Homework for Haringey Literary Live. )7/03/2018. Edited 12/04/2018
In the early days of the war, around 1941, pets such as cats and dogs were abandoned, as it was difficult to feed them, our rations being so meager.
It was common to see a poor dog roaming the streets looking for food and a friendly face.
One of these poor creatures, a little Jack Russell, adopted our home; he just sat on our doorstep until my mum let him in.
He had a little tag on his collar with the name ‘DICK’ on it.
Now, although we were a big family, living in a poor area of Chertsey, my mum tried to keep up her standards, this meant absolutely no swearing, and to have something called ‘DICK’ roaming the house was just too much for her to bear.
In fact, any word that even sounded like a rude one would have a more proper alternative.
For instance, we would not be allowed to say ‘FART” it would instead be, ‘BLOWOFF’ or ’LET OFF ‘and such as that. Even now I am uneasy about saying this forbidden word.
As for saying ” I want to do a number two”, mum would cut you short by wagging her finger and say, “Ah– ah”.
From then on, instead of saying I want to do a number two, we would say “I want to do an Ah–ah”.
Following this rule, ‘Dick’, our little Jack Russell was renamed ‘Eric’.
Besides these rules for naughty words, my mother had a problem with tangling her word’s, she hardly ever remembered the our right name, in a family of six that could be quite confusing.
For instance I was called Trevor for weeks on end and then she would revert to my proper name, Alan—we once had a cat called Trevor.
Eric was in a very poor condition and continually scratching himself.
We looked to see if he had fleas or something like that, but all that could be seen was a bare patch where he had removed some fur from his belly.
Going to a vet was out of the question as it was a bus ride away in Addlestone, but luckily our doctor was quite willing to give advice if needed, but could not treat the animal.
We put Eric in a shopping basket with an old jersey covering him to keep him warm and joined the queue outside Doctor Ward’s surgery.
No one in our road had a phone to make an appointment, so all you had to do was to take the chair nearest the door and as each person was seen, we moved along to the next chair until we were shown into the surgery.
It was not unlike musical chairs, but without any music.
Doctor ward smiled as he saw my mum, he had been our doctor for ages and had delivered most of our family. My mum had also been an unofficial midwife to most of our neighbours.
I held the shopping basket up so that the doctor could see Eric, but he didn’t look in it.
“Hello Ethel, what can I do for you today?”.
“Doctor, could you look at my little Jack Russell, it has a nasty itch”
Now the doctor was well aware of my mum’s aversion to rude words, and suchlike and also her ’Malapropisms’—mixing up her words.
I saw him look at her intently, trying to work out what on earth she was talking about, then he smiled as he thought he knew what she meant.
“Ah, I see, your little ‘little Jack Russell’ needs some attention”.
Still smiling, he took a jar of ointment from his cabinet and said, “Here we are Ethel, just rub this on your ‘Little Jack Russell’ twice a day and don’t ride your bike for fortnight”.