Thursday, September 07, 2006

At the end of the shift

End of shift

Been meaning to post this for a while, but I don't have a scanner & only recently bothered Younger Sister to do the honours for me (thanks Sis).

One of these people is our father...

It's on the hillside somwhere in South Wales. Or as they say in those parts, on the mountainside... It's probably near the old Crosskeys Colliery at the top of Tredegar Street, where my grandfather toiled for many years underground, then my dad, for not so many years, and my uncle, for a few more years than him. My grandfather used to take me to feed apples to the pit ponies in the weekends sometimes. They were, I believe, all put out to nearby pasture when the mine closed.

Dad & Uncle were both mining engineers, and I'm guessing that this photo was taken during the university holidays, when he'd have been obliged to actually do some mining of coal.

There have been several family discussions about what the log with "SP" on it represents. I'd say for the guy holding it, it will represent fire & warmth later in the day - although coal of course, was the fuel of choice & every terraced house in Tredegar Street had a sizeable coal shed down the back of the garden.

Anyway, this was going to be about anniversaries & deaths, but Graham Reid comprehensively beat me to it... and anyway, that'd be depressing.

But here's a roundup:

I remember where I was when I heard JFK was killed - in the lounge at 8 St Mary Street in Risca Town, playing while grownups gathered round the black & white TV. Not entirely by coincidence, that's where I was the next day when the first episode ever of Dr Who screened.

I have no idea where I was when JFK Jr bought it though.

I was in the student union building at Victoria University, supping on a ale, when I heard Ronald Reagan had been shot. For those who came in late, the Gipper survived.

Dulux paint factory when John Lennon was killed.

Just arrived at a friend's birthday party in Mt Victoria when someone asked "Do you think it's true that Princess Di is dead?". For the record I didn't (and actually, for a long time I wouldn't have been surprised to find it was all staged to give her some time away from the press). But anyway, I commemorate the event each year by sleeping with a skinny blonde. It seems apt.

At home having the day's first coffee when the daughter came upstairs & announced that someone was attacking America. Scoffed derisively until I turned on the radio & heard the news of the World Trade Centre.

In the office with the radio on when they announced Steve Irwin's untimely demise. I wonder if I'll remember it next year?

And Update:

Not only did Mum email me to tell me which guy is my dad, but my Uncle emailed her to pass on this information. For those interested in the terminal details...

roger is on the right side of the middle row
cyril deight and tony jenkins i recognise but not the others
the writing on the pit prop (illegal firewood) is D5 the number of the coal seam
it was destined to be used to support the roof.
dad used to fetch home pit props sawn up for firewood
he was fined 2 shilling once when an over zealous pit top bobby caught him..

Fantastic! I hope to get more photos & stories from Uncle, who is rather a remarkable man himself, engineer, racing car driver, shark hunter... a man who broke his leg skydiving on his 50th birthday.