Saturday, 5 September 2009

Edlington needs power and pride, not pity

Back in March I wrote of my experience in South Yorkshire during the miners' strike; I didn't then identify the village I wrote about, but it was Edlington, and it was the men who worked in the Yorkshire Main 3,000 feet below our quarry, some of whom I came to know, who were on strike.

I've never been back, but in a strongly-argued piece in today's Times Janice Turner invites us to visit that place. I can see in my mind's eye exactly the place that Janice describes, though the men I knew 25 years ago may now be dead or decrepit, such is the difference in life expectancies between poor ex-miners and comfortably affluent London professionals. Back then, drugs were a few shared spliffies - giggly grass, or some crumbly hashish, and then with moderation; eight hours between bottle and throttle was a good rule when you were operating machinery that could kill your mates.

The Dude is quite right in terming me a drugs Puritan, for I truly loathe both hard drugs and Skunk, a version of cannabis so auto-nihilistic that like Absinthe it's a quick path to insanity. And it's the drugs in Edlington that Turner blames for the recent horrors there.

Save your pity for Edlington, though. It's not pity its people need, but power in their own community; power to drive-out the druggies, power to deal with their delinquent kids. The people of these pit villages have Localism in their DNA, and their voluntary collectivism will manifest itself in brass bands and fiercely tribal village football teams. And those skills long learned from the NCB and passed from father to son are not yet dead; skills that can strip and rebuild an engine, fabricate and engineer pretty much anything from scrap, improvise and contrive. Garden shed ingenuity is alive and well in Edlington. The potential of these people is so much more than a catalogue goods distribution warehouse. Give them power and pride will follow.

12 comments:

JuliaM said...

"It's not pity its people need, but power in their own community; power to drive-out the druggies, power to deal with their delinquent kids. "

How are they to get that power, though?

The authorities did nothing while the family alternately abused their own children and themselves.

Complaints were met with shrugged indifference or, in one case, a warning that they should not bandy names about without proof!

What could they do, and still stay within the law themselves?

electro-kevin said...

The former way of life occurred organically. It was an spin-off from viable industry and the limited spare time that the workers had - coupled with Christian altruism from the middle and upper classes, and drive from unionists there became social structure.

When spare time is limited (and hard earned) it becomes precious and better utilised.

What you propose is an entirely artificial social intervention with no capitalist basis to it.

What is needed is proper industry for horny-handed and simple-minded people (like me) to do. The rest will follow.

What we don't need is equality. Welfare has stepped in as the equalising force and indeed there is little to between my lifestyle (fifty hours per week of skilled work) and the unemployed neighbours in the semi next door.

Indeed their daughter has been admitted to an institution because of acute paranoia brought on by the use of skunk canabis.

They all smoke, have mobiles, two cars ... never work ...

Welfare is exacerbating the problem. It needs cutting back drastically.

(Incidentally. The awful story you mention here pushed another to page 7 in the papers. The one about the chap who ate his friend's brains with butter. Such a barbaric nation we have become.)

electro-kevin said...
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Henry North London said...

I know Edlington very well It is 4 miles from where I grew up and I used to go through it every day in the school term for 9 years.

Before the pit closed, and after wards.

There are bars on the windows on the only chinese takeaway in town.

The trees that were planted in the green space as saplings are now semi mature but the place exudes stagnation

I still go through it from time to time, The Co op is built on the old Yorkshire Main entry site, and usually has the cheapest petrol for miles around.

Its a saddening place to go through.

Elby the Beserk said...

The youths of Edlinton
Won't put down their Remington
The youth of Brixton
They have their 45 Smith and
Wesson pistol pistol
The youth of Utica Avenue
They just can't keep cool
So much gun shot some
cripple some turn fool
They are responsible for a lot
of children
And they need food
And they want to go to school

I say the youth of Edlington
Won't put down their Remington
I say the youth of Kingston
Won't leave their Magnum
pistol pistol
A very thin line to start the crime
Who will be the first to
volunteer
You love you love your fuckery
Get up and get yourself together
You hear the words of Jah Jah
coming from the hill top of
Dabra Dabra
Keep you strength

The youth of Edlington
Won't put down their Remington
I say the youth of Brixton
They put down their 45 Smith
and Wesson pistol pistol

Stop and listen
They want you to fight the good fight
But save you strength
For strength of life
The youths in Africa
All a dem a thriller

I say the youth of Edlington
Won't put down their Remington
The youth of Kingston
Won't leave their Magnum
pistol pistol
Poor Jill she was a spill
she got hit by a stray shot

The youths of Edlington
Won't put down their Remington
The youths of Brixton
They put down their 45 Smith
and Wesson pistol pistol

Wrong on drugs, Raedwald. At 58 I have the absolute right to put whatever I like into my metabolic system, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. I regularly smoke weed, occasionally take (only the best) MDMA, similarly Mushrooms. The latter two I consider medicines for the spirit, the former the equivalent of may parents' gin and tonic. I'v raised a fine family of four, bought and paid off a house, look after my health and fuck with no-one except those who fuck with me. I'll take what I want thanks.

No fucker tells me what I can and cannot take.

JuliaM said...

"I regularly smoke weed, occasionally take (only the best) MDMA, similarly Mushrooms. The latter two I consider medicines for the spirit, the former the equivalent of may parents' gin and tonic. I'v raised a fine family of four, bought and paid off a house, look after my health and fuck with no-one..."

And there are lots of people who drink socially, yet manage not to beat up old ladies, puke in the streets or require police control.

I think it matters not what you put into your body, but rather, what your upbringing puts into your ... well, for sake of a better word, call it your soul.

Have a grounded life, and you will be able to handle narcotics better than those leading chaotic lives, or lives based upon lies.

electro-kevin said...

Elby

The fact is that the Edlington Mum's preoccupation with drug taking led almost directly to the production of a psycopathic killer.

The sole purpose of drugs is intoxication. The same cannot be said of liquor. And intoxication beyond feeling a little tipsy IS harmful to both the person and society.

My worst mistakes have been made when I've been drunk.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Welfare dependency is at the root of this tragedy imho.

But heaven knows how we break out of the vicious circle; in places like Edlington there is now the second generation of this kind of nihilism. In parts of Glasgow there is the third.

Nobody has any answers, it seems.

Elby the Beserk said...

EK. Nope mate - some "drugs" are not such, but have been used as medicines for the soul since the dawn of time.

You'd better believe me - I've been at 'em for 40 years now, and you've met me. Wouldn't have know, would you.

Mexicans and others have been using Mushrooms for centuries. You can see them in old Aztec wall carvings. Similarly Peyote. MDMA has and is used for deep therapy with abuse and trauma victims, as it allows you to look at what has happened to you with pain, without blame.

These are medicines. The only "drug" I take is weed. And alcohol.
I saw alcohol kill both of my parents.

I certainly do not need the state to tell me what I can and cannot ingest. They can fuck right off.

JuliaM. Just so. Spot on.

electro-kevin said...
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electro-kevin said...

I do wonder at the civilising effects of mild narcotics on the Mexicans and the Aztecs, Elby.

I agree with you entirely on the alcohol issue. I've had personal problems with it in the past. Thankfully I've grown out of it - unlike one or two of my friends (erstwhile).

Elby the Beserk said...

EK. The old tribes in Mexico STILL use Peyote. Shamen the world over have used and still use mushrooms. How many GBH cases did you come across when you were a copper initiated by any of MDMA, Mushrooms or weed?

I rest my case. Ban these, there is no choice but to ban alcohol. To do anything else is rank hypocrisy.