Saturday, 9 February 2013

At the Coalface by Catherine Paton Black. Book review

I've been getting through quite a few books this winter, I don't usually read that much, but I've been lucky to find the books I like, and it's been nice to snuggle up under the duvet and lose myself in a good story. I noticed in the front of this book, it said it was written by a ghost writer, which prompted me to googlie the ghostwriters name as well as the authors name. More interesting stuff to absorb. 
I found myself reading very quickly at the beginning, I am so impatient to get to the real nitty gritty of the story. I am guilty of skipping a few pages, because I wanted to dive straight in. Once I found a page which held my interest, I carried on reading, and as the story unfolded I was spurred on to find out what happened next. Then when I reached the end of the book, I went back to the beginning to pick up on the bits that I had missed. I quite often do that, a bit arse about face I know, but it works for me. 
Catherine Paton was born in Lanarkshire in 1946, and married Doug Black when she was 19 years old. Doug promised his father that he wouldn't follow him down the mines. After struggling with terrible poverty in the 1970's in Scotland, Doug decided a pit job would provide his wife and young family with enough money to live on. They moved to Nottinghamshire, and every day Cath was worried for the safety of her husband. There were several horrific accidents down the mine, and one day, Doug was taken to hospital after a wall of coal collapsed on his back.
A large part of the book details the 1984 miners strike, and how it tore whole communities, and families apart. Catherine was one of the few female official picketers when she joined her husband in the fight to stop the pit closures. I can remember driving a lorry for Hazelwood Foods at that time, and hoping and praying that I wouldn't have any deliveries for coal mine canteens. Luckily I didn't so I wasn't faced with the prospect of crossing a picket line. There were some terrible scenes on the television though. The strike lasted almost a year, and Cath describes how the miners drifted back to work because they were worn down by it all, and fed up of not having enough food to eat, and money to pay their bills.
Catherine Paton Black is a woman of substance, she held the family together through terrible hardships. There was a time when they lost everything through a fire, and another time when they were burgled and had all their furniture stolen. She always found a way forward through her strength of character and her gritty outlook on life. I enjoyed the book, and would recomend it to anyone who likes a good down to earth story about ordinary working folk.
It was a nice day for dog walking today. I took Alfie and Ollie for a bimble. These are some of my dog walking friends. Steve and Penny.
Graham and Benjie
Barry and Scruff.
I made a start on sorting the garage out, it will take a few days to get it done. If it is fine tomorrow I will carry on with it, but I think snow is forecast. Have a nice Sunday. Toodle pip.


  1. Hi Ilona,
    I enjoyed reading your book review.I live in the middle of a mining area and can relate to the themes the author has written about.The mining boom here in Australia has brought in massive revenue but at a very high price for our quality of life. I sometimes think we have become a quarry for Asia. But today I am counting my blessings and enjoying every moment of this beautiful blue sky day.
    Cheryl x

  2. Glad to see you out and about with the dogs, Ilona!

    We've just had a bit of a snowfall here, and although my dog helped me with chores as usual, she was very, very happy to come straight back inside to her blanket the moment I said "done"!

  3. My great grandfather was a miner..he vowed his sons would never go down the pit,and they didn't. It's a hard life. I was at a party in the mid of the guests was a policeman who bragged that he built a patio and garden on his overtime during the miner's strike....didn't like him much!
    Jane x

  4. It was terrible for the miners who lost their jobs through pit closures, but in my opinion, even more terrible that they had to do such a dangerous job. To travel six miles underground to their workplace must have been awful, and not at all natural.

  5. Morning Ilona from House fairy

    Your book looks interesting! I like stories of times gone by.
    I looked on my kindle to see if it was on the FREE list or small change. It cost £4.49 to down load. Did not want to part with £'s.
    The library is good but then I do not want the hassle of watching the date and carting it back.

    Daughter took our blond dog for a walk yesterday. I said about the rain and mud. The dog did not care. Good job we have laminate floors down stairs!!!

    A bit cold for garage sorting. We have our conservatory to do. I can hear the cries before I even begin! "do not throw my stuff out!".
    The conservatory has become a dumping ground once again. Do not know where to store the stuff - in the conservatory it goes....

    I am begining to take head it the old saying, if it has not been used in a year get rid. Bless it to some one who will use it.
    Easier to say than do...

  6. I love Scruff!!
    Good luck with sorting your garage out.

  7. All the dogs look happy to be out and about, my cross breed Ben loves his long walk whatever the weather, but Bertie the elderly Bichon is very picky now, the sun has to shine "both sides of the hedgerow" for him. I have ceramic tiles all through downstairs, 5 minutes from mud to shine,I shuffle round on old towels to dry them off can not have any slips.

  8. Loved seeing the pics of your dog-walking friends with their lovely dogs. We like Scruff too, but they are all beautiful!
    Wendy (Wales)


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