ESSAY Bridget Blankley

NWR Issue 118

What Grandfather's Secretly Want: In the Shadow of the Mines

His pay went up every year, on the anniversary of his apprenticeship. The idea was that he was paid more as he had more experience, never reaching a man’s wage, but a fair reflection of the amount of useful work he could do. It wasn’t like that, he said. He told me that he was doing the same work as the colliers within eighteen months. Not as skilled as them, of course, and not as quick, either; he was still a boy and didn’t have the build of the men who’d been cutting coal for ten or twenty years. He didn’t seem to have any complaints about the actual apprenticeship. Well, he didn’t complain when I knew him, but that was fifty years later. It was what happened when he reached twenty-one that upset him. As he approached his birthday he was given his cards: notice to quit three days after reaching adulthood, the time at which he would have to have been paid a full wage. He never forgave the colliery manager or the industry in general. Although he was classed as a skilled mineworker he didn’t go down the mines again...

Bridget Blankley came late to writing, having worked in engineering, education and quality assurance. She was born in Nottingham, where most of her family still live. Although her home is in south Wales, Bridget is living in Southampton at present, having just completed a creative writing degree. Bridget’s first book, a Young Adult novel called The Ghosts and Jamal, is just out with HopeRoad. ‘In the Shadow of the Mines: A Personal Essay’, a book-length entry from which this is an extract, was highly commended in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2018: Aberystwyth University Prize for an Essay Collection, awarded this summer.


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