"My earliest memories are of feeding next door's chickens and my mother's voice."
"My earliest memories are of feeding next door's chickens and my mother's voice.
I loved my mother all the time, but I loved her most on Friday nights when my Dad went out and I had her all to myself.
We'd switch off the telly and she'd tell me stories. Stories about my granddad - Tom the Collier - who claimed decent from Morgan the pirate, once chopped his finger off with a wood axe and who died before I was born.
The best story was when they ate chicken when it wasn't even Christmas.
They had a terrier called Toby, named after a Punch and Judy dog they saw at the sands at Barry Island.
One day, Toby ran in, next door's chicken hanging dead from his jaws.
The chicken's owner was furious, demanding compensation and that the vicious dog be put down.
My granddad Tom, liked a laugh but he hated injustice, so he told her that Toby was only doing what terriers did, but that he'd pay for the chicken.
She named an outrageous price. Tom paid up, even though it took a hefty chunk out of that week's wages.
The old lady was triumphant, 'So I'll just take my chicken and we'll say no more.'
My granddad shook his head, 'No, I think you'll find it's my chicken now. What's paid for stays here!'
And that night my granddad Tom, his wife Mabel, my mother Pat, her sister Gwyn and Toby the terrier, all ate chicken even though it wasn't Christmas.
Now, my son Morgan, feeds chicken at the bottom of our own garden. But his Nan, my mother, died before he was born, so I tell him these stories so that she lives in his imagination, like my granddad lives in mine. "