Every word is true…
Our house had four rooms and a kitchen. Sounds grand doesn’t it. Except…
You walked in off the street into our “Front Room”. It was ten feet square with an open fire. Somehow we managed to squeeze a sideboard, armchair, coffee table and a Piano into that tiny space. This was our “Best room”. We hardly ever used it. Apart from Dad who played the piano every chance he could.
The other room downstairs was our “Living Room.” Between the two rooms were a flight of stairs that led you up to the two bedrooms.
The “Living Room” also had an open fire. In fact it was the only fire in the house that was ever lit. There were two armchairs and a settee. A black and white television that had a radio combined and another coffee table. Why it was called a “Coffee table” I’ll never know. No one in the family drank coffee except Uncle George, so Mum kept a jar of Camp Coffee just for him. The jar lasted for years.
You walked through the “Living Room” into the Kitchen. It was no bigger than six feet by four. Yet we had a small table and chairs in there and a kitchen cabinet. There was a sink which had the only tap in the house. Cold water of course. Above the sink was an “Ascot heater” which provided us with a limited amount of hot water. We all washed at the sink with a bowl and flannel. Dad shaved there every morning and once a week we all washed our hair over it. Baths were Friday nights and that’s when Dad brought the old tin bath in from the garden.
There were no “Fitted carpets”. Just rugs over floorboards and a piece of “Lino” in the Kitchen.
We had an outside toilet next to the shed. It was exactly twelve paces away from the back door. I know I counted them many times on winter nights when it was below freezing.
There was no light in there either. Pitch black it was. Making it difficult to know whether you’d wiped properly or not. Mind you the paper that we used didn’t exactly wipe or absorb, more like smeared and spread.
Upstairs were two rooms, both again with open fires that were never lit. Me and my sister shared one and Mum and Dad had the other.
In the winter it was cold. REALLY cold. We’d all huddle round the fire in the Living room watching Tele and when it was time for bed I’d have pants and vest on underneath my pyjamas and then a jumper over the top. I never went to bed without socks and knitted gloves.
Every house in our street was exactly the same. We were lucky, there were only four of us (and Butch, the dog), but some of our neighbours had six kids, so there were eight people in those tiny houses.
Now you’re probably thinking this was a hundred years ago. It was 1970…