The main theme is to do with the life of Robert Saint and the miner's hymn 'Gresford' which he wrote. It commemorated the disaster in 1934 in a North Wales pit of the same name where 256 men and boys lost their lives in an explosion. The book expands on the day to day lives of mining communities in the North East and the troubles which lead to the final closers after the 1980s strike.
The last chapter (31) intrigued me because it awakened memories of my early childhood that had not come to mind for many years. It describes a farm called Mill Hill where Saint died in 1950 and I just wondered if I had passed that place on a trip with my mother to visit relatives in East Boldon. We went by bus and I seem to remember turning right at the Robin Hood and passing through a beautiful valley surrounded by trees. There was a farmhouse with animals grazing in the surrounding fields. It was almost a magical place to me because it was so different to the pit houses we lived in at Hebburn Colliery. Mill Hill is described as being in or around a place called Hedworth and I just wondered if these 'farms' were one an the same place.
I must relate the funny side of this trip now that I have remembered it. My uncle Albert Lavery was a miner in East Boldon and kept rabbits in the small back garden of his colliery house. I was so much taken by these animals that he gave me one to take home in one of those old brown paper carrier bags. When we got half way home in the bus I just had to lift the bag up to take another look at my new pet. Well, wouldn't you know that poor little thing had wet itself and went straight through the bottom of the bag. You wouldn't believe the commotion. The driver stopped the bus and everybody was up in arms trying to catch it. We managed in the end and got it back to my grandparents home in Arthur Street. I have to say that this did not stop us from our family ritual of consuming a rabbit every weekend. Suffice to say that my dear little rabbit never made it to the pot and I like to think that he must have turned a blind eye to my weekly eating habits.