Film ID:
YFA 5851

TWO WEEKS CLEAR

1973

Visitor Tabs

Description

This documentary looks at Denby Grange Colliery which is closing for two weeks while its workers go on a club trip to Scarborough.  The documentary follows the workers while they are on their holidays including:  one group who have a boozy day out at Scarborough, a competition involving a local allotment society display at the Wakefield Show, Harold Blessard hustles the local darts players for pints in a pub in Bridlington, and face worker Ted Pickles who spends his two week holiday with his family in Mablethorpe with a Punch and Judy show and performs as a clown in the James Brothers Circus.

The film begins at Denby Grange colliery, where coal is being brought up to the surface and transported on wagons.  It is the end of the Friday shift before the two week holiday break.  They engage in banter as they are carried up on the lift, and then lark about in the shower.  They collect their wages and discuss the contents among themselves when they open their pay packets. 

The film switches to miner Jack Cowley, the Secretary of the Horbury and District Allotments and Gardens Association, as he approaches a fellow miner, Gerry, working in his allotment.  Together they bargain about what onions and carrots Gerry can supply for their display at the forthcoming Wakefield Show.  We then see a group of about twenty miners on a club outing to Scarborough.  They board the coach carrying about a dozen crates of beer, and drink and sing on the journey. 

Meanwhile face worker Ted Pickles makes his way with his family in their Reliant three wheeler to Mablethorpe, where he performs as a clown at the James Brothers circus and also puts on a Punch and Judy show during his two weeks holiday.  They pull into Seaholm Chalet and Caravan Park. In the James Brothers circus the Red Indian Knife Thrower is performing and so is the razor blade swallower.  On the beach where, “The sea breaks like iced dish water,” children are playing with spades and having rides on the donkeys.  As Ted Pickles chats with others at the circus he explains how he originally got involved, watching a circus as a lad, and seeing the effect of Punch and Judy on the faces of the watching children.    

At the Wakefield Show Jack Cowley is supervising the setting up of the display.  Talking about his work as a miner, he says that he did work with women at one time but found them too much trouble.  Instead, he prefers the camaraderie of the mine.  At Scarborough the coach arrives, and the men disembark on the seafront, clearly the worse for wear.  On the beach at Mablethorpe Ted Pickles is performing his Punch and Judy Show, with Dalek, in front of a crowd of children.  

On the beach at Scarborough the miners have a game of football, using the beer crates as goalposts.  Elsewhere, in a pub in Bridlington, face worker Harold Blessard, described as a “darts hustler”, wearing a pink flowery shirt, challenges a local to a game of darts for a pint of beer.  Harold wins, despite clearly having quite a bit to drink, and causes some jollity with his larger-than-life character.  He is taken aback when asked how different this is from work.  He answers rhetorically whether the interviewer has either been, or worked, down a mine.  He states that at least once a year a miner can have a carefree holiday, and asks, again rhetorically, “If a miner can’t get drunk, who can?”  
As we see the group of miners buying seafood from a stall at the front at Scarborough.  He goes on to talk about his job, while the miners have a spot of fun with the waves coming over the seafront.

The film switches back to Ted Pickles giving an account of how he performs as a clown in front of a small audience, explaining that he plays on the first person to laugh, and then the laughter spreads.  Harold Blessard wins a game of darts and along with it a pint of beer.  He engages the locals to some banter asking, “Do yer like supping?”  He explains that he only drinks in moderation, 8 pints at dinnertime and 12 at night.  He gets a round in before we switch back to the circus where circus dogs do an act with balloons, and there are also llamas.  Meanwhile the group of miners make their way back home on the coach, with crates of empty beer bottles.  On the journey back, the baby of the group, 18 year old Kelvin Fraser tells of getting ribbed as “Shirley Temple” because of his long curly hair, and that he had no intention of becoming a miner, thinking that they were “pig ignorant.”  The coach stops to allow them all to get off and urinate at the side of the road.  

Back at the circus, Ted Pickles, is both excited and nervous as he waits to make his entrance as a clown, and when he does heads towards some children in the front.

Title – End of Part One
Title – Part Two

Ted Pickles wakes up, takes a pill, lights a cigarette and is brought a cup of tea in bed by his wife.  Back at the Wakefield Show, Jack Cowley is discussing their display with fellow members.  Ted Pickles says that he didn’t want to go down the pit, but that his father and two uncles all worked there.  He had been in the air force, and was told by the colliery management that he was too used to a soft life, and that his bones were too soft to work underground.  

On hearing this, his father got him the job, and he was keen to prove that they were wrong.  But in fact he really struggled.  He says that after being off work for two weeks the knees really hurt went you get back to the coal face.  Sat in the kitchen at the table in his pyjamas, with his wife listening, he recounts an episode at work when he was nearly killed after the roof caved in.  He says now the fear has stayed with him.  When it is put to him that this king of accident is rare, he says that a chap who did his job one day when he was off work was killed in a similar incident.  
Back at the Wakefield Show Jack Cowley is still examining his display when time is called for members to leave.  Afterwards the members of the Association have fish and chips.  At the circus Ted Pickles is being given a clowning lesson form one of the more senior clowns. The judges walk around the Wakefield Show taking notes on the displays.  

Ted Pickles tells a story of one performance when a small boy wouldn’t laugh at anything, and that it isn’t always easy to get the crowd laughing, although the water act usually does the trick.  After their act Ted gets a bit of a telling of from one of the other clowns.  He then talks about the sadness of having to go back to work.  When asked why then does he go back to his job he stays that he wants to be a man, not a pansy, to be in line with the others in his family.  But now he wishes he had stopped and remained as a pansy.  He talks about the competition at the coal face.  When it is put to him that he is “playing at being a clown”, rather than going on the road full time, he replies that “everyone is clowning at something”.  He is not looking forward to go back, but then we see the lift descending down the shaft, miners shovelling coal at the face, and Harold Blessard adjusting a pit prop.

End credits:
Reporter – Simon Welfare
Lighting Camera – Mustafa Hammuni
Sound – Ron Gunn, David Pape, Terry Cavagin
Added Material – Alan Pyrah
Research – Julie O’Hare, Tom Collins
Film Editor – Graham Shrimpton
Producer/Director – Barry Cockcroft 
Executive Producer – John Fairley
Yorkshire Television