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The Coal Man Cometh

About the end of times when
Carts were hauled by Shires,
Coal was king and homes
Were heated by open fires,
A seemingly huge dark figure
From my early childhood days
As he drove his horse and cart
Through the country byways
From village to village to village
Delivering sacks of coal
To feed our coal fires, then
Each home's heart and soul.

One hundredweight of coal
Measured into each heavy sack
Which they'd hoist off the cart
Onto a waiting broad back
To be carried to the coal shed
To be skilfully slipped
And with ease of movement
Very carefully tipped
Not a black lump wasted
As it piled on the coal heap
For money was tight
And coal wasn't cheap.

His horse patiently standing
By each house's kerb side
Waiting to be led on or
For him to climb up and ride.
Hours they must have spent
Huddled on that cart seat
Muffled up for winter's cold
Or soaking up summer's heat.
One day suddenly, progress,
The Shire retired out to grass
The second hand liveried lorry
Shelter behind steel and glass.

Still a hard dirty job but warmer
As the world moved slowly on
King Coal was coldly murdered
And the job was virtually gone.
Just a figure from history
From a simpler, slower age
Not even meriting a foot note
On a social history primer's page.
Is there a niche in time and space
Where a coal man and his horse,
Waggon piled with sacks, eternally
Trundles his once essential course.

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