Half a crown

Of course, the disaster at Aberfan in 1966 made a huge impression on me, as it did on everyone at the time. For those of you who are too young to know or don’t live here, it is a village in Wales where a coal slag heap slid, following heavy rain, onto the village primary school, killing nearly all the pupils and their teachers. The most appalling tragedy, everyone was shocked and grieved for their parents and the few survivors.

What I remember too is that there was a fundraising appeal. How money would help wasn’t that clear, but there was a big response. We were asked to bring contributions to school and my mother gave me half a crown to take in. I never told her, but it was quite embarrassing. Everyone else brought in sixpence or a shilling at most and I rather stood out. Since my main aim in life at that time was to remain unnoticed in the background, I was particularly uncomfortable in case it looked as if I was showing off.

Half a crown, two shillings and sixpence. Twelve and a half pence. There’s inflation for you, it would be an embarrassingly small amount now. I wonder what happened to the money – apart, perhaps, from funeral expenses, I can’t think that any of the bereaved parents would have wanted to take it for themselves.

I’ve had a rare burst of domesticity in the last couple of days. Unable to sleep the night before last, I got up early and could think of nothing better to do than clean the aga and polish cutlery. Today, I defrosted the fridges. Well no, one of them is the frost-free sort so I cleaned it – I’m not sure what happened while I was away but it was slightly and unidentifiably whiffy when I got home. The other one has a freezer compartment with a very slightly deficient seal. It’s fine for weeks, then a slight build-up of ice soon turns into a snowstorm. Not literally, mind you.

Next week I shall revert to my normal slapdash self. Domesticity doesn’t suit me in the least. Why, I even ironed the skirt I’m wearing this morning. All quite worrying. I’ve been cleaning windows and everything.

Have a good weekend, everyone.


Sent from my iPad

11 comments on “Half a crown

  1. Compostwoman

    I remember taking in a half crown as well to nursery for the Aberfan appeal. I was 4 at the time. I had nightmares about being covered in a slag heap for weeks after( I am Welsh by blood and had family in mining and also some distant relatives in Aberfan …maybe even some died but I do not know as was to young to remember and have no one to ask , now )

    Strange what sticks in our minds – I have had the same bad dream this week, 46 years later …..

  2. Macy

    I remember worrying that the slag heap at the end of the road where my granny lived was going to be the next one to slide down.

    My dad said it wouldn’t because it didn’t rain as much in Glasgow as it did down in Wales…..!!!

  3. Rog

    Cleaning out the freezing compartment can sometimes lead to a frosty silence in the kitchen.

    Half Crowns looked and felt like they were really worth something… as big as Waggon Wheels they were in my day.

  4. Susan

    I remember Aberfan too, though I don’t remember there being a collection at school. I do remember that half a crown was the price of an Armada paperback – they published all the Enid Blyton books and I used to save up my pocket money to buy them. I think my mother still has some of them left at home!

  5. Z

    You must have gone to a more affluent area than my school was in, Compostwoman. Half a crown hadn’t seemed out of the way, but I distinctly remember the sensation it caused.

    Your dad was being economical with the truth, Macy, but in a good cause.

    Minor rejoicing in this case, Rog, the ice stretched nearly half-way across the kitchen (I’m lying, obv). And Wagon Wheels, don’t get me started on Wagon Wheels. Blimey, I can fit one in my mouth nowadays, they used to be huge. Huge. You could share one between a family of four and have enough left over for a midnight feast.

    If you got a ten shilling book token for Christmas and a hardback cost 9/6, they wouldn’t give change and you had to buy a Highway Code for 0/6d. The number of Highway Codes in our house … of course, now you just get an app for your phone.

    I wondered that, Zig, but there were so few children left, it might have been just too poignant. Maybe something for babies or the older children?

  6. Z

    John darling, I’m so sorry but all your recent comments have ended up in the spam folder. I’ve no idea why, but I suddenly realised I’d been seeing them on my email but not here, so I’ve retrieved them. I’ll keep my eye open and not let it happen again.

    I did, thank you. I’m a fool, but not quite that much of a fool.


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