Hezy Woodes and the Three Slagge Hilles
By Jack Johnston at Dec 21, 2012
Hezy woods is not an old old woods, like the dark plantation is. The dark plantation is an old old woods. Older than me. Older even than your dad. But that’s a story for another time. This is the story of hezy woods.
I remember when I was your age I came for my first midwinter fire here. But back then there was nee woods. Nowt but a desert of slag! We had to scrape through the slag to find twigs and bits of coal to make a fire. Back then this was a mine and all about here were mines and railways and factories. It was a happy time. All the coal in the world was mined here in Newcastle and everyone’s house was toasty warm. And more than that! Much more. We built ships! Loads of ships. And railways and cars and engines and buckets.
We didn’t have plastic when we were your age you know. What do you think buckets were made of? Iron. And toys? Iron. Everything was made of iron back then. Iron and coal. And steel. You know how you make steel? When you mix coal and iron you get steel, but you get slag as well and no one wants slag so they pile it up in geet big hills.
That was back when the miners still ran their mines. But back when I was still your age the Torys got themselves a new queen. You know what Torys are don’t you? You’ve probably never seen a Tory! We don’t have many up here, not these days. If you ever see someone sitting in a corner with a little pointy hat that’s a Tory. They don’t talk, they just sit there looking sad. There’s loads of them down in the deep south. Down south there’s so many Torys there’s not even enough corners for them all to sit in so they let themselves sit around like normal people. Except with little pointy hats.
Anyways, back when I was young like yous the Torys got themselves a new queen. Queen Magy she was called. She was the first queen in the whole history of the Torys because usually men are the only ones evil enough to rule the Torys. But Queen Magy was the evilest Tory in many many years and so she became the first Tory Queen.
Queen Magy and the Torys were jealous you see. Jealous of all the mines and factories. Of all the ships and the coal that we had. Of all the trains and the trams and the engines and the toys and the buckets. ‘Cuase all they had was chewing gum. So evil Queen Magy sent the Torys and the Polis to take the pole tax.
You know what the pole tax was? That was evil Queen Magy’s plan. She gave the Torys and the Polis long bendy poles made of chewing gum and she sent them to beat the Geordies and the Scots and the other peoples of the North until they paid lots of tax.
But the miners weren’t scared of the Torys or the Polis. They said they would never pay Queen Magys evil tax. So the war of the three hats began. Because miners had their hard miners hats, and the Torys had their little pointed hats and the Polis had their rounded hats with the nipple on the top. And all us bairns had to flee to the hills with wor grannies and mams whilst wor dads all fought the against the pole tax with the ship builders and the bucket pullers and the mine miners.
And for a while it all went well for the miners because they were strong and brave and had better hats and buckets. But every time they beat the Torys and the Polis back evil Queen Magy just sent more and more chewing gum until in the end the miners grew tired of fighting. Because for many years they didn’t see their bairns or their women. Because we were all hiding in the hills where it was safe.
So in the end the miners laid down their picks and their shovels so that the war could end and their families could return home. But this mine was closed. All the mines were closed. And so were all the factories. And all the trams and most of the trains were ripped up and turned into little pointed hats. And, worst of all, all the toys and all the buckets had to be made out of chewing gum. But they never paid the pole tax and they vowed that no bairn of theirs ever would.
And so, wor fathers, the miners and the pullers and the builders, levelled the great slag mountain and digged three great hills of slag to remember the war of the three hats and the promise never to be taxed by poles. And Hezy Woods grew on those three hills. And now we can burn logs instead of slag coal. And now we can eat chewing gum roasted on the open fire.