The builder in the bath and other stories

Here’s the first of our competition winners from Hazel Mulroy in Middleton:

It’s 1953. We live in Acre Crescent, a few doors away from my paternal grandma and not far from my maternal grandma and granddad in Thorpe Place. Things are about to change, but I’m too young to know this. My mum Doreen and dad Jack have secured a plot of land on Town Street in the old village.

It’s on an elevated position on the banking and opposite the farmyard belonging to Manor Farm. Chosen by my dad because of the fine view over Leeds. My parents decide on a bungalow and my dad designs the layout and hires a local builder who has already built the two semi detached houses next door.

The builder owns a goat which he keeps on the allotments in Back Mount Pleasant, but he brings it to work with him and ties it up in our back garden. My older brothers Philip and Garry soon discover that goats will eat practically anything and feed it a full packet of Woodbines along with the cigarette packet and silver paper, lolly sticks, toffees still in their wrappers and anything else they can find.

On one occasion it eats through it’s rope and chases my mum into the house where she shuts herself in the bedroom until it gets fed up & wanders out again.

Our next door neighbour Dolly owns a boxer dog which also torments the goat by barking at it constantly and it eventually gets into our garden and runs circles round the tethered goat, until the goat head butts it into the air and back over the garden fence!

Dad is a motor mechanic and works at Wallace Arnold in Hunslet, working night shifts so he is free to work on the new house during the day. He keeps an old brown warehouse coat at the house to use as an overall (like the one that Mr Tallant always wore in his shop at the top of Middleton Park Avenue).

There is no sign of the builder on one of his visits, or his brown coat, so he goes looking for it and is surprised to see a fire blazing away in one of the hearths. He then hears running water and lots of splashing noises coming from the bathroom.
The bathroom door is ajar and dad can just see his missing coat laid out on the floor at the side of the bath.

The cheeky builder is having a free bath and using dad’s coat as a bath mat and towel! He quickly reaches in and snatches his work coat and the pile of clothing next to it and quietly leaves chuckling to himself. Nothing was ever mentioned about this episode and funnily enough it never happened again.

Mum often goes to help out too. They both walk from Acre Crescent over the tram track, down Lingwell Road into Back Mount Pleasant, then down the red ash ginnel with me in the Silver Cross pram.

If it’s very cold and they need hot water they light a fire and I’m wrapped in a big cosy blanket and put in the airing cupboard for a sleep where it’s lovely and warm.

I can remember that sometimes if the fire had been lit all day there would be too much hot water and the boiler would make a loud booming noise. When this happened someone would have to have a bath immediately or turn on the hot tap and run some off until the noise stopped.

We move into our new home in the middle of 1954 when I am 18 months old. I am walking now & keen to explore. I have already given mum a fright by crawling up the stairs unaided in Acre Crescent when I was just a few months old.

This time it’s the roof! Dad is already up there with the binoculars. I see the step ladder and decide to climb. Luckily, he spots me half way up and hoists me up to join him. Mum is looking everywhere for me & eventually finds us both perched on the ridge tiles enjoying that amazing view.

 

Congratulations to Hazel who wins £25. The competition is still open so why not send us your short story or article.

The short stories can be true or made-up, and past or present. They can be up to 500 words long, and just need to have a south Leeds connection (LS10 or LS11).

Older folks might to tell us what life was like growing up years ago. If you weren’t born in South Leeds what we your first impressions when you arrived here? Can you recall an incident that sums up life in South Leeds? Remember to include the sights and sounds to draw us into your world.

Whatever your story, we would love to hear it.

If you have images to accompany the stories, all the better, please include them, but you don’t have to.

Please email your entries to info@southleedslife.com. To be included in the June newspaper we need all submissions in by 9am on Wednesday 20 May.

 

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