Where Grandad Lost His Leg

low winter sun

So we were walking up The Line. It’s the name we’ve always used for the waggonway, the steep incline that used to haul coal skips from the Rainton pits to the docks. And she said:

“this is where my Grandad lost his leg. And his arm.”

Someone’s phone was ringing and it was urgent so we stopped, breathing hard in the thin frosty air, and as we stood in the blinding low sunlight, considered whether the tale of Grandad’s horrible injury needed a phonecall-free space to be properly told.

“He was wheeling his bike up from The Blast all laden with coal, and the wires, the heavy cables of the waggon pulleys twanged and caught him down one side, slicing off one arm and one leg like a cheese wire. It’s not clear quite how this happened because he’d made this trip up from the shore many, many times and knew it in the dark. It took him the whole afternoon and evening to crawl up to the Dawdon Hotel, shouting all the way. Nobody on Cottages Row heard him until he was just outside the hotel bar.”

He was in hospital for months, but he did survive.

Some events remain embedded in the place as memories, but maybe also of imprints, of blood soaked grass, of living dna smeared all along the path. He’s still here somewhere.

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