Metal figures prominently in the lives of the working classes. The term, the common ‘five-eighters’, although sometimes defined as being the average suit size of a soldier in the second world war, and of the working week (8 hours a day, five days a week), it is also derived from the rivet size of the workers on the shipyards. Riveting was a big job; the Titanic was held together (for a short time at least) by over 3 million rivets. Nowadays, it is the welders who have taken over from these original five-eighters.
Metal has a long history, dating back to 6,000 BC with the use of gold fashioned into jewellery. Many of the main metals of today, copper, lead, iron and tin, date back to these pre-historic times. One of the more recent metals and the subject of Rachel McCarthy’s touching poem, Abandoned Airfield at Dunkeswell, about her father’s job fitting aircrafts, is Titanium; as strong as steel it is less dense, resistant to corrosion and perfect therefore for the construction of aeroplanes. Rachel takes us right into the huge workplace, (more…)