dad was a lovely fella and his brother was one of my best apprentices so I don’t know where they got VN from.
The other fella could have had a book written about him. Nobody ever got the sack from the pit for being lazy, stupid, incompetent or thick and it’s a good job or this guy would have qualified on all four counts. His name was John but everybody called him Seedcake so I’ll refer to him as SC. When this guy spoke he sounded like one of those old-fashioned wind-up gramophone when they were ready to be wound-up again. It was like every word was thought about before he spoke. Yes he was a full-blown dick-head. He even had “I didn’t scab” tattooed on his arm. Yeah great – everybody’s trying to forget about the strike and get on with the job and get back to normal and this knob just wants to stir things up. (This was after the 1984/85 Miner’s Strike which Maggie Twatcher instigated with her assistant Arthur Scarface).
If I was some sort of psychologist, analyst or psychiatrist I would have thought he got the tattoo just to try to be one of the lads – you know – look at me – I’m one of the good guys when in actual fact, the tattoo had the opposite effect and made him look more ridiculous. I don’t want him to sound like a victim – he was so fucking annoying that everybody just wanted to punch him.
To progress then – (SC) had managed to complete his Coal Face Training – God alone knows how – it was before my time as Colliery Training Officer. He had worked on the Coal Face but was such a danger to himself and his workmates that he’d been moved to a place where he worked on his own and couldn’t hurt himself. Anyway – after a while, he went bleating to the Union about being lonely and not liking the job he’d been given and was allowed back to the Coal Face much to the disgust of the majority. He just wore everybody down with his constant moaning.
Eventually the inevitable happened and VN started picking on (or pillocking as it was known underground) SC which went on for a while. SC had to retaliate sooner or later and mentioned to VN that his wife had left him because he was beating her up. This lead to a proper fight on the underground train as they were travelling to the Face. Round 1 was broken up but Round 2 started on the coal face which is a dangerous enough place without adding to it.
The two were immediately separated and accompanied out of the pit to be sent home. SC drove home and when he approached his house, there was VN waiting for him with a baseball bat shouting and making extremely serious threats. SC made Knottingley’s first J-Turn and headed straight back to the pit to find the nearest union official.
The result of this calamitous situation ended up in the Personnel Manager’s Office. There was the drawling SC, the PM, Henry P the PM’s minutes-taker and two Union officials.
No punches were pulled and the whole story came out. This took a long time because of SC’s John Wayne impression. The bit that creased me – and it probably won’t seem funny written down – was the approaching the house/baseball bat scenario.
SC said very slowly – “… and he threatened to terminate my life…” to which the union official translated for all – “No ‘e di’n’t – ‘e threatened to fucking kill thee…”
VN received a hefty fine and SC was once again moved to solitary-confinement – out of harm’s way.