Darwent, south of Swanston, had a railway station, a mill and a treacle mine. There was a great deal of folklore around the treacle mine, as the histories of Darwent in the libraries show. With only mill and the railway station in Darwent, there wasn’t much other history.
The miners could not use pickaxes, because they stuck in the treacle. Instead they used pitchforks, which they twisted round and round to get a nice blob of treacle. Then they had to get the treacle off the pitchfork, by wiping it on their wives’ hair.
The mine shafts had to run horizontally into the hills. If they sloped downwards, the treacle would flow down the shaft and block it. The pit owners, an ungenerous, grasping lot, wanted to slope the shafts upwards so the treacle would flow out without the need for miners, but the miners managed to thwart this by-
All this is too much for Richard, who changes the subject.
We cannot start our business meeting yet, so I chat to the Christian Spiritualist who has rented the downstairs room. He is about sixty, with an old dark suit, a knitted pullover with a shallow v neck showing the knot of a tie. He is a little worried, perhaps, I will go all sceptical on him, but that is not interesting. What does it feel like, for him?
They are Christian spiritualists. They have been meeting here many years, with ordinary hymns. He is Anglican. They have a homily, then a message from Spirit- just like you. (I think it may be the same thing.) They have strange questions. One man wanted to speak to King Henry VIII- well, the spirits come if they wish, not at our choice, and an absolute King might not want to obey the summons of a commoner. Sometimes they get American Indians, who had a strong spiritual tradition. Delicately, I allude to pretence at mediumship. No, not with them, they are Christian Spiritualists- I infer that the National Spiritualists might be untrustworthy. They do healing by laying on of hands.
We don’t mind them, as long as they clean up the ectoplasm behind them, says Richard archly. Gosh, Richard, a joke?
If there is no perfection, it behoves me to seek good wherever I may find it. No, I do not believe they talk to the dead, but I do believe they might have insight or intuition, which manifests itself in this way. I might try their meeting.
Well. How do you think the miners might have foiled the ghastly plot to dig shafts upwards, and put them out of a job?