At weekends my mum would walk down the hill into Pontypridd to do her shopping, and bring home a "pigs trotter" for me, that is, a cooked pig's foot! "There you are" Mam would say, plonking it down in front of me," Get that down you, it will fatten you up." So there I sat munching my pig's trotter, when suddenly Dad came into the room.
"C'mon clear the the table" said Dad,"We've got a load of coal." Dad, being a coal miner,was allowed a couple of tons of coal each year, and unfortunately this was one of those days.
I say unfortunately, because it wasn't delivered in sacks,but dumped off the lorry right outside the front door of the house. Now, as our coalhouse was situated at the rear of the house, and directly under the back kitchen, this meant the coal would have to be carried through the house,down the steep steps, up the garden path and into the coal house.
As this would take about two days, and probably give Dad that many ruptures, a hole had been cut in the kitchen floor, and a trapdoor fitted." I think I'll go out to play now" I said, " Oh no you won't" says Dad " Grab a bucket" so grabbing the smallest bucket I could find, I followed Dad outside, and stood in front of a huge mountain of coal, which I thought would take a whole week to clear, when suddenly, the whole family appeared, to lend a hand.
We all filled our buckets, and then walked through the house making sure we kept our feet on the newspaper laid down on the floor, tip the coal through the trapdoor, and then trudge back for another bucketful, trying not to trip over Bob, our dog, who thought it was all good fun, and who was racing through the house like a lunatic!
After about ten minutes, we realised Bob was missing."Anyone seen Bob" I said,"Last time I saw him he was racing into the kitchen at about 30 miles an hour" someone replied.
We all stopped and looked at each other in stunned silence. Thinking the same thing, we walked to the trapdoor, and looked down into the dust filled darkness, expecting to see our little friends broken body beneath the huge lumps of coal."I'll go get him" said Dad sadly, as he went down the steps to the garden and towards the coalhouse. He undid the clasp on the door and walked in.
Suddenly a black shape shot between his legs, up the steps, and into the house.
Bob was alive, dirty and frightened, but still daft as a brush!
After the coal had been put away, then began the work of cleaning the floors, and
getting rid of the coaldust that had accumulated in every nook and cranny.
Times were hard for Mam in those days, as there were no labour saving gadgets
such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, or electric irons. Mam had to wash the laundry in an old tin bath outside the house. If the weather was cold or wet, the laundry was boiled in a big old bucket on the gas stove and had to be stirred regularly with what looked like an old pick-axe handle.