20.3.36

Talking with Firth (see notes on his house.[1]) He gets 32/- a week from the U.A.B. [2] Mrs F. is a Derbyshire woman. Two kids, ages 2 years 5 months and 10 months. They are fairly sturdy as yet and it is evidently the case that these kids do much better in infancy than later, as for about their first three year they get help from the Infants’ Welfare Clinic. Mrs F. gets three packets of baby’s food (dried milk) a week and also a little Nestle’s milk. On one occasion she got an allowance of 2/- a week for a month to buy eggs for the elder child. While there we sent out for some beer. I noted both the F.s let the children drink a little beer out of their glasses. Another kid was in and out of the house mothering the F. baby. Her father was murdered four years ago. The widowed mother gets an allowance of 22/- a week, I do not know from what source, on which she has to keep herself and 4 children.

I did not know before, what F. told me, that when the mines have baths at the pithead these are built not by the company but by the miners themselves, out of the Welfare Fund to which every miner subscribes. This is the case at any rate round here – must try and find out if it is so everywhere. It is by the way another argument against the statement that miners do not want or appreciate baths. One reason why not all the pits have baths is that when a pit is anywhere near being worked out it is not considered worth while to build baths.

I forgot to mention that in the day-hole at Wentworth the pit props, owing to the damp, had a strange fungi exactly like cotton wool growing on them. If you touched them they went all to nothing, leaving a nasty smell. It appears that a Lancashire miner, instead of slinging his lamp round his neck, has a band above the elbow and hangs the lamp from that.

Today G. earned little or nothing. The coal-cutter had broken down so there was no coal for him to fill into the tubs. When this happens those on piece-work get no compensation, except a shilling or two for odd jobs called bye-work.

I see the Manchester Guardian has not printed my letter re. Mosley and I suppose they never will. I hardly expected the Times to print it, but I think the M.G. might, considering their reputation.

[1] 12 Albert Street East.

[2] U.A.B.: Unemployment Assistance Board. For details see Road to Wigan Pier, pp. 85-6.

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