Who Stole A Bloater?
It all started when Davy’s shoes, lovingly polished and mended by Dadda for months, had finally grown too small,
‘It’s wicked the way you grow!’ exclaimed Mamma, examining his pinched feet.
‘Chop his feet off,’ said Bessie. ‘Then he wouldn’t need shoes.’
‘Less of your cheek now. No, there’s no help for it. We’ll have to go to Griffiths the Boots tomorrow.’
Davy thought of all his schoolmates running to school. Every time he had to have new shoes, he asked the same question. ‘Mamma, can I have clogs?’
This is my father and his family, who become the Vaughans in the story. At the top is Gwladys, holding Tom, the baby of the family. Next to her, pulling the why-must-I-wear-this-stupid-sailor-suit face is my father, David Elwyn. Next is Irene. And in the front row are Dorothy, Gwenny and May. In the story they feature as Morag (why did I give her a Scottish name? A bit of Celtic confusion here, I think) Owen, Davy,Dilys, Bessie, Margaret May and Katie respectively. It was Tom who eventually became a vet and worked for many years with the Coal Board; my father became a teacher, as did Dorothy, Irene and Gwladys. May and Gwenny were nurses.
My grandfather, David Thomas, died before I was born – as well as working the cage in the mine, he was a well known local poet, Dewi Glan Rhondda. Some of his poetry is held in the National Library, Aberystwyth. My grandmother, Ann, I remember only as a very old lady. She was strict with her large and unruly family, but I can’t imagine how she managed to keep them clean and orderly and well-fed on thirty shillings (£1.50p) a week.
Here’s the owner of Shop Long, where the bloater was stolen from, doing his deliveries by horse and cart. The tune of Who Stole A Bloater incidentally, is called Ton Y Botel, a Welsh hymn tune that was supposedly found in a bottle.
In this view of Bute Street Treorchy from about 1902 you can just about make out Mrs Evan’s Temple on the left. Everyone has stopped to stare at the photographer in fascination. I don’t imagine you could set up a camera in the middle of the main road today.