I can vaguely remember my father coming home from Scotland. Not long after his arrival, we had to move again when he got a house near his work.
There was no road transport to speak of.
Everything was very basic. We had no carpets, no wallpaper, no paint on doors, not even an oil lamp. We used candles for light, and sticks we gathered for the fire. My father used to steal potatoes to feed us.
We had no footwear, so we used to suffer a lot from foot injuries. Iodine was the cure for everything. Three of us went to school and we had two pairs of gutties between us. The other two were supposed to take turns at carrying me because I had no shoes. But if they ever had an argument, I was dumped on the road. When we got home from school, all shoes and ‘good’ clothes had to be removed.
The lunch we took to school consisted of a slice of dry bread. Sometimes, we would eat this on the way to school and had no more food until we got home, when we would get bread and jam and, sometimes, yellow meal porridge.
It was always a great day for us when a nearby farmer was killing pigs. We got livers, hearts etc which were very tasty boiled or fried.
Sometimes we stole eggs from hens’ nests. The hens often laid their eggs in nests they’d made away from the farms. I remember going out for a walk with my father one Christmas. As we dandered along by the river, we saw a duck swimming on its own and before long it was being carried home. We had duck for Christmas dinner, but it was so tough that no-one could eat it.
It turned out that it was a very old duck.
I remember my father saying that we got what we deserved because we stole it.