- Contributed by
- Horncastle College, Lincs
- People in story:
- MAXINE NORMAN
- Location of story:
- LIVERPO0L & NORTH WALES
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 28 October 2004
When mother and father said that my young sister and I had to go and live with our Aunt Amy in Wales for the time being, we were both dismayed and upset. My sister was only 9 years old and never liked being away from home, even for just one day, and I knew that our aunt did not really want us, particularly as her own children were now grown.
The journey from Liverpool to North Wales, via tram, ferry and bus was a doleful one and parting from mother the next day meant my sister spent the time in tears. I was instructed by my aunt to take her out on to the hill behind the cottage and play some games to try and cheer up. The following day we were taken down to the village school, met the three teachers and saw our classroom. to children used to a large city school the school was tiny, only two large rooms , one for the juniors and seniors and one for the infants. There were no proper desks as we knew them, just a bench which sat two or three with a higher bench in front and a shelf for our books underneath. As my sister was rather deaf she had more difficulties than me trying to adjust and began to be bullied.
The cottage was quite large but it had no proper kitchen , running water or electricity. We washed in our bedroom in bowls and water had to be carried up and down . The toilet was half-way down the garden and was an earth closet which smelt so much my sister hated it and I had to stand in there with her because she was afraid of the big hole. Lighting was obtained with oil lamps which had to be constantly cleaned and it was quite hard to read as the lighting was so poor.
Aunt was not fond of housework so gradually our clothes were washed less and less and we began to smell the same as the other children. Each time asked for clean clothes for us Aunt told me to "make do with what we had on" and of course we never had a bath so I began to feel dirty , which was distressing for us both and made life harder at school as the Welsh children commented that the "bloody English" did not seem to wash. As they were not exactly clean themselves I argued with this and got thumped in the playground for my pains! We were always 'the bloody English" and everything we said or did was made fun of as they talked Welsh to each other. Very little English was spoken by the locals so I asked to be taught some Welsh and the older boys taught me all the swear words they could think of and were full of mirth when I said them! At least it gave me something to shout back at them when they bullied my sister.
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