Joining with Susannah Conway's August Break, where bloggers post a photograph every day in August, following a list of prompts from Susannah. (You can also find the project on Instagram using hashtag #augustbreak15)
Today's prompt is 'talisman'
Despite my highland heritage, I am not particularly superstitious. I don't know if I believe in talismans, however I do like to keep certain small treasures always near me.
My keyring. On it I have a purple heart, given to me some years ago by my dear brother. Also on there is a little tag which was the first thing Isaac made in metal work at school. It has his initials engraved on it in wobbly capitals, and I absolutely love it.
In addition to these treasures/talismans, I have a brass number tag, from a miners lamp, given to me one day a few years ago.
These number tags were a vitally important feature of life in the mines: when a miner collected his lamp to go down underground, he left his number tag in its place. When he came back above ground at the end of his shift, he replaced the lamp and retrieved his tag. One can easily picture the significance of these humble brass number tags if something went wrong underground. A check of the number tags, and it would quickly be known exactly who was on duty, and in danger.
I was given this brass number tag on our first visit to Wales, three years ago. We visited 'Big Pit' museum in Blaenavon, South Wales, which was a working coal mine from 1860-1980. It was of particular interest to me as my Dad was a Bevan Boy during the war. To see the working environment first hand, and imagine the camaraderie and team work of the miners, not to mention the sheer bravery involved in working in such hazardous and cramped conditions, was extremely moving.
I started talking to one of the guides, a barrel chested giant of a man, who was an ex-miner. Talking about Dad's experiences in the mines during the war, to someone who had been a miner, and knew exactly what was involved, was quite an emotional experience. I wished Dad could have been there to talk to him too. At the conclusion of our conversation, the guide took his keyring out of his pocket, and removed the brass number tag from it. He explained its purpose, and gave it to me with the words 'There you are, you can have this. Think of me and your Dad when you look at it'. I was moved to tears. I immediately put it on my own keyring, and there it has stayed, and will stay, for ever.