Friday, 5 November 2010

MINERS TRAPPED ( exclusive



"A Week in the Jaws of Death"
"A Chat with one who was there"

Business, curiosity, combined with perhaps just a suspicion of thirst, drew an Exprss and Star man the other day into a house of call in Stafford Street, Dudley, kept by one George Skidmore. The landlord, a big brawny fellow of middle age, sat in the tap room conversing with several men, evidently colliers. From the tenour of the conversation it soon became apparent that the host had been at one time a collier himself. Our representative's attention was drawn to a portrait which hung on the wall, depicting about a dozen men and boys in flannel trousers and jackets such as colliers used to wear, and sometimes do still. Noticing that the faces of the individuals in the group looked uncommonly pinched and worn, "What is this," he queried, "a lot just out of hospital?" "Nay," quoth the host, "that's me and my chums after living a week on boot leather." "Well, I can see that the diet suited you bettr than the others." "I did not need much on it." After further questioning the landlord said, "That's a picture of Tom Hunt, Ben Higgs, Jack Holden, Johnnie Handley, Tim Tailor, David Hickman, Steve Page, George Skidmore (that's me), Zackariah Parson and the lads - Timmins, Sankey and Joe Pearson. We was all shut in the Nine Locks pit at Brierley Hill for nearly a week, twenty-seven year come next March. "Ah, the Lock's Lane inundation, I have heard of that." "Never was such a commotion in this part of the country, I can tell you," chimed in one of the company. "There were thousands and thousands on the bank; and when they were gotten out there never were so many visitors in Brierley Hill before nor since." "Never was such a good job neither in the history of mining," continued the landlord. "All on we were saved except one poor chap who wandered off and got down with the damp I expect. He had been in a queer affair just before. There had been two on 'em in the pit and he came up alive and the other was found there dead." "Kinder prayed on his mind," suggested an old miner who sat in a corner. "Ah!" assented Skidmore. "How did you get imprisoned?" "Oh, the Thirteen on we went down on the Tuesday night to work, and when we started to go up in the morning we could not get to the shaft for water." "And what did you do?" "Do? Why we got into the safest place as we could find and it wasn't long before I was asleep." "He slept mostly all the while," interjected the old collier. "He gave his food to the lads," said another. "I had been boozing a lot and didn't need my supper. I had some pork and bread and when the lads began to cry with hunger Timmins and young Joe Pearson had it between them." "But you say you were in a week. From the Tuesday night till the next Monday morning. And how on earth did you exist all that time?" "Well, as he told you, I slept most of the time. The other chaps kept putting bits of coal on the rails to see whether the water was rising or falling. When they got tired on that they huddled down beside me and we kept each other warm that way." But without food. How did they exist?

"I wasn't a bit hungrier than I am now but the other chaps were restless and were clammed. They ate candles and we had no light after that. They chewed the leather of their straps and shoes and bits of coal. It was a terrible wait for them. What feelings they must have had. Ah! that's it, I didn't seem to mind much, though. When we got to the bank, old Dr Walker said as how I could have lived another fourteen days." "Were you all together?" "Oh no, Tom Hunt, Ben Higgs and the lads, Timmins and Pearson, and Johnnie Handley and Jack Sankey and the man what died were on the other side of the mine. Some of them were got out the day before we were." "I suppose you had given up all hope?" He smiled, "Well we could tell as how they were working for us. They had a tank at work as drew two tons and half of water every time and a pump that took 250 gallons every stroke. If it had been with any other firm but the Earl of Dudley it would have been all over with us. Every time the tank dipped, it sent the water up a yard, and back two, and that kept the air circulating. The water was 50 feet up the shaft at first, but at last they got to us with a raft. We were glad enough to see daylight, I can tell you." "Could you tell how the time passed?" "Ah, yes, one of the chaps had a watch and we kept note with that. It was a long week for them. More like a month to them. A day or two after we got out we had our portraits took and the next Sunday we went to Church. Parson took for his subject Jonah in the whale's belly." "You had beat him." "Ah, you're right there. Yet I don't know, having no experience of seafaring. I was working in Yorkshire some time after, and one of our fellows tapped an old working. There was a rush of water, and well, I remembered the Nine Locks. I had on a pair of clogs, but you should have heard them patter up that road. Butty said he would put us in Wakefield Gaol for leaving it. But if yer wanting to know more about that here better than I can remember..." With that he produced a ragged slip of paper...

Alas, my cousin Jean Skidmore who sent me this fascinating dispatch has not yet been able to trace the cutting.


My friends Geoff Mather and Colin Dunne offered:
Geoff's Cranks and Oddities:
Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine. A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking. Dijon vu - the same mustard as before. Practice safe eating - always use condiments. Shotgun wedding - a case of wife or death. A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy. A hangover is the wrath of grapes. Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play. Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion. Reading while sunbathing makes you well red. When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I. A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead give away.) Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes. She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered. You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it. Local Area Network in Australia - the LAN down under.Every calendar's days are numbered. A lot of money is tainted - taint yours and taint mine. A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat. He had a photographic memory that was never developed. A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis. Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses. Acupuncture is a jab well done.

Colin's Puns for Educated Minds
The fattest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian. She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it. Atheism is a non-prophet organization. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'
I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'
The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran. A backward poet writes inverse. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, 'I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.'

Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says 'Dam!' Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, 'I've lost my electron.' The other says 'Are you sure?' The first replies, 'Yes, I'm positive.' Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication. There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

from my friend John Edwards
"An oneiric, eroticized homage to 1970s Italian giallo horror movies reimagined as an avant-garde trance film. A delirious, enigmatic, almost wordless death-dance of fear and desire. Drawing its stylized, hyperbolic gestures from the playbooks of Bava, Leone, Argento, and De Palma and taking them into a realm of near-abstraction, Amer has genre in the blood. Its bold wide-screen compositions, super-focused sound, emphatic music (lifted from original giallo soundtracks), and razor-sharp cuts make for an outrageous and intoxicating cinematic head-trip.
Official Section New Directors/New Films Moma Film Society