The history of Somerset miners – I hate PC upgrades

by | Nov 17, 2017 | Latest Post | 0 comments

Reading Time: 6 minutes

In today’s edition – The history of Somerset miners – PC upgrades

From Pepys diary Wednesday 16 November 1664

My wife not being well, waked in the night, and strange to see how dead sleep our people sleep that she was fain* to ring an hour before any body would wake. At last one rose and helped my wife, and so to sleep again.


Off to Terry my computer fundi (that’s South African speak for expert). He has built me a new computer and now each element has to talk  to the Mother Board to see if they are compatible both with the board and with each other. Compared with this, a first date is a breeze. Tonight is testing night and my shiny new min-tower remains at his place.  Firefox have just brought out a new version which i automatically downloaded without asking you. I note that some ideas have been borrowed from Opera.

I hate upgrades forced upon us especially Skype ones. Functionality is seldom more than marginally increased. They never beta test them properly with all the main operating systems and I try to avoid those updates if I possibly can. They are usually geared to sell you more stuff.
All being well by tomorrow lunchtime I will have a lightening fast silent computer (it has a huge fan / heat dump) and then I will have the pleasure of re-installing most of my programmes.


Whilst leaving Terry’s house I noticed a group of three people. One of them, a bearded young man, was making strange animal sounds, staring, walking normally, then making the growling or grunting sounds again. I wondered what quality of life this suffering soul had. The two minders walked with him, respectfully and quietly. As they turned the corner I had a certain respect for those who give their time day after day, week after week, month after month, to care for those whose brains do not work.


The last dance saloon

My my*  (an English expression not a typo) we keep ourselves going, so off to Camerton Community Hall for a talk (which turned out to be a film of 96 minutes) on Miners of Somerset. 80 people were assembled. The format consisted entirely of old miners sharing their stories. Each clip was about 30-45 seconds. We were shown shots of men in their eighties and nineties when they were younger interspersed with the actual interview. They were straight to camera with the interviewer keeping out of the way of the shots.  Perfect for retro viewing. Not suitable for TV as not gimmicky enough. The audience loved it.

  • My My is similar to ‘Wow. I’m impressed.’ The phrase is often used to tease someone for example a late riser who wakes early can elicit the comment “My, my, you are up early”.  It’s use is seldom mean or offensive. It is playful and fun. In the case above I am making fun of myself.

80 enthusiastic people

I did not take notes but here are some mental snap shots.

Getting up at 4.30am for your shift. The wife cooks you breakfast and off you trudge….. in those days there was no water except an outside tap, no toilet except a shed down the garden. Dad emptied the bucket every so often. We had wonderful produce. In those days, growing your own was the only way to get enough food….. the sense of comradeship was very strong and friendships lasted for life…. they took a canary down with them to check for carbon dioxide. Once the foreman took his eye off it and the canary died…. until 1911 the men had no tools and undercut blocks of coal about 6′ by 4′ then broke them up….. there were two men and a carrier in a group. Wages were not paid individually but to the group on a Saturday morning. The men were seen sitting around dividing up the money. Their wives were close by getting a share before it all disappeared into the pub…any aspect of mine work was dangerous but working at the face particularly so… even with all the rules and regulations, stone fell down and broke arms, legs and spinal cords…wounded men used to be given lighter duties in the canteen and so forth …..the local mines worked in three shifts; 6am-2pm; 2 pm- 10 pm; 10 pm to 6 am….. there were no baths until the advent of showers after the nationalisation act of 1947. Men had to wash and then kneel in the bath in front of the fire. … washing water had to be heated in kettles and pans.. when the bath had been finished with, the whole had to be taken out and poured away… ponies were carefully examined before being allowed down to work. They were well treated and during the annual holidays were taken up and grazed in fields…. the men suffered from fine dust which under certain combinations was explosive but was in any event injurious to the lungs. Men coughed up dirt long after they finished their shift… in spite of investment in machines the coal seams were not thick enough to enable the company to make a profit and the last Somerset mine closed in 1973… a wife complained because she never knew when she would see her husband. He would lave at 6am and not return until midnight… they often asked each other to help out.. men used to get raw hands from pulling ropes and raw backs from pulling ropes but they just used their own urine and wiped it in coal dust on the affected parts to make them be come tougher… this physical work has to be performed day after day and even at weekends.. many men do not reach 65 without major accidents… the air around the colliery was so dirty that window sills and front doors had to be cleaned 2 or 3 times a day…many people from eastern Europe came to work. The Polish people had (to the bosses) unpronounceable names so they were given nick names such as Joe the pole, or Fred the pole…..

Suffering and hard work wise “we don’t know we are born”.

This phrase  appears to be an exclusively British idiom. It is used of those (primarily the rich and the young) who enjoy freedom from want or responsibility and behave as if they are unconscious that they were merely born into this freedom and that others (the poor and adults) are not so fortunate.

Anyway, enough of this gay banter. To chocolate drinks and then to bed.



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