Clock

Once it took a regular twelve hour shift to walk around with a clock in Grimethorpe.
A low paid security guard of N.U.M. remains: ripped floor-tiling, dust piling up like unused coal.
You had to find the key to fit the clock to record the time you found the key to account for your existence, the evidence collected.
A set of other keys echoing their jangle into empty spaces unlocking the door out to a wasteland of rooms without walls or ceilings
so you could see a cold October sky abuzz with stars and the coke plant behind its steel fence working up a head of grind and industrial lights.
You had nowt to do but waste your time, kick up weather worn tiles of old floors, to look forward to going in, losing the fresh air from the plant, to climb creaking stairs and reenter
the security guards room where Bill ogles Mayfair and the unattainableJasks why you’re back so early, didn’t you realise soon as you get back sooner he’s out
call you ‘Dumb Shit’, take the clock and keys and leave you to the room at Three o’clock. His tales of the steel industry that let him go will remain with you .
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You will remember this as you sit supping coffee in the Grimethorpe Activity Zone, as you wait for people to attend your jobsearch room, as you listen how the building you guarded will be called the heart of the Village.

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Industrial lights

are going out all over as I stand on one side of the Dearne and look over to where I patrolled the night before.
North Gawber colliery on the one side, Amco plant on the other. Where the lights are less I can see the other.
Tall concrete and steel warehouses, night workers. Unlike mine repair shops you can hardly hear their hammers and their welding on your walk outside, for another hour and a half, before a twenty minute break: get your coat off, note time of arrival, pray it’s not a dodgy biro,e quick slurp from your flask before out again to renew intimacy with Siberian cold.wpid-img_20140428_100616.jpg

 

The winter evening before stood sentry on the frozen cracked concrete edge of North Gawber pit I saw Willow bank , the only known site in South Yorkshire for plants with the weird names Frogbit and Whorled WaterMillfoil fall away to the Dearne.

Remains of old forest flank flow of river and misused canal where barges once unloaded prosperity, loaded hope to move away.

What did you know of history then? Wished you knew how to make go faster shifts.

And at night at Amco on the other side you walk along calm as owt, moan what a boring job this is, goalrake odd stones and wham! an industrial light half blinds.
Like a concentration camp searchlight snapped on you’ve been caught escaping, sirens go off and others are woken from sleep and all the massive orange plant, motorway builders still as museum dinosaur bones, stare at you, their metal darknesses deeper
and hear gust shake chains on their fuel tanks whip up shallow gravel round empty temporary huts, echo off discarded plastic wrapping.

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The Light 1985

I like light to come to my eyes gradually.

I will stand on the slagheap at midday and watch the fleeting clouds pass their shadows over the pit built solidly below.

It reminds me of wind gusting through cornfields. White clouds moving over hills in the Lake District or the Peak.

I sit on the edge of the manmade hill and see the different shadows ripple over the great washer building, over the cylindrical slurry tanks, move flat across the concrete bunkers where lie the remains of unused sand, gravel and lime. wpid-img_20140428_100148.jpg

It reminds me of the darkness a few days before when I was on nightshift at this place. Freezing till the veins of my hands stood up purple and ice encrusted in the ground made the concrete more hurtful when you fell like when I delivered the post one Christmas in Royston and slipped, the weight of the bag hauling me down to push and prise open the sprung letter boxes put the letter through so your whole hand went inside the house and then quick out for the lid to slam shut in your face.

The shadows are never what they seem and as the long night becomes morning without getting lighter you imagine bushes are people: old men slumped down after working the pit, Gentlemen in cloaks, or women in jeans so during the day real people seem like those shadows. Never what they seem.

 I think whoever I meet wants to hurt me. The brash people are like lights snapping on. They hurt my eyes. They frighten me. I want the darkness again. And yet the darkness always makes them what they are not.

I imagine shapes that revealed in the spotlight of my hat lamp are not what I imagined. wpid-img_20140428_100213.jpg

My father hit me when I was nine in a room whose electric brightness was too much for me . It invaded the darkness behind my wet eyes when closed.

My mother tried to hug me ironing her dress for going out. She was in her bra and panties. She hugged me to her and all I could saw was bright light, blinding me.

I turned away from her away from the light. Used my own body as a shield for my eyes.

Electric light reminds me of grief and tears.

The bulb was especially bright the night my mother told my sister and myself that dad and her were divorcing.

It had been too bright all the evenings they were arguing themselves into it.

I learn gradually. The light dawns as the cliche goes. When someone tells me something I look bemused because it takes a long time for the light to dawn.

I have no flashes of inspiration. My intuition is gradual, cumulative. People shine bright lights in my eyes when they try to hurry my thinking along. Because I do not think as fast as they would like me to.

My thoughts are clouds passing over the redundant pit and this is my life as far as I am concerned.

My last girlfriend dimmed harshness of the lounge light before we had sex on the couch awaiting her son, whom she said did not know we slept together. He would call out, ‘Mum. When you coming to bed?’

I always waited half between awake and asleep for his call like a harsh light in the eyes to come and alter the situation, for she always went upstairs and I was left.

Once I worked in a department store due to be closed because of the Recession.

 On the day we received, without warning, our redundancy notices, the section manager said ” Can We move those light fittings over there and bring those shades over here.”

On the training course they had explained that customers need to have fresh items to buy. They soon get bored. They need a thirty day or less ‘item bite’.

The job centre I’d worked at six months previous held the same opinion. Jobs on the boards were replaced every day by new ones.

John the lad I’d shared a house with three months could not stay in one place too long. He got bored. Same with his girlfriends.

Once we had shifted the items. put those that were not selling at best selling height we had lunch. I went out for fresh air. A demolition crew were knocking down the last of St. George’s church. I saw the new roundabout at Townend and the shop that had changed it’s name from Leos to Pioneer.

It struck me all of a sudden.

I saw the corrugated roofs of the new shops and knew every building, every person in the town was temporary.

It had been a local joke that the council ignored preservation orders and knocked down old buildings. There was still nostalgia for the best market in Britain that had been ‘improved’ by a concrete indoor market, after the flood of 1968.

Workmen are always digging up the recently laid pedestrian precinct. Plenty of jobs in the demolition and construction trade.

Recently, the closure of all pits in the area, renowned for its mining had enlarged the unemployment figures. They said the ‘shanty towns’ would become ‘ghost towns’. This town is a shanty town.

 

We are all gypsies. ‘Go,move,shift’ by our own decision but mainly others. The supermarket had renamed itself correctly. This is a frontier town.

Temporary and shifting. The place does not move. The people and buildings ever on the border.

I return to my bedsit, at the end of day, in preparation for the job hunt the following day. I learn my landlord has been registered an undischarged bankrupt.

UPDATE 2014 Psychogeography

Dodworth pit is now an out of Town industrial estate, that the overgrown green pitstack rises above like an Alpine hill.

Pioneer demolished, is now Lidl and Bargain Store.

And secret river Sough Dyke flies under the road downhill from Posh Pogmoor to Townend, where once Linen reservoirs once flowed onwards into the Dearne is now a lovely park for winos And some early early mornings you can hear Sough Dyke rushing under the road. Bottom of Market Hill when excavated workmen discovered the remains of an Eighteenth Century bridge over the Sough. So Market Hill used to be steeper. History is buried.

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