Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

Is ‘Work’ natural? Something we are born to do? If you agree that we are part of the animal kingdom all you need do is look around you to see that work is natural. Bill has been a beekeeper for most of his adult life. Each of his hives contain anything up to fifty-thousand bees and they all work. We probably just see the foragers, the bees that go out from the hive to gather nectar and pollen from the
Honey bee
flowers but inside the beehive are housekeepers, cleaners, nursemaids for the new bees, guards and even bees to stand at the entrance to flap their wings to keep the hive at a stable temperature.

The sheep we see in the fields spend most of their life working. This work consists of eating grass from morning to night in order to survive. Our early ancestors, the hunter gatherers, would have had to work to hunt and gather food for the family or tribe.

We then became farmers and worked at caring for our animals and cultivating crops. The industrial revolution saw major changes and we worked for someone else and received payment in order to live.

In my younger days, work was the norm. From farmers in the field, weavers, coalminers, steel workers, builders, train drivers, clerks, school teachers - work for the vast majority of us was integral part of life. It seems to me that attitudes in those days were different - difficult to define but work wasn’t the bit between weekends and holidays, rather that weekends and holidays were a break from work.

It’s dangerous to generalise but men and women were glad to have paid work and often quite proud of what they did. I seem to remember my sister boasting of tending to twelve cotton weaving looms at the age of about nineteen.
Mill Engine

The mill could house as many as 1,000 looms which were driven by huge steam engines, these were lovingly cared for by the ‘Engine Tenter’ who polished every brass and steel nut and bolt.

In the twenties and thirties it was the dream of most small boys to drive a railway engine. The driver and fireman spent their days in a dusty, smokey open cab but often spent time when their shift had finished in cleaning ‘their’ train.

We look back in horror at the working conditions of our fathers and grandfathers but are we sure
they were horrified? Perhaps modern day conditions are just as bad but different.

I don’t know how or when things changed but by heck they certainly did.

Work environment

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