LESLIE                  ME       KEN
                            1925

                                FROM THE VALLEY

                                      TO THE SEA
 
 

I sometimes look back through the mist of time,

To a mountain path we used to climb.

Not as a way of spending our leisure,

The climb we made, was not for pleasure.

Picture four weary figures, climbing the rise,

In single file, each decreasing in size.
 
 

My father the leader, then we brothers three.

The one on the end ? you're right it was me,

Each of the four of us carried a sack.

On our return home, our hands were pitch black.

We''d been to find coal, on a mountain of slag.

Mine wasn't a sack, just a little sand-bag.
 
 

It was one that was used in the first World War.

I wasn't much help, as I wasn't quite four,

But I was pleased to think I was doing my share,

For we'd no other heat, and the cupboard was bare,

Nine months strike at the pit, times were really hard.

Not much reason for singing, in "The Land Of The Bard".
 
 

A visiting uncle, for us turned the tide

Said there might be a job, where he worked, if Dad tried.

The news that Dad sent us, was the best it could be

He'd found work in Marine Shops, on Parkestone Quay.

For months he saved up, all he could earn,

For what meant to my mother, a happy return,

To Harwich, where most of her youth was spent,

Until she worked as a nanny, in Antwerp and Gent.
 
 

Her mother's death, made her father decide,

To leave the town, where his wife had died.

The trip from the Rhondda, to our home by the sea,

That ordeal stays fresh in my memory.

The journey to London, made us weary and bored,

Then we longed for a taxi, that we couldn't afford.
 
 

The night walk, across London, left us all dead beat,

Then the long, long wait at Liverpool Street.

I fell asleep, when we got on the train,

Until my mum woke me up, to look at a plane.

That was something, my brothers and I'd never seen,

Back there, midst the mountains and valleys so green.
 
 

When we got to my auntie's, we all felt half dead.

We enjoyed a good meal, and went early to bed.

I spent that first night in a  a drop-side cot.

Did I have a good nights sleep ? Oh! no! I did not.

Long before the break of dawn, I awoke to nature's call.

Half asleep, I climbed the side, then came the painful fall.
 
 

First the bang, then my screams, woke the others in the room.

A match was struck and candle lit, to penetrate the gloom.

I'm afraid that nature's call, came a little late for me.

I had soaking wet pyjamas, to complete my misery.

I found I was the youngest, when I went to my new school.

I had started school at three, in Wales it was the rule.
 
 
 

My troubles started later, when I mixed with bigger boys.

Gangs of them would tease me, and take away my toys.

They would all crowd around me, and tell me things to say.

For my unfamiliar accent, gave my origin away.

I tried hard to lose my accent, I think I did it well.

Mine is now so nondescript, where I come from few can tell.
 
 

My eldest brother, known as "Taff", I'm sure had never tried.

Just like my Dad he kept his accent, till the day he died.

Starting school so early, I spent two years in one class.

The second year time seemed to drag, to be there was a farce.

My interest in the lessons waned, and school became a bore.

Next year, though I changed my class, I dreamed on as before.
 
 

At ten years old, I changed schools, then a complication,

For being absent through a fall, I missed the examination.

As I came with zero marks, I was placed in form C 3.

The class for those who couldn't learn, with low mentality.

My teacher said I should be moved, up to a higher class,

I had to wait, for two long years, before that came to pass.
 

When that move came it was too late, I didn't stand a chance.

The lessons they were doing, for me, were too advanced.

If I said I didn't understand, I was treated like a fool.

                                  Therefore anything I've learned, I learned since leaving school.
 

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