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16 October 2014

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Mam Collins

By Nia Evans
30 November 2007, South East Wales
A digital story from Rhondda Lives!

"I walked down my terraced street, and they've got wasteland then, It's about half a mile across. There's all the old slag heaps where it's just been levelled out from the pit. I go down the side of the mountain. I can see her back garden now because she's got red window frames and a red back door. All the others are like brown and black. I just go round the back of the house down to the red front door, because red at the back, red at the front. Feels as if it's going to fall off in your hand but they won't.

You can see my gran then sitting at the table, smiling. By her elbow she's got the brown teapot ready to pour a pot of tea.

The back door then is directly in the kitchen itself. You've got a washing line then where she usually hangs the bed sheets out on the washing line or her underwear and stuff, it all depends what type of day it was, and that washing line then would be hitched up with a post.

You'd open the shed door to go into the coal, coal hut as my gran called it, and there were just spiders everywhere, Oh, I used to cringe going in to get the coal for her. We'd come back down then and she alwys used to have a red sauce sandwich waiting to say thank you. She was strict, she was fair, she used to make it a fun game thing every Sunday to pull all the Brasso out and clean the brass. Oh, the house used to stink. Your clothes would stink. She always used to wear an apron. Don't know if it was an old person thing but she always used to wear an apron. I think she had one for every day of the week.

The only memory I've got left now, when I walk across and look at the house is a piece of coal which is the last thing I took from the house when my gran passed away. I see coal as a bit of everything, it's a comfort cos that's where I was born and raised in the Rhondda and it's a comfort because it's from my gran's house and I couldn't think of anything better than to carry around than a bit of coal.

My gran wouldn't be able to cope with the Rhondda today. She was so set in her ways, and old fashioned so to speak. She couldn't, she couldn't cope with the Rhondda today because there's no corner shop no more where you'd like buy a bit of sugar here, a bit of bread there, and that. It's all modernised so, I still walk across the slag heap and I look down then where I used to play when I was a child and the grass is still overgrown out the back. I'm not quite sure what the shed is used for. It is sad to look down now, but somebody else is there now."

Nia Evans
Your comments

"Captured it exactly for me too. I feel really nostalgic now and would like to thank the author for her candid description ... We're really lucky to have that heritage, a lot of other people would'nt understand. Again thanks, and well done, "bloody marvelous !" as my nan used to say" Mat, now in Germany, but a rhondda boy still.

"It was from the heart and I knew what she meant, job well done." Anon, Wales.

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