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‘My Dad is Not a Miner’, Allotrope Press, August 2011

August 3, 2011

Published August 2011 in Allotrope Press

My dad is not a miner.

He did not sign up for 12 hours of daily darkness.

He did not begin work at 13 and retire at 63.

He did not receive a commendation for 50 years of labour.

He did not receive a parting gift

A carriage clock.

A symbol

Of passing time.

He did not die a year later.

This is not his story.

So who does this story belong to?

Does it belong to his family?

Does it belong to me?

Does this story belong to the north of England?

A composition of people, a divided nation

A version of ‘north’ which resists everything ‘south’

An image which functions,

in the city,

as something mysterious and primitive.

It’s grim up North.

Is this the story of community?

Of working men’s clubs

And colliery brass bands.

Of hard labour:-

Of being working class and accepting your lot.

A story of the body, the cultural landscape

Scarred by industry

And veins of terraced houses,

Cobbles and allotments.

Textiles, steel and coal…smoking cities.

The Angel of the North concedes

That this was England.

Is this a political story?

Of the new economy, commercial and ‘clean’

Privatised sectors

Import over export

The 3 day week

A neo-liberal stand-off: – ‘There is no alternative’

What of the worker? The skills, the trades

The unravelling

of the last threads of socialism

A segregated workforce reduces the collective form.

As we know

Capitalism depends on the exploitable individual.

This is political.

How do we inhabit this history?

What is ‘news’? What is ‘public’?

The news media, a historical archive

Is not a neutral mode of transmission.

Fact gives way to versions of alignment.

A bid to construct

Not reflect

all that happened.

The mass media is not a tool,

but a component of culture itself.

A plot to discredit Scarghill – the enemy within..

The miner’s camp divided

Defeat was imminent.

Personal, geographical, colonial, political narratives –

A shared collective history

is remembered in binary.

A history of ‘kitchen sink’ revolves around this story.

Classics of documentary gave way to social-realism

The camera gazed upon a steady unpicking of social democracy

A  masculine account of dissatisfaction

Drudgery and the lived experience

With content and texture

These films ‘belonged’ to those portrayed,

who otherwise remained invisible

This is a story

Of social fury,

Home-grown protests, racial tension

And Urban blight.

The family is a political subject

Reality is a compelling story

A confessional display.

Dysfunction is art.

Art is entertainment.

But Art can interrupt the story of collusion

A story of the mundane.

And ugly realities.

Of bread and butter

And lino floors.

Spotless white washing in grimy streets.

Of chain smoking , L.P’s, Bakelite

and corned beef in tins…

My dad is not a miner

This is not his story

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