This is a song by Philip Millichip.
I first heard it in me dad's car, whailed out by Vin Garbutt, a rather fabulous British Folk type, who is deeply deeply hilarious if you hear him in conversation.
I'm putting it up now for my lovely Dad, Geoffrey, who lost the good fight on 8th February.
the inquest said it was the damn dirty coal that did it, so this song seems appropriate, coz he was miner and in the mine's rescue for a long time.
When I was a boy, I was ready and willing
To act like a man and to work for my pay.
So I went underground when the hooter would sound
And I worked all my best years away.
And I’ve seen men go down and they’ve never come up
And I’ve seen men who lived and wished they were dead.
When the choice is you eat or go hungry,
You see that your children are fed.
And if I had a son he would never go down there
To work all his days in your damned dingy hole.
You can close every pit from Bedworth to China.
You’ve broken me body and soul
In search of your dirty damned coal.
I remember a man who was trapped in the seam
With two ton of coal on his head.
As I lay in the dark to the beat of me heart,
I remember the words that I said:
If I ever get out of this hellhole I’m in,
I’ll never come down here again.
But what could I do?
Tell me, where could I go?
So I put on me pit boots again.
As I walk on the mountains, the memory’s there still,
But they've covered the scars of the land
With the grass that grows over the dirty black slag heaps
And nature has given a hand.
But they can't put new breath in my body,
Nor heal all the scars that they find,
Nor bring back my friends that are dead and gone
And only alive in my mind.
So I take all the tablets the doctors prescribe,
And I rest when I’m climbing the stairs,
And I curse every day of my youth thrown away,
And I wonder if anyone cares.
When I look at the child in the faded old photos
And I think of what’s left of the man,
I remember a dream that was crushed by the seam,
Digging coal from the bowels of the land.