How very, very sad. Once again I have to say that this is not the blog I intended to publish but I’ve just watched (last night) the local news. A mistake some would say. What does this have to do with a retirement blog? Well I think it is something to do with having respect for the past.

This blog is a mess and that’s because I am angry, it’s a rant alright. The item that moved me close to tears was the report that Kellingley colliery was closing. In 1984 I stood on the picket lines as Maggie closed the pits so people might say, ahh, you’re just another biased leftie, but that wouldn’t be true and I have to say I found Arthur Scargill a hindrance to that battle rather than an asset. Too easy for the middle of the road voter to dismiss. But that’s another era. Or is it?

I  can’t and don’t intend to debate the figures about how much coal is in the ground. It’s not the point. Profit is not the only issue here. Life, and a country, is not just about profit. We pay our taxes to areas of life that aren’t designed only to make profit. What we need in a good country is balance. We need balance in how we make our energy, what we manufacture, green policies, about how wealth is distributed etc. etc. etc. The country is all out of whack and the closure of 2 of the last 3 deep mine colleries in the UK is yet another example of this imbalance. The power stations are 5 miles away, Russia, America, South America the last time I looked were a lot further. That can’t be right. Something not right here. The energy companies, yes, them again, are buying coal cheap from USA because prices have dropped as a result of fracking. Have energy prices gone down as a result? Duh, no.

Should an area – geographical or manufacturing – be supported when it doesn’t make a profit? Is it all about making money for companies and their shareholders? Is that what life is all about? The answer is clear – to a point. Pouring money down the drain is irresponsible. Moving beyond a total profit motive is not, it’s essential. We need green, coal-powered power stations, we need jobs, we need communities to live on, we need jobs for those communities and not just in London and the South East. Other areas get subsidies why not colleries?

And at another level, heritage industries are vital in this country, it would be madness if they weren’t, this country has so much heritage to be proud of. People want certain aspects of the past to endure because it enriches the lives of us all today. Coal is one of those areas. The industrial revolution, the making of this country hasn’t gone forever. It is maintained because we want it, we need it. It’s part of our culture. So should uneconomic colleries be supported? Absolutely, it’s that balance again, if we were talking about maintaining 50 colleries that are uneconomic then the answer would be, no that’s too much. But here we have a situation, and I know I said it wasn’t all about profit, but do we believe that the current company really have done their very best to increase profits to a reasonable level. I think not. And the government, can we trust them to do their best, again Je think not.

Yes, this is a rant, but if I want to rant on my own blog site then  I bloody well will. It’s wrong, morally and even economically to close all our pits. In a balanced world we need some pits, we even have some shipyards, foundries, we even make some parts of railways and vehicles in this country. Should money be taken from other important areas? Yes, of course. I have  no connection with the coal industry as I do with schools, hospitals, roads etc etc but two things – some money should be used to support pits and more should be done to maintain coal’s profitability in the face of international pressures . It should be done.

In retirement I look back with fondness at aspects of the past. I never thought that coal would be one of those aspects. But these closures are so unbalanced that they demand attention.

Just to end this depressing blog on a slightly lighter note and this is quite a book to turn to for lightness or amusement, things have come to a pretty pass when we have to look to Cormac McCarthy’s ‘No Country for Old Men’ for comfort; maybe the title says it all. In the book one of the deputies says :

It’s a mess ain’t it, Sheriff

The Sheriff replies :

If it ain’t it’ll do til a mess gets here

Well, what we have here is a mess and it’s a shame.

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