The Corner

Re: Mining Songs

Yo Derb:

(Gloominess alert.) There have always been plenty of songs by miners about how terrible mining is.  I’m sure you remember Alex Glasgow singing “Close the Coalhouse Door (Hinny/Lad, There’s Blood Inside).” That always brings tears to my eyes, too, even if Glasgow was such an odious lefty he fled the country for Australia in protest at Mrs. Thatcher’s policies. The lyrics went:

Close the coalhouse door, lad. There’s blood inside,

Blood from broken hands and feet,

Blood that’s dried on pit-black meat,

Blood from hearts that know no beat.

Close the coalhouse door, lad. There’s blood inside.

Close the coalhouse door, lad. There’s bones inside,

Mangled, splintered piles of bones,

Buried ‘neath a mile of stone,

Not a soul to hear the groans.

Close the coalhouse door, lad. There’s bones inside.

Close the coalhouse door, lad. There’s bairns inside,

Bairns that had no time to hide,

Bairns that saw the blackness slide,

Bairns beneath the mountainside.

Close the coalhouse door, lad. There’s bairns inside.

Close the coalhouse door, lad, and stay outside.

Geordie’s standin’ at the dole,

And Mrs. Jackson, like a fool,

Complains about the price of coal.

Close the coalhouse door, lad, there’s blood inside.

There’s bones inside. There’s bairns inside, so stay outside.

The third verse is a reference to the Aberfan tragedy of 1966, when a Welsh elementary school was engulfed by a sliding slag heap, killing 116 children. Lord, I cried when I typed that.

Despite this, the coal strikes of the seventies and eighties were, to hear the miners themselves speak, all about preserving jobs for the mining communities, even if the real reason was preserving political power for the unions. Arthur Scargill ruined those communities by treating them as a political tool (which, of course, is what the communities blame Margaret Thatcher for).

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