The town had a life of its own, a regular heartbeat that pulsed through the earth like ripples across the surface of a pond.
In the morning, it breathed in fresh-faced miners to the sound of a sharp whistle that, in winter, pierced the darkness and echoed like a predatory howl.
In the afternoon, it breathed them out again. Coal-stained hands left smudges around tired eyes blinking rapidly against the dying light.
The whistle always seemed quieter at the end of the day; low pitched and long, as if channelling a collective yawn from those who had toiled for hours underground.