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Bradford Lad: Breezy Bath Time

While having a bath in a metal tub in the living room of his home young Mike Coatsworth feels an icy blast then hears giggles.

Bath night, which was usually on a Saturday night, consisted of having a good scrub down in a large metal tub in front of the warm range fire in the living room. There were five children and two adults, and we used to take it in turns from the youngest upwards.

Two people would have a bath, turn by turn, then the water would be changed. We boys had no privacy. We had to line up, waiting for our turn. But a small screen was erected for our sister, a bed sheet hung over a clothes horse, and no one else was allowed in the room except for our aunt.

On my birthday, while a party was being arranged for me, I was allowed to bath first. While my brothers were upstairs I took my time in the clean water. My aunt scrubbed my back then went into the kitchen to finish preparing food for the party.

I got soap in my eyes. I reached for the towel, but couldn’t find it. As I stood up I felt an icy blast. Someone had opened the front door. There were girlish giggles. I was no longer alone. I picked up a small rug and covered myself with it. My eyes were stinging with soap in them. I rubbed them
with a corner of the rug. When I opened them I saw our neighbours' children, three girls and a boy, being quickly ushered into the kitchen by their mother, who was finding it hard to contain her laughter.

When the coast was clear I stepped out of the bath, still covered by the rug. As I stepped onto the now-bare floor boards a large splinter went into my foot. I screamed out in pain, dropping the rug as I made a grab for the injured foot. There was a rush of bodies from the kitchen and down the
stairs, everyone coming to see what the screaming was about.

I was deeply embarrassed, making a grab for the towel which I had just spotted. As I did so I placed my injured foot on the floor and pain again shot up my leg. I fell backwards. My bum hit the edge of the bath, causing it to tip over.

Soapy warm water splashed in all directions.

My aunt placed the now-wet towel around me. The neighbour removed the splinter from my foot then applied a makeshift bandage. ‘Here you are lad,’ she said, giving me a tiny package wrapped up in tissue paper. ‘Happy birthday.’

I quickly removed the tissue paper to discover two silver threepenny bits. I was delighted. I could now afford to go to the matinee next day to see the latest Roy Rogers film at the local cinema. I also had enough to buy an ice cream. However I used the extra money to give my brother a treat, rather than spending it on ice cream. He came along to the cinema with me.


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