Heaney’s picture from the 1940s and 50s era is all the richer for recollections of domestic detail. i Heaney cannot settle on the mots justes to describe the consistency of slack: Not coal dust, more the weighty grounds of coal. Slack was delivered by  lorryman … in open bags that he would tip: vent into a corner, A sullen pile indicative of gloomy times. One positive for a youngster faced with this specific chore was that slack was soft to the shovel, accommodating, easier to handle than the clattering coal. This was a period when people were used to shortage and setting-aside: days when life prepared for rainy days. Slack contributed doubly: dampen down (inhibit fast burn in the grate by sitting as a layer on top and depriving the fire of its oxygen) and lengthen […]