Secret Meetings

Arthur Marwick

  • Battered Cherub by Joe Gormley
    Hamish Hamilton, 216 pp, £7.95, April 1982, ISBN 0 241 10754 7

If you saw pictures of female miners carting coal around, or loading trucks, would you exclaim ‘How appallingly Victorian!’ or ‘How fantastically modern!’? It was not till some years after the Second World War that ‘pitbrew girls’ ceased to do the heavy and dirty work of separating out dross from coal; many of them became canteen workers instead. Joe Gormley was, and is, firmly against the idea of any ‘modern young ladies’ trying to secure coal-face jobs. He was outraged by the women carrying coal in baskets on their heads whom he encountered on his visit to India in 1975.

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