Gary Miller performing 'Unlocked Gatel' at Whippet Records HQ, Ferryhill, Co. Durham on Sunday 7th April 2019. 'Unlocked Gate' is one of several songs written by Gary in honour of Joseph Skipsey, "The Pitman Poet of Percy Main". The song is accompanied by a fabulous illustration by Gary's partner Helen Temperley - look closely and you should be able to see it on the right-hand side of the video frame. Together, they form part of one of their latest collaborative projects 'Northern Grit: The Good, The Bad and The Greedy', a travelling exhibition, recording and performance project. 
UNLOCKED GATE 
The trapper-lad from Percy Main 
With an inward eye and an outward flame 
And a restless soul no books could tame 
Rose up from the ground 
And he burst forth like an outcast flower 
Seizing on his lucky hour 
His poetry poured like an endless shower 
All nature to expound 
Straight from the heart, to the heart 
His words more keen than a piercing dart 
Of weeping mothers torn apart 
Like he was one-way bound 
And as the big pit-wheel kept turning 
Through his years of toil and learning 
He found that he was earning 
Freedom from his fate 
But by the coal-fires burning 
He found his stomach churning 
For in his mind he kept returning 
Back through life’s unlocked gate 
In the dusty books upon the shelves 
At the Lit and Phil where a deep mind delves 
Into the corners of ourselves 
Where no voice can be heard 
He buried his head and he set his mask 
And struggled to rise up to the task 
To advise the borrowers who came to ask 
Upon the written word 
He returned to the mines until another chance came 
But a porter’s work was not the same 
So another bridge burned but who could blame 
This flightless, restless bird 
As the wheels of life kept turning 
Through the chances he kept spurning 
His heart was ever-yearning 
To be back where he might belong 
For he’d grown more discerning 
On all matters concerning 
What keeps the pages turning 
Through the circle of life’s song 
“I have gazed upon the wonders of mountains and lakes 
Marvelled at the design of stars and snowflakes 
Delighted in wandering by farms and by streams 
Scrambled up hills where sunlight streams 
I’ve pondered the mysteries of a life beyond 
To many questions I felt the need to respond 
I’ve been vocal in social circles but then 
Retreated to solitude with my books and my pen” 
Onwards now to Shakespeare’s abode 
But this humble man bore a heavy load 
All the patronage and the favours owed 
For a life that did not suit 
A poet’s paradise for sure 
But for the bores he had to endure 
Even the garden held no allure 
For one who could not take root 
He listened to his inner harp 
His gifted mind was shrewd and sharp 
His instinct led past cliff and scarp 
Not for him the easy route 
The carriage wheels kept turning 
Towards the home fires burning 
And for all his years of learning 
He found he had no fear 
For the chances he was spurning 
Nor the bridges he was burning 
The circle had ceased turning 
And he was finally happy here 
(Gary Miller) © 2019 Whippet Records Copyright Control MCPS/PRS
Gary Miller performing 'A Dream of Joseph Skipsey' at Whippet Records HQ, Ferryhill, Co. Durham on Sunday 7th April 2019. 'A Dream of Joseph Skipsey' is written in honour of Joseph Skipsey, "The Pitman Poet of Percy Main". The song is accompanied by a fabulous illustration by Gary's partner Helen Temperley - look closely and you should be able to see it on the right-hand side of the video frame. Together, they form part of one of their latest collaborative projects 'Northern Grit: The Good, The Bad and The Greedy', a travelling exhibition, recording and performance project. 
A DREAM OF JOSEPH SKIPSEY 
A thick mist cleared and a dream took flight, 
A viking ship sailed into the night; 
Waterfalls roared down hills of pine, 
As I held the prow in the starlight’s shine. 
With Joseph Skipsey by my side, 
I felt his awe as his eyes grew wide. 
And when he turned his face with magnetic force 
I recognised a true child of the north. 
In a voice reared in the Northumbrian twang, 
He opened his heart through the songs he sang. 
I listened well as his stories rang, 
To the sound of toil ’neath the pit wheel’s clang. 
His simple songs spoke straight and true, 
Of the collier lad and the strife he knew; 
Of love and loss and laughter too, 
With great pathos to see him through. 
As he watched the wee birds flying by, 
I saw a tear escape his eye; 
This sensitive soul with poetical mind, 
In a solid body of the labouring kind. 
Then he spoke of happy childhood days, 
When he was wrapped in nature’s ways: 
From this Rustic Bard lilting words did flow, 
Of the robin, the finch and the mighty crow. 
His simple songs from nature grew, 
To praise the glory and wondrous hue 
Of the Thistle and the Nettle, many flowers too; 
Butterflies, moths and the morning dew. 
With his thirst for knowledge driving him on, 
Likewise his fondness for music and song, 
He would labour long hours in his room, 
Just as he’d done in the darkling gloom. 
The world was a mirror through which he gazed 
With a seer’s skill into clearer days, 
And when I awoke in the daylight’s glare, 
I still felt his spirit standing there. 
His simple songs spoke to me 
And told me of a destiny, 
Rich in hope and running free 
Down untrod paths we rarely see. 
(Gary Miller) © 2019 Whippet Records Copyright Control MCPS/PRS
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