The comforts of snow were not lost on those who worked in the pits. Darkness, permeated only by the will-o’-the-wisp headlights of our workmates, filled our heads and hearts; several thousand tonnes of rock overhead would do that to you. In between breaths choked with shattered shale and coal dust, we would dig and pray, dig and pray, then pray some more.
The bell to signifying the changing shifts brought little in the way of relief; tiredness had broken us, we were nothing but jet-black ghosts. Seasons meant little down below, deep in the depths, but not so above.
When the lift breached the shaft entrance and flooded us with blinding white light, I for one thought we might have got off in heaven. I was wrong. I was always wrong, and glad to be. White blankets of peace and frigid air purged more than just ragged breaths, they purged our souls. Such was a miner’s lot in the Yorkshire coal fields, and the reason we valued our Christmases so greatly.