Still Shovelling

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Poems about Miners

Still Shovelling

Still Shoveling

My name is Tam Scott – and I was born to one thing
To shovel coal for a Pit boss and rake dross from a bing.
I was lean I was hard, from my time down the pit
I gave my sweat for a pittance, while the Pit boss got rich
Shovelling coal – shovelling coal for a pit boss.

We would often go hungry when a coal seam dried up
No coal meant no pittance, meant no food on our plate-
More in debt to the pit boss in arrears with his rent
Shovelling coal – shovelling coal for a pit boss.

Then the Factor would come and say that interest was due.
The pit Boss had costs and there was now’t he could to do.
I was bonded, enslaved, resigned to my plight,
Shovelling coal for a pittance from daybreak to night
Shovelling coal – shovelling coal for a pit boss.

Then in 1914, all suddenly changed
When some Grand Duke was shot in some faraway place
Soon the Germans mucked in- their Kaiser set out his stall
So I threw off my shackles to answered the call.
Shovelling coal – shovelling coal for a pit boss.

Sign here bonny lad, the recruiting sergeant had said.
Sign here bonny lad and a Kings Guinea you’ll get
With new boots and a rifle and a new shaving set.
Sign here bony lad -sign here
Shovelling coal – shovelling coal for a pit boss.

With warm grub in my belly and steel in my spine
I marched off to fight with my pals from the mine
To Flanders, we sang, as we sailed on the tide.
Shovelling coal- shovelling coal for a pit boss.

So to Flanders I went with steel in my spine
They soon singled us out- us boys from the mine.
They said put down thy rifle and pick up that spade
Then I started to dig for the next ninety-five days.
Shovelling dirt – shovelling dirt for a king.

Trench Digging

I sweated and toiled for my country and King
Digging out thousands of tons of dirt from a mine
Where they stacked the explosives beneath the Bosh lines
Shovelling dirt – shovelling dirt for a king.

It was a fearsome sight when they set off the charge
With a thunderous roar that lifted the air
That left the scar of destruction and death everywhere.
But unfortunately for us the Bosh were still there.
Shovelling dirt – shovelling dirt for a King.

Lay down thy shovel lad, and pick up thy gun
Your days as a miner are over and done.
So I lined up to charge with my pals from the mine
-waiting silently for the whistle to signal the time
Shovelling dirt – shovelling dirt for a king.

The barrage came first; it was to cut through the wire
A rolling thunder of guns that churned the ground to a mire.
They had used the wrong shells through incompetent planning
The vast lines of wire, were untouched and still standing
Shovelling dirt – shovelling dirt for a King.

We clambered up the ladders as the whistles blew time
Don’t run said our Captain- before a bullet hit home
He was there for a second and then he was gone
Oh, how I wished I were back in the mine
Shovelling coal – shovelling coal for a pit boss.

Up a-head they were waiting, for us to get stuck
Once we got to the wire, we knew we were fu**ed.
Their barrels ran hot – we were picked off like ducks
Shovelling dirt – shovelling dirt for a King

Then a Gerrie grenade knocked me arse over tick
And when I came to- Christ I thought I was dead
But lucky for me I was in a hospital bed
and I couldn’t believe what the field doctor said
No more shovelling dirt for a King.

They then shipped me straight back to the place I had left
With a honourable discharge and a grenade in my leg
Back to that mine, that soul-sucking thing
To Shovel coal for a Pit Boss, and rake dross from the bing.

The end

A poem by John Scott

A note from John:

I come from a line of East Lothian born miners going back several generations. My father was a fireman at Monktonhall colliery till it finally closed in 84. though I never became a miner on leaving school in 75, on the express wishes of my father not to follow in the tradition of following my peers under ground. I grew up listening to the stories of miners of days past.  I write fore a hobby. And poetry is a wonderful way to to tell a story. I would like to submit a piece of work to your anthology that  I had originally wrote as a folk song.

Painting source: Ashington on Pinterest

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If you have any Poems… Send them to Bill

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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