In the bookshop at Alcatraz we met a man who, as a warder’s son, had spent his childhood on the island and written up his experience and memories. It was fascinating listening to him. In one part of the old Waterschei coalmine buildings there is a permanent exhibition about the mine and mining, with a lot of original equipment. On one wall there is a map and as I gazed at it, in a sort of echo of the Alcatraz experience, I heard somebody, speaking in Italian, pointing out where various buildings had once stood. We got talking. It transpired he was an immigrant miner’s son, Flemish now, but showing an Italian cousin around. What did he remember? Constant activity. Lights at night. Noise and dust. And a sense of industry, of productivity, of prosperity. All gone now, of course (the mine closed in 1987), and difficult to imagine that once over 6,000 men toiled far beneath the remaining buildings in tunnels that stretched many kilometres away. Waterschei is a beautiful example of industrial architecture (picture) and doubtless a favourite for photographers. Despite having been gutted it is also a monument, full of ghosts, to a once proud industry. The main entrance to the mine has been sealed with an immense concrete slab (though, thrillingly, there seems to be a passageway through it). I wonder what former miners feel, gazing down at the place where they sunk into the bowls of the earth every day to toil at distant coalfaces… We drove back to Brussels listening to the music of Rocco Granata, son of an Italian miner at Waterschei and himself briefly a miner.