'Ave yew got a barfroom?
We ain't got one neither, loike most of them wot live in Widdlin'ton village, but some of 'em 'ave got piped water so's they don't 'ave ter go ter the well no more.
We didn't never 'ave no well, 'cos our 'ouse is new compared wiv them up The Street, but then The Street is real old, loike the church, but the church is even older.
My 'ouse were built around the toime wot the railway come, 'cos they 'ad ter 'ave some place fer the people ter live wot 'ad jobs in the works up Pepper Mill Lane out towards Clayton. That were afore Oi were born o' corse, 'cos them works ain't a-workin' no more. They left some good places in the soide of the valley though, loike the Clay Pit, an' the Mountain Glide where we race our soapbox carts.
Any'ow, that ain't got nuffink ter do wiv barfrooms, 'cept when yew get a bit mucky from fallin' off yer cart. When that 'appens (or even when it don't) an' moi mum stops fussin', Oi 'ave ter 'ave a good wash all over. So Oi go outside ter fetch the big tin barf wot's 'anging on the wall by the shed an' bring it in ter the kitchen. Moi mum takes the big kettle an' several of our biggest cookin' pots; she fills 'em wiv water, an' puts 'em on the stove ter 'eat up.
When they're good an' 'ot, she calls me an' moi bruvver ter come inter the kitchen an' get undressed, only moi bruvver goes first 'cos 'ee's a year older than wot Oi am. Oi reckon as 'ow that ain't altergevver fair 'cos Oi ought ter 'ave first go sometoimes. But it ain't no good me complainin' too much, 'cos moi mum don't take no notice. Mum pours the 'ot water inter the tin barf but it's too small ter sit down in now, so we 'ave ter stand up so's she c'n soap us all over, scrub us down wiv a rough bit o' cloth, an' then rinse off the suds.
Loike Oi said, moi bruvver goes first, an' cripes, the water ain't 'alf dirty sometimes, by the toime 'ee's finished wiv it.
The best is Mondays when it's a school 'oliday, 'cos then we c'n wash in the copper laundry tub, when mum'as finished doin' the clothes, 'cos you c'n sit on the edge of the copper an' put yer feet in the water. It's noice an' warm too wiv the fire underneath an' all. It ain't no good on schooldays though, 'cos by the toime we get 'ome, mum 'as finished the laundry an' its all 'angin' on the line outside. If'n it's rainin' on a Monday, an' yew've got big stuff ter wash, loike bed sheets, well yew jus' 'ave ter wait till the wevver improves. Yew 'ave ter wait a long toime sometimes, in the winter.
Peter's lucky, 'cos 'ee lives in one o' them new posh 'ouses up Lions Avenue. Bungalows they call 'em, an' they got barfrooms wiv a geyser wot goes by gas. Must be noice ter be able ter 'ave a barf any ol' toime wot yew loike, but Peter ain't so 'appy about it. 'Ee 'as ter 'ave 'is barf on Saturday evenin' so's 'ee's all noice an' clean ter go ter church next day. The fing 'is, it's 'is aunt wot takes 'er barf a-fore 'im. She's a real stickler fer doin' things real correct, an' yew're only supposed ter 'ave three inches o' water so's we c'n win the war by savin' gas, an' that at the deep end an' all. She's got a special depth gauge 'angin' by the geyser so she c'n make sure she's obeyin' the regulation.
So Peter 'as ter take 'is barf after 'is aunt, in three inches of gray, second-'and water wot's nearly cold. Cripes, it ain't much fun.
Winnie, wot lives in an old 'ouse up The Street, 'as got a barfroom. It were put in by 'er dad in the junk room at the top o' the stairs. That were jus' before the war, when the electricity came. The water gets 'eated by a posh electric system wot 'angs on the wall. Winnie says she takes a barf real often wiv proper perfumed soap an' not the carbolic kind. P'raps that's why she always smells so noice.
P'raps one day after the war we c'n 'ave a proper barfroom too. Maybe Peter'll 'elp me bring the geyser in…
If'n yew want ter know more about Peter an' Winnie's barfrooms, yew could read "Gang Territory" http://www.peterstjohn.net/index_2.htm, but only if'n yew've got a barfroom yerself, 'cos Oi wouldn't want ter make yew envious; wot is a sin.
Luv from Jenno.