July 1980

Elizabeth pulled back the net curtains and looked out of the window; it was raining again. She tutted to herself, and moved to the back door of her small terraced house to get the sheets off the line. ‘Bloody weather,’ she muttered to herself, as she made her way to her washing, grabbing the washing basket in her arms. The news had promised a fine day in south Wales, and they had lied again. She looked across to her next door neighbour’s house as she worked, and noticed that Mrs Davis had her smalls out too.

‘Hey, Renee!’ she called out over the fence that separated the two properties. ‘The weatherman’s told us a load of bull, as per usual. It’s going to lash down any moment!’

Renee Davies came scuttling out, an appreciative look on her face. ‘Thanks, Elizabeth, I was watching Countdown and dozing off in my chair. I didn’t notice the weather! How’s that little granddaughter of yours? Is she pleased with having a new brother? They can get proper jealous at that age you know!’

Elizabeth nodded in agreement. ‘They can do, but not my Rhian. She has been good as gold, helping her mother change the nappies, and fetching and carrying for her. Fran says that she’s a god send; what with Jim having to go back to work so soon after the baby’s born. I’d like to help more, but you know what my arthritis is like; I would be too afraid to pick him up! They’ll be over later this afternoon, come in for a cup of tea and a cuddle.’

Elizabeth went back into her kitchen and put the kettle on. She went into her living/dining room, and looked out of the window which gave a view of the road outside her street. Just then, a pale green Morris Minor car pulled up into the driveway. It was her daughter Fran and the children. As she opened the front door, she was nearly knocked over by her eldest granddaughter, Rhian, who was excitedly clinging onto Elizabeth’s apron. She was clutching her Tiny Tears doll and giggling.

‘Hey, young lady, you nearly winded me good and proper then! Sit yourself down on my settee. I have those nice biscuits in tin, but only if your good mind!’

Rhian rushed into the living area, and Elizabeth pulled open the door for her daughter and her new baby, Michael who was fast asleep in her arms. Her daughter looked pale and tired, but it was to be expected, with a new baby and an exuberant youngster at home. Rhian was a handful at the best of times, but since the baby had come along, she had becoming more and more demanding.

‘Hello mum,’ said Fran, kissing her mother on the cheek. ‘Sorry we’re late, but this little monkey would not settle. How are you, and how’s the arthritis? Are you able to get to the chemist for pain relief?’

‘Don’t worry about me, I’m fine. You have enough to do looking after yourself and the kids. Come, let’s sit down and have a cuppa.’

They had just sipped their tea, when the back door knocked and opened to Elizabeth’s neighbour, Renee standing there holding a sponge cake.

‘Freshly made, now tuck in you lot.’ Renee sat the cake down onto the kitchen table. ‘Where is he then? Let’s grab a cuddle while I can.’

*

Elizabeth had lived in the village of Llanberis all of her life. Her father had worked in the coal pit at Newport, and so had her dear late husband Will. She had brought her family up in the small rural existence that she loved, and both of her children lived nearby. Her daughter Fran was a five minute drive away by car, and her son John lived in Newport itself with his wife and two young daughters. John didn’t go into the pit like his dad, but had got himself a couple of ‘O’ levels and had worked in the Post Office as a sorting officer for the last twenty years, while his wife Marge worked part time in a dress shop. They lad a comfortable life with their girls and managed a package holiday to Spain most years, unless John wanted to update his car to a newer model. The family came over most weekends, and stayed for lunch. If it was a fine day, John was happy to cook some bbq food outside, and this suited Elizabeth as she could just rest and watch him cook.

Fran spent most days at her mother’s house. She enjoyed chatting to the neighbours when she was over, as she had grown up with them all. Everyone had made a fuss when Michael was born. There was a gap of ten years between the baby and Rhian, and unspoken whispers of ‘Are you going to have another baby? A brother or sister will keep Rhian company.’ Until now though, there had been no sign of a baby. Elizabeth watched her daughter tenderly feed her new son his bottle; he was a much wanted later addition to their family, and she sensed how pleased her daughter was.

There was a knock at the door; her son in law Joseph appeared in the doorway.

‘I did knock, and let myself in. How’s things Elizabeth?’

*

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