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The silent wheels

 This is a story like no other about father against son,

brother against brother

It's about the 1984 miners strike

a dispute never again will we see the like

It was not about money, it was not about greed

it was about saving our jobs, as previously agreed

it is about a group of miners and friends

who fought the fight right up to the end

the Tories planned it, with precision and hate

bringing in a hatchet man from the states

he took on the steelworkers, cut them down to size

but the miners, they were really the prize

with the Tories telling lie upon lie

but when they went back,

their heads still were high

the leader was a man with political ambition

but all that he did was cause a division

denied them a vote, denied them a say

he just caused a break away

they called themselves the U.D.M.

nobody had ever heard of them

when the union was split we had no chance

the Tories led us a merry dance

the public support was starting to slack

and the T.U.C.said “it’s time to go back”

men who still stood as strong as an oak

their pockets empty, but their spirit unbroke

they worked down the mines, that dark dirty place

you can see them now the blue scars on their face

the dust filling their lungs, makes it difficult to walk

but you can hear the pride in their voices, whenever they talk

I imagine that you knew men like these

in the story they wanted fair play, not power,

not glory the backbone of our country,

working deep down beneath

but when they wanted some help

they were kicked in the teeth

when coal it was king, they were the men of the hour

now all the politicians want is nuclear power

in the valleys the mines they were abundant

now they are closed, the miners redundant

they said that the mines were uneconomic

so they imported the coal, how ironic

they spent millions of pounds importing the coal

while the miners they were put on the dole

when the challenge was put down

they accepted the fight for their pride,

their jobs, their children’s birthright

all they wanted was to save our industries

but they closed the mines, the steelworks and factories

all the Tories wanted from the men down beneath

was revenge for what they did to Ted Heath

the shafts they are gone, the wheels are silent

the Tories closed them for spite, for enjoyment

the labour party said “the Tories don’t care”

but let’s be honest, they closed their share

and when these hard proud men had no more to give

left broken and breathless, struggling to live

and when the dust in their lungs took away their lives 

there was no compensation for their wives

the coal board sent letters, but they had no shame

all the letters were the same, saying “not enough to claim”

their shortage of breath was not down to us

it was asthma, emphysema or bronchitis

but when they closed the mines was it our saving grace

who wants to go down that dark dirty place

your colliery is safe, that’s all they would say

but the newscaster said it is closing today

they told us it was one of the safest in the land

so when we heard the news we didn’t understand

it is uneconomic, exhausted, no future they say

so they import the coal from the U.S.A

but wasn’t it a man from that faraway land

who closed our mines, for a hundred thousand grand

they didn’t even use the personal touch

they didn’t think they owed us that much

they offered redundancy or a chance to move on

but where would we go, the mines are all gone

we were told in the morning, told not to worry

tell us by five, take your time, don’t hurry

and when we had our redundancy pay

thirteen weeks wages were taken away

now the mines are no more, the valleys are bare

the once thriving communities are no longer there

but at least we can look at the sun when it shines

and be glad no sons of ours will ever go down that mine

their future in us they have put their trust

we must protect them from that dust

so many have left the valley’s so green

can you blame them after what they have seen

what is left for them in the valleys today

there’s no future for them, it’s all been taken away

so the thirtieth anniversary we will soon celebrate

so think back over the years, and stories relate

and think how many good men have gone to their graves

after years in the dark, where the dust made them slaves

the politicians don’t care to them it’s a game

they will never take any blame they go to their beds,

blissfully slumber to them you’re just a name and a number

where the mines once were is now neatly landscaped

but looking back are we glad that we escaped

no more proud men will they injure or maim

no more letters sent out saying “sorry no claim”

no more men with blue scars on their face

and the valley’s are a much cleaner place

the slag heaps too are being taken away

and the landscape is changing day after day

never again will the dust put good men in a shroud

goodbye to the mines we should all shout out loud

they’ve taken away too many good friends

so can we now let this be the end

the Tories are now back in power

but the miners will always be the men of the hour

for most can look you in the eye and say

we tried to fight not like the ones who sold their sons birthright

and so to our absent friends,

think how would they feel as we raise a glass to the silent wheels

                                     Copyright Ralph Jones                                        

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