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"My grandfather was a carpenter who had one good season as an undertaker during an influenza epidemic. He lost the profits when he jerry-built six houses on a hillside that was on the move. As soon as he got the last slate into its dubious slot the top-soil began to move towards Cardiff, and the houses slid twenty feet down the slope and finished up as bungalows of a kind.
My father was a poor hand with a hammer. He went into the mines and became one of the most erratic units in the whole of that turbulent labour force. He tended the underground ponies and must have kept these animals in a constant state of fret, for time and again he would be brought home, lacerated and looking martyred, with hoof-prints all over him.
My mother was a woman of courage and resource. She supplemented my father's patchy efforts as a provider by making oil-skins for miners in a shed at the back of the house. She died when I was six, overborne by child-bearing and the atmosphere of that shed. For years afterwards the oil-cans she had used in the making of those suits were allowed to remain, baffling and depressing me in turns."
('A Few Selected Exits: An Autobiography of Sorts' - Gwyn Thomas.)
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