Friday, 18 April 2008

400 jobs boost won’t help revive pit life

It is not often in the past 20 years there has been good news for the miners. Well, unless you’re a miner abroad that is.
In the UK the industry has been in decline, with the government choosing to look abroad because it is cheaper.
But now Harworth Colliery is on course to be reopened. Rocketing fuel prices abroad in the last 12 months mean it is suddenly cheaper to find resources from within.
Being born and bred within a mining community it seems ironic that is now the case, years after they shut our pits because they were not economical enough.
For Harworth itself, it is a new lease of life. A year after it shut, they could start work in autumn in getting it ready to mine. And in three years' time 400 miners could be working down Britain’s biggest mine, at least 20 years of work ahead.
I was fortunate enough to be taken down Harworth pit four years ago, finally getting to see first-hand when my dad and granddads all did.
From huge coal faces to crawling through tiny gaps to witness the coal being extracted. Hot, dusty, dirty. It looked tough.
The camaraderie underground was as strong as I expected. It had to be working in such tough conditions.
But I remember the camaraderie outside the pit back in the 80s. I was only four but I remember the time my old man was out on strike.
I remember afterwards as well. The pit was at the heart of my childhood years when it seemed everyone’s dad worked down the pit.
Blackened rings around the eyelids from the pit dust when they put you to bed after an afternoon’s shift or Friday afternoons when myself and my brother got to go down to Silverhill Colliery with dad to pick up his pay packet.
Sunday afternoons down the local tap room, crammed with folk, just seeing them past the haze of smoke as tales were told while we were in and out with the other kids to play out in the beer garden.
Those were the days when pit life dominated the community in the likes of Huthwaite where I was brought up. Everyone knew everyone.
But when the pits died, so did that life. Once you remove a heart from something, it is hard to replace it.
The pubs are dead and familiar faces few and far between. There is no hiding from the fact it is superb news for Harworth Colliery and those who it will employ.
But now it is just a job, not a way of life for the miners who will travel from not just Harworth but all over Notts and South Yorkshire to take up those jobs.
It might now be cheaper to reopen a pit in England.
Unfortunately, though, long gone is the time when the pit will be the heartbeat of the local community.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Rebecca the real Galactico

Real Madrid’s players were on a reported one million euros bonus to win this season’s Champions League.
As if the accolade itself, the six-figure weekly pay packets and multi-million pound sponsorship deals were not enough to inspire them.
And all for what? Well, 90 minutes training a day and kicking a bag of wind about once or twice a week.
But, despite such a sizeable bonus, it was not enough as they crashed out even before the quarter-final stage.
How refreshing to see Mansfield’s Rebecca Adlington this week getting excited about smashing a 22-year-old British swimming record that was held by Sarah Hardcastle.
And the bonus - a pair of new shoes from her mum!
She knocked five seconds off the record in the 800m freestyle in Sheffield at the Olympic trials - the fourth fastest time of all time.
Provided she finishes in the top two on Saturday morning in the final, she will be one of Great Britain’s medal hopes at the Beijing Olympics in a few month’s time.
She is 19 but how does she get so good?
In the pool in Nottingham at 6am every morning and again early evening for ten sessions a week, covering 70k every seven days.
So 20 hours in the pool, 15 hours in the gym a week, runs and a strict diet.
The incentive of new shoes was nice but that is not what drives Rebecca on to get out of bed before 5am every morning.
The chance to shatter more records and win medals will be enough to keep her hunger burning inside. Not the money.
The Galacticos of Madrid should hang their heads in shame.
Adlington, meanwhile, can take a few hours off her gruelling schedule to be the best. She’s got some shopping to do.