Response to the film: Sounds from Beneath by Mikhail Karikis & Uriel Orlow – essay

(This piece was written as an exercise on a course at Arvon.)

Twelve years before the miner’s strikes I was a teenager in D.H. Lawrence land. Pit villages went to battle against each other on Friday nights in the town centre. We gathered – the greasers from Calverton pit on one side of the street – the skinheads from Cotgrave pit on the other. Bottles, threats and punches were thrown, blood pooled on pavements. Girls and sirens screamed when the police arrived.

I chatted to Rob from Cotgrave, then crossed the road to talk to Mick, from Calverton.

Whose side are you on?

Neither

So neither side accepted me, or attacked me.

Two years later I lived in Belfast during the later years of the troubles. I had many friends, both Catholics and Protestants.

Whose side are you on?

Neither

So neither side accepted me, or attacked me.

My second child was born in the winter of discontent in 1984.

My sister chanted Thatcher Thatcher milk snatcher.

My parents were Tories.

They asked me whose side I was on – I said nothing.

I watched, listened and learned. This government has rekindled a flame in my heart from the dying coals. I see the welfare state being dismantled brick by brick and I am angry. Coalfields turned into leisure parks, fields into shopping malls.

Whose side are you on?

Neither

They are all the same – grey men in grey suits with black hearts, stained with coal dust. I join the choir of discontent and raise my voice with passion, I howl with fury.

 

 

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