If you work & do your best, you’ll get the sack like all the rest, but if you laze & bugger about you’ll live to see the job right out
Opening Salvo Ode to the Worker !
I must admit that I enjoyed my time at Ribble buses, but when the cold snap came in November 1991 my back started to give me problems again. I had to give up work, went in one morning and had to go home at 9.00 am, the pain in my legs was too bad to continue, I could hardly walk. I was still bad a month later and went in to resign, they asked me to reconsider and said they would hold the job open for me for as long as it took, but I didn’t consider that fair on the company and I would probably failed the impending medical anyway.
Over the winter I lost five stones in weight and got a start driving at Jackson’s ( the place I originally started ) nursing the older vehicles in the fleet on a fixed rate per week ( the other drivers were on a bonus system ) so I didn’t lose money if I broke down. Things were going OK, but the HSE Nazi’s at Tilcon introduced sheeting regulations at all their quarries.
sheeting up is a pretty dangerous thing to do, at least for the driver and especially in high winds. We always sheeted dust anyway but now everything had to be sheeted, no exceptions in high winds ( you could stop dust blowing off by using the hosepipe to ” deg it down ” and form a crust ), it was murder sheeting in snow. It was not a very safe thing at all, if it was raining you were wet all day with the cab windows steamed up, plus it put an average extra 40 minutes on your day for no extra pay.
The Work is hard the pay is small so take your time & sod em all. cause when you’re DEAD you’ll be Forgot, so don’t try to do the Bloody Lot.
Tilcon had sold its transport to Fewston so it wasn’t their problem any more, the older more experienced divers were leaving, no prospect of a pay rise with fuel duty rising rapidly and the old hands were replaced by idiots who had just passed their HGV test. These circumstances directly led to the Sowerby Bridge disaster, where several people lost their lives, a Fewston eight-wheeler driven by an ex-police officer ran out of control down the steep hill there.
Its a long way down from the summit of the A629 through Denholm, and even being careful with a five axle artic your brakes are beginning to fade by the time you get down North Bridge at Halifax, Sowerby Bridge is down again. I suspect he missed a gear trying to change down, then pumped the brakes, the last thing you should do with air brakes as every press you lose effort, then put the parking brake on in desperation ( not as powerful as the foot brake ) which instantly wore out the linings on the two park break axles.
I wrote more extensively about it the Will Murray at Huddersfield university, and suspect that’s why the foreman fitter was never prosecuted even though the were going to charge him with manslaughter. I knew him and he was a great bloke and would do anything to help people, the stress of impending prison wrecked his health and I believe that he got MS or something similar in the meantime. Its hardly surprising that the accident happened to an ex-police driver, I recently went on an advanced driver training course, ( the way the police are taught to drive ) it relied too heavily on the brakes to be safe for HGV practice.
I just about made it through the 1992-93 winter, but now you had to sheet up everywhere, a 30 foot tipper sheet weighs over 50 Kg and it takes a lot of physical effort to put it on in a five foot six high box with only a small pile in the bottom, it wasn’t to bad with a full box of grain or coal.
Fine mesh nets were allowed which was easier but you still got pissed wet through all day and the increasing constant pain was beginning to affect my driving ability, especially on the rough twisting road up to Settle we were using more frequently. Even though by now I had one of the best wagons in the yard as far as power goes I decided to throw the towel in, leaving in spring 1993 despite the fact that I couldn’t get unemployment benefit or income support due to my ample savings.
I went back driving a 7.5 tonne Ford Cargo delivering slates part time, but was soon coaxed back onto the artics, I lasted until my birthday in September when I went out in a tractor unit with no heater when it was a sharp frost that morning. It was a load of dust to Tilcon Preston and I struggled to take the sheet off the pain was so bad, I went straight back to the yard and wrote on the defect sheet, that was the last time I worked. On the defect reporting section of my daily ” loads report ” Driver Fucked !
The 1929 LMS Fowler 7F 0-8-0 Austin Seven class built to replace various LNWR and L&Y 0-8-0s had long travel valve gear went like ” Split Shit ” yet were doomed on conception due to Fowler’s insistence that they used the 1911 4F axle-boxes, ( likewise the Somerset & Dorset 2-8-0s and LMS Garratts, which were additionally handicapped by short travel valve gear ) the S&D 7F being the last to go to the scrapyard when the line closed ) !
I had already paid to see a back specialist and went for an MRI scan which revealed that one of the vertebrae in my lower spine was undersize, causing insufficient clearance on my spinal chord, I also had a ruptured disc which was pressing on my sciatic nerve.
I went in for the operation in February 1994, the first time it was cancelled due to ” lack of anesthetic time ” but I went back on Tuesday the following week and was out of bed standing on it by Friday. I was told not to sit down and made good progress until I was sent home after 10 days in My father’s car, the morning after at home my right leg was numb, the local GP came out to see me and shook his head.
I was determined to get mobile again as I had young pigeons in the nest to sort out and was out looking in the cote about a week later, still not sitting down, I went to see the surgeon after a month, the pain had gone from my legs but it was getting warmer. I felt fit enough to build a new young bird loft that summer, its easy to ignore the pain when you are focused on a project and my then girlfriend was a good help, got the young birds really tame and did well with them racing. The winter came and there were days when I could hardly walk again, I had to learn to pace myself with lots of lying down in between to recover from the effort. There was no way that I could go back into full time work of any kind but I became secretary of the local racing pigeon club, did well with the birds in the 1995 season, likewise 1996 when I won the local Fed at Rennes, was almost always on the ” fed sheet ” top 20.
By now I was claiming Incapacity Benefit and was called in for a medical spring 1996, the examiner was a fat little Pakistani who spoke pigeon English and asked all sorts of stupid questions like how big the room was, never actually asked what was actually wrong with me, how much pain etc., never gave me a chance to say anything. I was thrown off but in less than a month I was off my legs again and went to see the GP, then took my note struggling to walk ( drove there no problem ) to the office at Accrington, they agreed that it was an existing condition and put me back on with back pay.
I went for another medical in August and this time I let rip at the again Asian examiner, he told me to calm down but I was finding that the best way to reduce the pain was to get angry and get the adrenaline flowing. It was this experience which finally blew the ” Corporate Illusion ” that life is fair and that authority always try to do the best for you, I started to get really interested in politics for the first time.
Or on your tombstone neatly laquered, these three words Just Bleeding Knackered !
So far I have managed to avoid the Corporate-Nazi Wall Street NYSE Goldman Sachs ( head office ) Corporate Multinational Cartel Grim Reaper, and on reflection its Now Clear that all Global Stock Market listed Merchant Banks and other Financial Institutions are Beyond Reasonable Doubt responsible for War Crimes under the Geneva Convention. Likewise ” Big Pharma ” The British Medical Association and Quango’s like Public Health England, not to mention Cancer Research & The British Heart Foundation etc.