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WRONG ROAD ROUN' (An Urban Villanelle)

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(In response to Greg Freeman's call-out for villanelles, I re-post this effort of mine from 2014.  It tells of the cardinal sin a raw recruit would only ever make once when he entered a hand-filled coal face for the first time)


“There’s no bigger, silly bastard undergroun’

A disgrace to thee, ‘is mam an’ ‘is class

‘E took ‘is fuckin’ shovel wrong road roun’.


We’d walked back in once t’shotties fired their roun’

An’dep’ty said as we wa’ clear o’ gas

There’s no bigger silly bastard undergroun’.


So 27 colliers knelt down

An’ crawled their way through props an’ bars just as

‘E shouts, “Mi fuckin’ shovel’s wrong road roun’”.


The fuckin’ pog’s that tight it wain’t turn roun’

There wa’n’t the fuckin’ space to let ‘im pass

There’s no bigger silly bastard undergroun’.


At fust we thought we took ‘im fo’ a clown

The silly bastard’s grinnin’ like a lass

 ‘E’d took ‘is fuckin’ shovel wrong road roun’.


Twenty fuckin’ minutes out an’ in-bound

That silly twat o’ thine ‘as cost us brass

There’s no bigger silly bastard undergroun’.

‘E took ‘is fuckin’ shovel wrong road roun’.”


My Life is Like Living on a Ship ►


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John Coopey

Wed 3rd Apr 2024 08:38

Thankyou, Greg, David and Stephen.
I set this scene in the Miners Welfare as a collier rants at my dad while we sit drinking after after my shiftus horribilis.
Seams really were so tight that men had to shovel coal onto a conveyor behind them by lying on their side. Before the National Day Wage Agreement men were paid for the tonnage of coal they shifted. So for a whole face team to have to crawl out to let some twat turn his shovel round cost them time and money.
The language would be authentic - there was no-one more helpful than miners for pointing out your shortcomings.
And thanks for the Like, Bethany.

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Stephen Gospage

Wed 3rd Apr 2024 08:04

Well done, John. Probably wouldn't make the Tatler, but none the worse for that.

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David RL Moore

Wed 3rd Apr 2024 07:18

What I particularly like about this John is its authenticity.

I like the tone of the reading, in tune with the disdain one might imagine seasoned colliers speaking to such an individual.

This kind of poetry is vital to communities in their remembrance of the labour that built them.

Such toil is remote from most work places today, some might not even believe such ardous endeavour ever existed.

I think this type of poetry, often brushed aside and dismissed is highly relevant to communities (those few that still exist)

Keeping it alive in words like this is a credit to you.


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Greg Freeman

Wed 3rd Apr 2024 06:06

Great stuff, JC. And dialect, too. Thanks for responding to the villanelle challenge!

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