This is my dad, me, and my brother, about 1956 in Llanishen. (You can just see my mate Stewart Wood in the background
towards the right-hand side border.)
If you think this photo was posed, you'd probably be wrong. Around this time, my dad did actually ride around on his
motorbike with my brother and me just as you see us, sitting precariously on the petrol tank. No crash helmets or anything.
Just as well we didn't have an accident, or we'd all have been goners, and what a tragedy that would have been for the world!
In later years, my dad would sometimes drop me off outside Cardiff High School on a Saturday morning ("A what?"
I hear you say. Yes, we had to go to school on a Saturday morning as well, although we got a half-day off during the week
- a very strange arrangement!), so if any of my schoolmates have a memory of someone being dropped off outside the school
from a motorbike around 1964-65 ish, that would have been me and my dad.
This didn't last long though. About 1966 his nerve went and he chose the much safer, and by now more popular option -
he bought a car, a Morris 1000 Traveller - the one with the wood finish. But a trip in his car to school was never as
exciting as holding on to him for dear life as he weaved through the town traffic on his motorbike!
As you can see, my dad was 'working class', and wore his cloth cap with pride almost until the day he died. He was a
part of what sociologists might call the 'self-assured' working classes.
I consider myself 'working class' as well, and proud of it. To me, the soubriquet (now that's a nice word for a working
class lad from Grangetown to use, but that's what happened when you went to Cardiff High School!) merely describes what
we do - it says nothing about where in the pecking order we are supposed to be. It's just the ignorant and stupid
that think 'working class' means 'lower' (or even 'lowest') class. We work for a living (when we can get work, that
is) and what's wrong with that! No, I think these people that describe themselves as 'middle class' are weird (and I would
be deeply offended if anyone described me as 'middle class') because they are implying that while they consider themselves
superior to some, they are inferior to others - that must be so otherwise they wouldn't be in the middle would they
- whereas I am the equal of anyone so there is no one above me and I 'kow-tow' to no one -
my dad taught me that - so I can't be in the middle, now can I. (End of lecture!).
My dad was a skilled plumber, and the middle classes were beholden to him when their pipes burst. But he always reckoned
they were the worst payers. Sometimes he used to stick a couple of quid on their bill if they didn't make him a cup of tea,
or just because they were rich. Serve 'em right too! Chalk one up for the proletariat!
Apparently, his plumbing skills came in useful for another reason. At home, at the beginning of winter, he used
to make a connection to the gas input pipe (that's before it was connected to the gas meter) and ran a gas fire
off it, disconnecting it just before the gas meter reader arrived some months later! Well, money was tight in those days,
so the opportunity of a bit of free heating wasn't to be passed up. I've no idea how he did it, or how he got away with not
getting caught by the gas board or without blowing half the street up in the process!
Being the son of a plumber, I was probably the only boy at Cardiff High School for Boys who knew what a 'bidet'
was, and what it was used for, long before I knew the same for a condom!
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