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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Ten Hours in 1984

As I wake from my restless sleep, look out of the window and onto the street,
See fathers with sons not much older than I, fathers and sons with heads held high,
Ten hours a day shoveling coal, ten hours a day down that stinking hole,
Ten hours of graft for what little money they pay, Oh will we ever see the bright of day?

It takes awhile to get going these days, but then each day is the same. A single slice of toast for breakfast, more often than not without butter, wash that down with a cup of tea and then the day begins proper. Today though feels even blacker than usual and I’ve lived through some black days since this bloody strike started. As I leave the house I catch a news snippet from the radio in the kitchen – “there are now more than three million unemployed”. And that does nothing for this feeling of hopelessness that seems to have curled itself
up, comfortable as it torments, at the center of my soul.
     The street is quiet as I trudge my way to the village square where the men are to meet before yet another day of demonstrating at the pithead. I pass Tom’s house, the curtains drawn, and I am reminded of the fact that poor old Tom is no more. All Tom wanted to do was work, put food on the family table, and his desperation became such that he defied the strike and went and clocked in at the colliery, but we are all desperate, all have families to feed. We would all like to return to work but we dare not, for standing together is the only way we will defeat this rich woman who seems hell bent on destroying the community we call home. I wonder if she, a millionaire, spares a thought for men like Tom, men who became ostracized by their own people and end it all with a bottle of whiskey and a handful of sleeping pills? I doubt it, though. The bitch doesn’t even know our names and cares nothing for the lives we lead.

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