BIG JUD ET AL

I quickly learned that working for the National Coal Board built up loyalties.  I suppose it came from an environment where men (-no women worked underground by law-) might depend on one another for their lives.  I imagine the same will be true of the armed services or the police and other sectors which operated “on the edge” – where danger, injury or even death might always be around the corner.

Perhaps because of this it threw up its fair share of larger-than-life characters in a sector where the culture would be described by management gurus as “heroic”.

Take Big Jud, for example.  He was the Manager of a mine near Barnsley.  Besides being big he was bearded and ten-ton brussen.  I recollect one story told about him that might give you some insight.

“Fetch me the Branch” he told his Clerk one day.  (The Branch were the top four officials of the NUM Branch – President, Delegate, Treasurer and Secretary).  When they arrived at his office the Clerk told them, “He’s in there”, pointing at his shower room.

“Get in here” he bellowed at them.

When they went in they found him having a shit with the toilet door wide open.  Which was how he proceeded to have his meeting with them.

Then there was Osbert Hartley.  He too was a Manager.  At Haigh Colliery.  Anyone travelling the M1 might have noticed the roadsign off to the village.  A farm shop now stands where the pit was.

Anyroadup, you need to understand that the Coal Board did not breed woke or sophisticated managers.  You may have gathered that about Big Jud, but Osbert was of a different ilk.  Rather, he was something of a gentleman by bearing but wholly unschooled.  His endearing features were his Malapropisms (or is it Spoonerisms, I forget).

On one occasion he sent one of his staff  out to fetch something from town and told him “And if tha can’t get it tha can call me from t’telephone Cossack”.  Or when one of his planners showed him a proposed mine layout he said, “Just what I wanted, Alan.  Can’st tha mek me a repplekah on it?  An’ if tha can’t mek a repplekah I want one just like it”.

Or Margaret.  Margaret worked in the canteen at a Westside pit.  Her party piece was to entertain customers by rubbing them up until they hardened off under their overalls; then letting their ardour cool until she began again  Up and down, up and down, for the duration of their 20 minute snap-time.  Harmless enough; or if it wasn’t, hard to tell who was the victim and who was the transgressor.

Alec worked in Finance.  He was a camp little fucker whose sexual preferences were unconstrained.  And he’d happily confess that he’d “fuck an old bayonet wound”.

He told us one day about the time he’d called in after work on his 80 year old, dying father.

“’Ow’s tha keeping today, father?” he asked.

“A lot better, thanks, Alec, lad.  In fact I had a wank this morning”.

All gone, I’m afraid. Along with the industry that made us.

◄ GREGGS VOUCHERS

THE RELUCTANT MONARCHIST ►

Comments

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 22nd Nov 2022 17:05

KJ has a point. It's easy to go off on a tangent when there are
inter-connecting issues. I will close my own comments by
acknowledging a recognition of climate change as an event
to be confronted - with a wry smile at the name of Al Gore
(best known instigator of the above) in the list of Trustees of the
World Economic Forum. Who'd have thought it? 😏

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John Coopey

Mon 21st Nov 2022 22:07

Any digression of yours is always welcome, Kevin.

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kJ Walker

Mon 21st Nov 2022 21:19

As ever the thread of comments has gone off-track, and now have lost all relevance to the original piece.
This was about the colourful characters that John came into contact with, who happened to work at the coalboard.
Whether or not we should be using fossil fuels is a different matter.
Sorry if I aided the digression.

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John Coopey

Mon 21st Nov 2022 18:37

So you don’t think it’s worth doing anything then, MC?

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 21st Nov 2022 14:34

"Aren't doing much..."? I think that's a kind way of putting a policy that sees an opposite behaviour to that which we are told we
must follow. And I would recognise the reality that fossil fuels
cannot be discarded "to order" to our own cost while other
nations are used to supply what we have under our own feet.
I saw a good joke recently of a coal-filled tipper truck setting off
to supply the means to power the electric cars we hear so much
about. It provided its own value: a chuckle and a dose of timely
reality.

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John Coopey

Sun 20th Nov 2022 21:47

I’m not sure that because some countries such as China aren’t doing much, that all other countries should do nothing. You’re not suggesting that are you, MC?

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M.C. Newberry

Sun 20th Nov 2022 16:40

JC -Indeed! The part worth discussing is the degree and how.
The advent of global media has enabled events that would have
been widely unreported in the past to receive instant extended
coverage, often repeated ad nauseam. There have been
precedents that do not get mentioned unless there is some
determined historical detective work involved and then hardly
at all. We are in an age when hyperbole rules and that needs
to be guarded against. What horrendous pollution must have
been sent into the atmosphere by the explosion of Krakatoa
west of Java in the 19th century when sunsets around the globe were affected.? And what about that recent Pacific
volcanic explosion which got a media mention but little
more. Their emissions were on such a scale as to put human
effluent into a more realistic perspective. But if we in the UK
are to be prevented from self-reliance in fuel on a reasonable
scale what do you suggest should be done about China's
own fuel programme. Let us act, but in such a way that
makes sense around the globe, while nature takes its own
course under the all-powerful sun - as it has always done.

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John Coopey

Sat 19th Nov 2022 20:12

I think climate change is worth worrying about, MC. Don’t you?

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 19th Nov 2022 15:58

But doesn't it seem strange that "global forces" seem to be
pressurising our government into rejecting our own ability to
produce energy at home while the likes of China make a
mockery of so-called "zero" aims. Who is benefitting here?
JC - Al Gore produced the context in which "climate change"
became the increasing ",mantra" for mankind to worry about.
No bad thing in general - but the vituperative traducing of any
dissenting view about cause and effect, not least from those
with scientific backgrounds themselves - has never left my mind.
Follow the money - the latest being the demand for "reparations" (selective, it seems!) regarding the claimed
damage caused by the industrial revolution which conveniently
ignores the benefits brought to so many across the globe.
Who is claiming reparation from China for the Covid pandemic
that was unleashed upon the unsuspecting world and from
which no one can be said to have benefitted in any way whatsover? Answers on the back of a postage stamp???

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John Coopey

Sat 19th Nov 2022 12:32

You’re probably right about the country not being in such a mess as far as energy prices are concerned, Kevin. But one of the few positives about the war in Ukraine is that it will force us into sustainable energy generation much faster that we otherwise would have.

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kJ Walker

Sat 19th Nov 2022 09:37

Colourful characters, well described.
You shouldn't have guilty feelings for your time in the mining industry. Quite contrary, I believe that if our pits were still open the country wouldn't be in the state it is now

Cheers Kevin

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John Coopey

Sat 19th Nov 2022 09:03

Not sure that Al Gore has caused climate change, MC.
Thanks for the Likes, Bethany and Frederick. I thought this might be a bit too near the knuckle for your taste, Bethany.

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 18th Nov 2022 22:39

I wouldn't beat myself up too much about something that has
only taken root since US Democrat Al Gore failed in his
presidential bid and latched on to "An Inconvenient Truth" to
spread the "We're all doomed" message that has become a
global media money spinner. Think of all those centuries of
wood burning (and city burning") across the globe and the damage that could be considered as a result. Anyway, dirt in suspension tends to fall back to earth in its own good time. Or
so the sooty grime on my car and window sill tells me.

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John Coopey

Fri 18th Nov 2022 18:37

Perhaps there might be a book and film, MC, “Heroes of the Solar Panels”. Having said that, I can’t help feeling a little guilty that I have made my living out of poisoning the planet.

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 18th Nov 2022 17:32

Creative writing recreating the past and people in fine style. 👍
Giving us the chance to reflect upon
Folk and their own times now long gone.
I wonder what sort of stuff they'll be writing in the future about the heroes of the oil industry?

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