The Pitmen Poets
There is no doubt this concert was a cultural experience, and revered too by those who travelled a very long way to be there. To the non-Geordie though, sometimes a translation might have been helpful!
It was over a year since The Pitmen Poets gave their last concert and they say they will not be giving another one this year – hence the dedicated “groupies” determination to be there despite long distance travel, and in some cases overnight hotel stays.
With a backdrop of journalistic photographs of the miner’s and their families from the north east, they entranced us with lilting ballads and tuneful melodies and songs of the struggles and strife endured by the mining communities from the mid 1800s child labour, up to, inevitably, the acrimonious miner’s strike of 1984/85.
Their narrative made it crystal clear why these communities were bound together with such tight cameraderie and so fought so vehemently when their pits were closed down. These men (and in the early days, whole families, including their children), endured a terrible, hard and dangerous life underground, hence relying on each other to an unbelievable extent. When the pit of a mining town closed you would think they would be relieved to no longer endure such deprivation and hard work, but the whole community would be made destitute as the mine was the heartbeat of the town.
But their songs were not all bleary eyed, morbid reminiscences, there were some comic tales too, even including the benefits of the local newspaper over Izal toilet paper (remember that?) in the freezing, outside toilet of a miner’s terrace house.
Yes, definitely a cultural experience, and a very enjoyable evening as well.