Tuesday, May 15, 2007

“Creepy crawlies in Craig-y-nos”

Roy Harry says his mother was amazed when he returned home in 1946 after a long spell in Craig-y-nos :
“Singing in Welsh with nits in my hair!”

I was reminded of this story while transcibing an account of 11 year old Beryl Richards early days in Craig-y-nos some 10 years later .
She asked why one new girl had her head swathed in towels and was told it was because she had “creepy crawlies” in her hair.

It resurrected a long buried, shameful, memory from that summer of 1951 when Frances, the girl in the next bed to me on the balcony, and I discovered we had head lice.

We knew about new girls having their heads searched on arrival and how they would have to have their hair covered in evil smelling liquid and how girls would stare at them .

But we had been in for years. And in bed. How come we got nits?

Tell the staff? no way!
We would have to suffer the humiliation of having our heads disinfected.

We came up with a plan.

It was summer with long light evenings.

After night sister had made her evening tour we got out mirrors and combs and caught the nits. We lined them up in neat rows. Killed them and counted them. That first night produced a lucrative haul of nearly 100 nits. We compared our nights work.
I had more nits that Frances.

By the end of the week our perseverance was rewarded. We were down to eggs. We carefully cracked them with our finger nails to make certain they would not hatch.

Finally we declared our heads clean.

And nobody knew about it.

Our heads were never checked for lice, except on admittance.

Many have commented on the fact that Craig-y-nos taught us to be self-reliant, independent, you had to sort things out for yourselves cause nobody else was going to do it for you.

We were 11 years of age.

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