71. Monday July 23rd, 1984.

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2009 at 9:02 am

I had an early start to the day, getting up at 3.30am so I could get to the Armstrong Hall for 4.30 and get a lift to Tow Law. My first day back since May and it was a big disappointment. Apathy was rampant and there were only about 100 pickets. Just a bit of loud shouting when the lorries sped in. The ‘highlight’ of the picket was when someone threw an egg at a copper and missed by a mile.

The order came through to call in at the Philadelphia Workshops near Houghton le Spring where there was a picket to try and stop COSA staff from going into work. I had a run in with a vicious pig who really pushed me hard in the chest for no other reason other than I was facing him! I went for him but some lads came to my rescue and we got away from the front. Time to go home.

This afternoon I got a phone call from Gary telling me that a coach was leaving from the hall to go to Scotland and that 55 men were required. I rang the union and volunteered and was told to report to the hall at 5.30pm with a sleeping bag.

I went down to the Women’s Aid Refuge and told Kath I was off to Scotland again. She seemed resigned and warned me not to get arrested. She told me to be careful and ring her to let her know what was going on.

We arrived at Dalkeith Strike Centre at 9.30pm and it was a much more relaxed journey than the one we had last month. We only stayed a few minutes whilst details of accomodation were picked up. We were to be in Arniston and Penicuik but a bit of a row broke out because the people in Arniston wanted the lads who had stayed there last week to return. This caused the lads who hadn’t stayed there to think it was the best place to stay and demanded that the ‘rubs be put in’. I couldn’t be arsed to join in such a petty squabble so I volunteered for Penicuik. The SWP already had a few members there so I wanted to experience something new, and meet more people.

After dropping off half the lads in Arniston we headed for Penicuik, stopping off at Shottstown Miners Welfare for a piss. I wasn’t too surprised to see the two union officials from Westoe, sent to help co – ordination, were with us, leaving no one in Arniston to co – ordinate with. We spotted none other than Mick McGahey sitting at a table full of empty whisky glasses. A lot of the lads were excited to see him but not me. I’d met him before and also heard loads of tales.

We were given soup and bread, and a free pint, and as we were eating Mick came swaying over to give us a pep talk. His speech was slurred and it was sad to see a man who was once one of the top fighters in the NUM reduced to a drunken old man. He spoke of his hope of renewed talks bringing about a quick settlement, but when the men started to ask questions about the Incentive Scheme, the 4 day week and sacked miners he just put on his most sincere face and voice and promised us there’d be no sell out! He put enough money behind the bar for 2 pints for each man so we all cheered loudly as he left. He called back and said he was seeing Arthur in the morning and he would tell him what a fine body of men we are. Bullshit!

Exit Mick Senior, enter Mick Junior, a big lad with thick glasses, curly hair and a flair for organisation. Within minutes we had all been allocated places to stay and were on our way.

Dave Butchard, Micky Cunningham, Andy Halliday and me were all sent to the home of Willie and Marlene Forsyth. Andy got the couch because he’s ancient, over 50. Dave, Micky and me got the son’s bedroom, a bit cramped but fine. As I try to note this down ‘Butch’ is poncing round the floor in his silk underpants, a horrible sight, and I get a strong feeling we won’t get much sleep because Butch is as mad as a hatter. Anyway, the Forsyths have made us feel really at home so roll on tomorrow.


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