Thursday, March 19, 2009

1984 revisited: the Miners' gala

Miners' gala
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
When I first thought of marking the 25th anniversary of the Miners' Strike, this is the photo that I was determined to find. It shows me and a pal from Dunoon CND on the back of a CND float, waiting to take our place in the Miners' Gala procession through the streets of Edinburgh to Holyrood Park. There, in a huge tent, we heard speeches from Bruce Kent and Mick McGachey - a considerably more impressive leader than Arthur Scargill ever was - and met some women who'd been in Dunoon for the action earlier in the year.

It was an extraordinary experience, both exhilarating and sad, but one where, in the midst of all the church hellishness and lack of warmth, I felt at one with so many people. (I had plenty to choose from - there were 10,000 people there). The missile on the lorry, as well as the badges with which we were adorned, made it immediately obvious where our sympathies lay, and people lining the streets cheered us as we passed. I clearly remember passing a group of miners on a street corner - we'd paused to negotiate a tight bend - and hearing one of them call out : "Save our pits, Missus!" - and I remember too thinking that I didn't know where to start.

Thatcher's Britain was a hard place for many Scots, and that June day in 1984 underlined the fact. But it was a day of intense comradeship which made me forget for a while all the stuff back home, and I think my expression shows that.

And it was a day when two ten-year-old boys were allowed by their mad mothers to ride on the back of an open lorry. Now, how many chaps have that to look back on?

1 comment:

  1. I heard that Mick McGaghey got better and better the more whisky he'd consumed! But I agree! A brilliant orator and you just caught his passion!