Inspiration came from observations of the effects of the mass closure of coal mines in South Yorkshire by the UK Conservative Government in 1991. At the time I, as a bystander, followed the miners and their unions to London to protest about the vengeful destruction of the mining industry to make a political point. Never before have I seen such disbelief on the faces of ordinary people followed by such self-seeking hypocrisy from the very organisations set up to help them.
Politicians wring their guilty hands spouting
Guile-less arguments of economics and the National Good.
Grey public servants ponder expensively how
To turn our economic distress to their personal advantage.
Comedians rehearse well-worn jokes on local thrift
Masquerading as miserliness but forced by misery.
Young men throw down years of certain deadly toil
To take up tankards of fast evaporating wealth.
Children gaze at the still winding wheels with the fear
That Saint Nicholas will forget the coalfields too this year.
Union Leaders search for other blind alleys down which
To lead a trusting workforce with the siren call of Brotherhood.
But Mothers breath an unspoken guilty prayer of relief
That their sons will no longer choke on their fathers’ dust.
© John Dowson 1991