A Collier Boy
A poem by Basil Walters
What is that noise that awful shriek
That has aroused me from my sleep.
It was the alarm within my clock
With fingers in ears the noise to block.
The noise I hated like no other
A shout up the stairs, a shout from my mother.
Come on get up it’s getting late
My breakfast was a piece of toast upon a plate.
I dressed in my work clothes so full of dirt and grime
Which has come from working down the coal mine,
My boots were heavy my socks full of holes
my boots were so noisy with those hob-nailed soles,
A kiss from my Mam I felt a bit bolder
A bag to carry my bread and jam upon my shoulder,
A walk to the mine along a quiet dark street
Arriving on time my workmates to meet.
I picked up my lamp to lighten the dark
Once down the mine my work time will start,
We enter the cage on a dangling wire rope
The air was so foul I nearly did choke,
We landed at pit bottom with a bit of a bang
But that didn’t stop the songs that we sang,
The comradeship down the mine is like no other
We treat each other like he’s your brother.
We work so hard in that hot coal face
When the shift ends to pit bottom we race,
We enter the cage to the surface we go
A breath of fresh air not foul like a moment ago,
I walk down the street with a quickening pace
To have a hot bath and a clean face,
My Mam was waiting by the door
To welcome me home she knew the score.
The water was boiling on a hot coal fire
A hot bath was now my one desire.
My Mam cooked a meal now on the table
I eat as much as I am able,
I sit in the sun until the day turns dark
And then off to bed for soon another day will start.
Then I wake up to that awful shriek
That has cut short my beautiful sleep.