Fife's a place on its ane. It's no 'The Hielands', an it's no whit ye caw 'The Central Belt', though there's mony a bairn wishes that they'd never heard o th belts fae Lochgelly! An yet, in wan wey, it's like awplace else. There's the Fife that ye'll fund in the glossy brochures, the wan that th Tourist Boards try tae sell. An there's the ither Fife, the wan ah grew up in. Fife is unique. It is not part of 'The Highlands', and you could not say that it was in 'The Central Belt', although many children wish that they have never heard of the belts from Lochgelly. Yet, in one way, it resembles everywhere else. There's the Fife that is promoted in the glossy brochures from the Tourist Boards, and then, there is the other Fife, where I grew up.
No fur me are the 'golden saund', the 'green hills' an the 'white-washed hooses'. Fur me, it'll always be auld railway lines, the faun doon auld hooses, an the pit bings - the 'Grey Hills o Fife'. Not for me, the 'golden sand', the 'green hills' and the 'white-washed houses'. For me, it will always be the old railway lines, the crumbling old houses, and the colliery waste tips - 'The Grey Hills o' Fife'

Come the Seturday, we wis free tae dae whit we wanted. Nae skale! Mum awa doon tae the Co-op at Crossroads or doon lower Methil fur wan o Gordon Allen's steak pies an buyin workin-claes at the Wonder Store. Dad w'd be awa tae his work at the Michael. When Saturday came, We were free to do as we pleased. No school! Mother was away to the Co-op at Crossroads, down Lower Methil for one of Gordon Allen's steak pies, or buying working-clothes at the Wonder Store. Dad was away to work at the Michael Colliery.
So it wis time tae get yer pals th gether tae decide whaur tae go. Could be onnyplace.
Mebbe the Kirklands, or 'The Black Dub'. Methilhill, wi the Pirnie bing an the swing-park. An, of coorse, there wis ayewis the cowp! If there wiz wan thing Methil wisnae short o, it wiz bings an cowps.
Time to join your friends, and decide where to go. Could be almost anywhere.
Perhaps the Kirklands, 'The Black Dub', or Methilhill, with the Pirnie waste tip and the swing-park. Then again, there was always the Council rubbish dump. Methil was never short of waste tips and rubbish dumps.

Usually it wis jist as the mood took us. Tak a typical day ...We did things, whatever way that the mood took us. Take a typical day ...

Wance th'gang got th'gether, we headed aff tae 'The Black Dub'. Swarmin ower the dyke at the bottom o the gairden, it wis cross the main road an doon the Fire Station Brae. Quick glance at Lightbody's bakery as we turned doon Morar Street.
(Micht jist gie it a run through, the nicht. Pit oot guid stuff, did Lightbodys!)
Once the gang was assembled, we headed off to 'The Black Dub'. After clambering over the brick wall at the bottom of the garden, we would cross the main road, then proceed down the Fire Station Hill. We glanced briefly at Lightbody's bakery, as we turned into Morar Street.
(We considered a night visit to the bakery. Lightbody's disposed of their old stock, outside.)

Comin oot at Byron Street park, ye could see across the gress tae the auld railway embankment. It's aw gone noo, an they cry it 'Savoy Park', but then, it wis jist a bit o gress whaur the bairns fae the skales played fitba. Primary skales in thae days h'd playgrunds, no playin fields. Ye cannae scart the segs on yer shin, an mak sparks on gress!When we came out at Byron Street park, we could see across the grass, to the old railway embankment. It is all gone now, and they now call it 'Savoy Park', but then, it was just a stretch of grass, where schoolchildren played football. In those days, primary schools had playgrounds - not playing fields. When on grass, you cannot strike sparks from hobnailed shoes!
They'd ta'en up the rails long since, an aw that wiz left wiz the cinder track-bed on the embankment. On the ither side wiz 'The Black Dub'! Whit yaised tae be the 'Leven Number 4' pit, whit awboddy cryed the 'Klondyke', wis lang gone. But the concrete foonds wiz still there, an the grund roond aboot wiz flooded, an yaised as a tip. Auld beds an bits o wid. Spring matresses an bits o prams. Doors an couches. Scattered aw aroond.The rails had been removed, long ago, and only the cinder track-bed, on the embankment, remained. 'The Black Dub' was on the other side. What used to be the 'Leven Number 4' colliery - everybody called it the 'Klondyke' - was long gone. The concrete foundations remained, and the surrounding ground was flooded. People used it as a tip: old beds and bits of wood, spring matresses and bits of prams, doors and sofas. Scattered everywhere.

It wis a magic playgrund. We built ricket bridges across the 'Dub', wi planks laid fae couch tae tea-chest tae bits o corrugated tin. There wiz bits whaur ye h'd tae jump on tae a soggy auld tyke, wi the springs pokin oot, an aff again, quick, afore it sank alow the surface o the 'The Black Dub'.It made a magic playground. We built ricketty bridges across the 'Dub', with planks laid from sofa to tea-chest to sheets of corrugated iron. On some parts, you had to jump on to a soggy old matress - with the springs sticking out - then quicky off again, before it sank below the level of the foul, black water.
We dug trenches on the embankment an roofed them wi boxes an bits o watchcloth. We focht, and refocht, evry battle o the last twa hunnert years. 'D-Day'. 'El Alamein'. 'Little Big Horn'. 'The Somme'. 'Rorkes Drift'. We must hae defended the best o Western Civilisation a thousand times, an died a thousand times, tryin tae tear it doon. We werenae 'politically correct', an mony o the words we yaised, w'dnae be richt these days, but the strange thing is - nane o us grew up hatin onnybody else in the world cause o it. We kent it wiz a game.We dug trenches on the embankment, roofing them with boxes and strips of linoleum. We fought, and re-fought, every battle from the past two hundred years: 'D-Day', 'El Alamein', 'Little Big Horn', 'The Somme', Rorkes Drift'. We must have defended the best of Western Civilisation, a thousand times, and died a thousand times, trying to tear it down. We were not 'politically correct' - many of the terms that we used are unacceptable today - but the fact is ... none of us grew up, hating anyone else in the world, because of it. We knew it was a game.
We climbed aw o'er the concrete foonds, an tried tae jump across fae wan tae t'other. Skint knees, battered faces, bleedin noses. Dares an challenges.
If the 'Mooth o Hell' wiz there, we'd hae jumped it!
We climbed all over the the concrete foundations. Tried to jump across, from one to the next. Grazed knees, battered faces, bleeding noses. Dares and challenges.
If the 'Mouth of Hell' had been there ... we would have jumped across!

Whit usually stopped us wiz boredom.
"Ah'm fed up bein a German!"
"Well ah wiz the Japanese last week, so it has tae be your turn!"
"No it disnae! Ah wanted tae play 'Cowboys an Indians'."
Devastatin scorn!
"Dinnae be daft. Indians dae fecht in trenches!"
"Why diz it h've tae be in the trenches?"
"Cause ah brung ma moothorgan tae play."
"Let's go tae the cowp!"
That decided it.
What usually stopped us, was boredom.
"I am fed up with being a German!"
"Well, I was the Japanese, last week, so it has to be your turn!"
"No it does not! I wanted to play 'Cowboys an Indians'."
Devastating scorn!
"Don't be stupid. Indians do not fight in trenches!"
"Why does it have to be in the trenches?"
"Because I brought my mouth-organ to play."
"Let's go to the Council rubbish dump!"
That decided it.

We aw tramped along the auld railway tae the Sea Road. Only, there wisnae onny road an it wisnae near the sea. But it wiz whaur the cooncil dumped aw th rubbish, an ye could get some guid stuff there. Look at Methil th day, an look at Methil on an auld map, an ye'll see that it must be the 'Landfill Capital o Scotland'. Between the pits, the Cooncil an the Steelworks, whit ye see o Methil noo, is what wiz dumped an covered up.We wandered along the old railway track, to the Sea Road. Only, there wasn't any road, and it wasn't near to the sea. But it was where the Council dumped all the household rubbish, and you could find some good stuff there. Look at Methil today, then look at Methil on an old map, and you'll see that it must be the 'Landfill Capital of Scotland'. Between the collieries, the Council and the Steelworks, what you see of Methil now, is thinly-covered landfill.
There's a Sea Road noo, an ye can see flat fields on either side, but we saw the den that gi'ed Denbeath its name, an a pit bing next tae the Brickworks. Ah discovered only a few weeks ago, that the Brickworks bing was there cause they thocht that dumpin the redd fae the pits on tae the shore wiz pollutin the beaches. So they dumped it in Denbeath instead. That lasted aboot a year, then they got back tae dumpin it on the shore again.There is a Sea Road now, with flat fields on either side, but we saw the den that gave Denbeath its name, and a colliery waste tip next to the Brickworks. I discovered, only a few weeks ago, that the Brickworks waste tip existed because they thought that dumping the waste from the collieries, on to the seashore, was polluting the beaches. So they dumped it in Denbeath instead. That lasted about a year, then they got back tae dumping it on the shore again.

Of coorse, we didnae ken this. We jist kent that a bing wiz a great place tae play. Ye jist hunted aroond till ye fund a bit o enamelled tin. Ye ken the sort o thing ah mean. Thae advertisin signs fae the shops. 'Cadbury's Chocolate' an 'Woodbine' fags. Ah believe they're 'collectors items' these days.Of course, we didn't know this. We just knew that a waste tip was a great place toe play. You simply hunted aroond until you found a sheet of enamelled tin. You know the sort of thing that I mean. Those advertising signs from the shops. 'Cadbury's Chocolate' and 'Woodbine' cigarettes. I do believe that they are 'collectors items', these days.

Well, we made them a lot mair valuable, cause we made them a lot rarer!
Ye took the tin sign an ye battered it wi a big stane till wan end wiz curled up like a sledge. Then ye dragged it tae the tap o the bing, jumped on it, an tobogganned doon tae the bottom. Bit like slidin doon an avalanche, wi only a giant razor blade fur protection.
We loved it!
Well, we made them much more valuable, because we made them much rarer!
You took the tin sign, and you hammered it with a big stone, until one end was curled over like a sledge. Then you dragged it to the top of the waste tip, jumped aboard, and tobogganned down to the bottom. A bit like sliding down an avalanche, with only a giant razor blade for protection.
We loved it!

There wiz bings awplace. Buckhind, Muiredge, Methilhill, Denbeath, Lower Methil. There wiz wan in Lower Methil that wiz the territorial boundary atween Methil Primary Skale an Aberhill Skale. Mony a 'turf war' (or should it be a 'redd war') wiz focht on that bing. It yaised tae cairy the railway fae the Leven pits (in Methil!) tae the docks. There wiz a bridge fae the bing, across the road fae the High Street, tae Innerleven. It's aw gone, noo, but if ye fancy a drink in Lower Methil, ye can try the 'Brig Tavern'. Jist dinnae look aroond fur the bridge, cause it only exists in the memories o the auld folk o Methil. There were waste tips everywhere. Buckhaven, Muiredge, Methilhill, Denbeath, Lower Methil. There was one in Lower Methil, that was the territorial boundary between Methil Primary School and Aberhill School. Many a 'turf war' (or should that be a 'redd war') was fought on that waste tip. It used to carry the railway from the Leven pits (in Methil!) to the docks. There was a bridge from that waste tip, across the road from the High Street, to Innerleven. It's all gone, now, but if you fancy a drink in Lower Methil, you can try the 'Brig Tavern'. Don't bother looking for the bridge - it only exists in the memories of the elderly folk of Methil.
Same wi the bings. Ye'll no fund onny reference in the guide books tae the 'Grey Hills o Fife'. Maist o them are gone.
But tae us, they were the grund we stood upon, an the land that we focht fur.
It is the same with waste tips. You will not find any reference, in the guide books, to the 'Grey Hills o Fife'. Most of them are gone.
But to us, they were the ground that we stood upon, and the land that we fought for.

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Original material © Dave Sloan 2005, 2016
'tachras' and 'Winding Yarn' © Dave Sloan 2005, 2016

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