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Archive for December, 2013

English: Traditional child's plimsolls for sch...

English: Traditional child’s plimsolls for school physical education classes in the United Kingdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although we were happy now that we were all living together in a nice house and in such lovely surroundings, for Mum and Dad it was a time of hardship. Dad had a relapse, most likely due to all the stress of moving, and he was admitted to the hospital in Bridgend. He was there for a week, and when he returned home he looked exhausted. Money was also a big problem as the move to Wales had taken the little they had.

A lot of the worry my parents had to contend with at that time was to do with the village school. The school brought in a new dress code, making it a rule that all the pupils had to wear school uniform. There was no way my parents could afford four sets of school uniforms.

 Then one day I was sent home from school for not having proper shoes on as at the time I only had plimsolls to wear. Dad was furious that I had walked the mile from school on my own. When my sister Lil came home, Dad told her to write a letter to the headmaster to say that the four of us would not be attending school anymore.

Dad knew that the school board man would soon investigate why we were being kept home, and he intended to ask him for a grant towards the clothes we needed.

We had been home a few days, when the school official came to see my parents. He inquired why we were not attending school. Dad explained that he was unable to work because of bad health, and there was no money to spare for uniforms and shoes, which the school now required us to wear. He then asked if the school board could give us a grant to cover the necessary items. This request was promptly turned down.

The man then told Dad that he would have to make sure that we were at school the next day, wearing any clothes available. At this, Dad lost his temper and shouted at him: “I am not sending my girls to school looking different from everyone else.” The man started to look frightened, as my Dad was getting very angry. Dad grabbed hold of the man’s coat and said: “I am going to keep them home until you give me a bloody grant.”

Questions at School

Mum was looking very embarrassed and told us to go outside for a while. We could still hear Dad shouting, then we heard the street door as it slammed shut.

Mum accused Dad of being rude, and then they started arguing. It certainly was not a happy family who went to bed that night.

However, there was a happy ending to all the unpleasantness as Dad later received vouchers for our uniforms and shoes in the post. The first day I put on my new school clothes I felt quite grown up. It comprised a gymslip, a white blouse, navy cardigan and red tie. I also had a pair of black lace-up shoes.

Mum and Dad were very proud of the four of us as we set off for school wearing our school uniforms. As soon as we arrived home from school, the first thing we had to do was change into old clothes. Being the youngest, I used to end up with my sister’s hand-me-downs – and they were already second-hand when they wore them. I used to look like ‘Orphan Annie’.

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Old suitcase lockA few weeks later Mum and Dad met us from school, with our two brothers. Mum told us to go and collect our belongings as we would not be going back to our billets any more. Mary and Kath ran to fetch their things, while Lil and I went to fetch our belongings and explain to Mrs Davies that we were leaving. Although Mrs Davies was quite surprised and looked a bit annoyed, she soon went back to reading her love stories, and left us to collect our things. The four of us were very excited and happy at the thought of our family being together, and not having to stay in any more strange houses.

English: South Wales main line near Llanharan ...

South Wales main line Looking towards Llanharan.

Mum and Dad were waiting for us in the village square. Mum told us to put all our things in the pram, then she sat our young brother on top and we set off to walk to our new home. It was about one mile from the village, and on the way Dad stopped to show Mum the manor house where Lady Blandy-Jenkins lived. As we were walking along, Mum told us that she was sad to leave her neighbours and friends in Hackney Wick. However, she realised it would be safer for the family to leave London, and that she was happy for the family to be together again.It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at the farmhouse. The removal men had left earlier in the afternoon. Mum and Dad had made the beds up, and sorted out the crockery and utensils ready to make a meal.

While Mum was preparing the food, we had to go and get the water needed for the tea and cooking. At first it was difficult to collect any water from the stream as it was so shallow. Dad then made a gully out of an old pipe he had found in the barn, which made it easier for the water to run into our pots. It seemed very hard work carrying the water from the stream to the house and by the time we handed Mum the pots there was only about half left. Dad had lit the fire some time ago to heat the hotplate for the kettle, but it seemed to take ages before the kettle boiled. At last we all sat down for the first meal in our new home.

Richard Lipp upright PianoMum had put us four girls in the back bedroom. There were two double beds, a chest of drawers and a chair. My two brothers, George and Brian, shared the small bedroom, and my parents had the large front room. Downstairs in the front room, Mum had arranged the best furniture which had been in our parlour in Hackney Wick. Taking pride of place was Mum’s beloved piano. In the kitchen was a large table and six chairs.

Mum said she felt quite posh living in a farmhouse, but it must have been hard work for Mum and Dad bringing up a family in a house with no material comforts.

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