The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

I have this idea for a story, but it is fat too long for a blog, so I thought I could break it down into small bites and put it on my blog each day as I did with the Tour of Britain, and still keep my cycling exploits going too.

From school to the pit

The two boys were sitting on their haunches with their backs against the Co-op wall, a building that took up most of the Main Street, and where most every stitch of clothing on their backs and every morsel of food they had consumed over the years had come from. Big Jock joined them, Jock, never said much at the best of time and said nothing now just slotted himself into the group. Big Jock had lost his father before he was born, although there was some who believed he was never there in the first place. To help his mother out Jock, worked up at the farm during the weekends and during the harvest, but as he neared his fourteenth birthday, the Truant Officer was never away from his mothers door.

“Are you going to st’y on at the ferm or will you be going doon the pit wi us next week?” Jimmy asked him.

“The pit, there’s nay money on the ferm” said Jock.

The three classmates walked doon the Station Brae with the rest of the miners the Saturday after the school broke up for the summer.

Jimmy and Laurimer pushed the tub out to the pit bottom where it would be sent up to the pithead, there the girls would separate coal from stane, only coal brought to the pit head would be paid for in wages and shared out amongst the team that had worked it.

Auld Pete called Jimmy over, “Ask your dad for a fill for my pipe, tell him it’s for Pete and he will get it back the morn, there a lad”

Jimmy’s dad cut an inch of tobacco from its length and handed it to Jimmy, “Here take that to Pete, that will keep him going to the shift ends” he assured his son.

Sure enough next day when Jimmy brought the first tub to the pit bottom, Pete handed him a small piece of tobacco and Jimmy delivered it to his dad.

“Whit’s this?” he questioned the boy. The tobacco Jimmy had handed his dad was only about half the size of the piece he had given Jimmy to take to Pete yesterday.

“You tell Pete, when you go back, that your dad’s no happy and tell him to give you at least the same again”.

Jimmy did as he was told and on his return to the coal face, his dad was waiting for him.

“Did you get my tobacco from Pete?”

“No dad, Pete said to tell you that the bit o’ tobacco he gave you in return came from the Co-op”.

To be continued Tomorrow.

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