All Out Comrades!!

Ahead of me lays a weekend in the company of two mates (Bill & Alan) I first met as work colleagues in 1983. Our then employer the recently renamed British Coal (originally the National Coal Board), not long rebranding as a pre-requisite to forthcoming privatisation and industry decimation.

The name change a gift from the then government who just couldn’t stop giving when it came to ‘safeguarding’ the nation’s heavy industry sector.

As I’m loathe to pen about politics, I’ve no desire to discuss thoughts on the early 80’s government strategy under Margaret Thatcher’s stewardship. Apart from saying her portly Chancellor of the Exchequer (Nigel Lawson) looked as though he enjoyed his food. Although, if it was his daughter Nigella doing the home cooking I suppose that was understandable.

While Thatcher, Lawson and Cabinet colleague dined gluttonously at the top table, my two buddies and me (like many thousand others) were seeing our chosen industry being dismantled in front of us……. I’m not doing very well with this ‘avoid writing about politics at all costs’ malarkey am I?

Bill, the more politically sensitive of our trinity, was often heard to voice rhetoric slanted toward left wing politics. A renowned rabble rouser, my pal loved a demonstration, whether it was required or not!

As our union representative Billy B (as no one called him) secured the abolition of our works uniform. With the exception of office clerk Julie who he thought looked good in short kilt, bikini top and diving flippers.

Mr B also attempted to lead us into industrial action (without ballot) after randomly decreeing the workforce had a right to converse in Arabic during tea breaks. As none of us could speak Arabic and we weren’t actually banned from utilising foreign tongues, we resisted our union reps mischief making.

Mind you, Bill had more luck gaining support for a ‘sit in’ to complain about the unjustified jailing of Deirdrie Rashid on TV soap Coronation Street. His action backed vociferously by the fragrant but bolshie Geraldine, Sonia and Bernardette in the Data Control section. My Sunderland born mucker so angry about the injustice of Deirdrie’s plight he burnt his bra in protest.

Although a great man who fought tenaciously for workers rights, the disclosure he wore a bra initially unsettled one or two of his colleagues. The north east of England of the 1980’s not a hot bed of tolerance and inclusivity. It was only when it materialised it was his wife’s undergarment he’d incinerated that work environment tensions eased.

So close was our bound, I asked Bill and Alan to both undertake the role of godfathers to my eldest child Jonathon. They were so delighted when I asked them to partake in contributing to my son’s spiritual growth Alan unconvincingly mumbled back “I suppose so.” Prior to Bill aggressively responded “I’ll do it as long as the Christening candles reach British health and safety standards; not to mention you ensure there’s demarcation clarity as to Alan and my role description.”

Did either of my buddies contribute to Jonathon’s spiritual enlightenment during his fledgling years? Did they b******s!

It wasn’t a completely unfruitful decision to ask Alan and Bill to be godfather to my boy, as my offspring possesses a thorough knowledge of British industrial relations law….. Chuffing lefty!

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