Friday, 21 October 2016

Aberfan

The day I will never forget

What do I remember from 1966; as a ten-year-old soccer fan winning the World Cup is obvious - a victory I realized in later years couldn't have been much easier.

One of my most poignant memories is the day a tiny village in Wales become a world headline for the most tragic of all reasons - a mining disaster - I can't say what particular reason this tragedy held me by, as there are so many elements why I felt the pain of their loss. 
I come from a close family of four generations of fishermen who fished the icy waters of the North Sea/ I had an uncle in the RNLI who was involved in the rescue of a Polish ship / I was a schoolboy at the time.

When I was stationed at RAF Lossiemouth, near Elgin, I used to travel home via the Yorkshire mining district, during the miner's strike I would pass the massive piles of coal and pray another disaster such as Aberfan befell a community. Little did the miners realize that their leader Arthur Scargill played them. If ever there was an evil man, Scargill is that man. What the miners forgot in a rush for bonuses, is that coal is a natural commodity and the harder you mine it, the sooner it's gone. While the men were starving at the pit-head, Scargill - in his Rolls Royce - paid for with Union fees was rushing around the country in comfort, or jetting to the Soviet Union to be feted by the Communists.

Sooner or later, coal becomes too expensive to mine, and at that point, mines have to be closed, and communities die off - what about Scargill - he made sure he's invulnerable, he became a life peer in the industry he destroyed. In many parts of the coastal mining areas, the only coal available is what is known as sea-coal; this is poor quality coal washed ashore where the seam is exposed to tidal erosion. The miners? I remember seeing them sitting on steps with placards saying "Ex-miner with family to feed, please help." You can call me callous, but my reaction was "Where is your money now? When you were going on holidays twice a year to Spain, the country got held to ransom."

You'll hear a lot of talk about Theresa May being a second Margaret Thatcher, rightly so. You will hear the left talking about how Mrs. Thatcher destroyed the country by attacking the Unions. Take it from someone who lived through the endless Summers of those years - we lived in fear of the Unions. We never knew which union was going to go on strike at a moment's notice- believe me, if she hadn't stood up to the unions, there would be no need for #Brexit, who would want to trade with a country on its knees?

When you talk about "Classic films," how many of you think of including How Green was my valley, on the list?

The film Silent Hill is based on another human-made disaster, and this one will outlast us all. The town and area of Centraliapa, Pennsylvania stands on a burning coal seam.



Coming from a fishing family, I could feel the pain and anguish of another disaster years in the village of Lossiemouth when generations of men died at sea.

No comments:

Post a Comment