Bedroom Exercise 2.
This memory is of a night in the early part of the war.
My poor mum, everything is going wrong, Fred is in hospital with TB, and my new little brother David, is away in a home, he also has TB.
I also have a new sister, Sylvia, she is just a baby.
My sister Iris is the only one earning a proper wage, she works at Vickers, making fuel tanks for ‘Spitfires’.
My brother Bernard is in a training camp for the army, my sister Chris is also away training as a Land Army Girl.
My sister Deidre is now married and living Scotland.
That leaves Don my brother, he works as an errand boy, this helps to pay for something.
I am too young to work, apart from some farm work at school; we have to do it for the war effort, but have no money from this.
The war has turned everything upside down; things were really looking good just a few years ago.
Now my mum is working nearly all day at several jobs, just like she did before Fred joined us.
As if things could not get any worse we have been bombed out.
* * *
My ‘bedroom’ is now in the living room, the main bed is a ‘Morrison shelter’.
These shelters were simply a large table made of steel, they were big enough for five or six persons to sleep under.
I am being woken by my mother, she is crying and shaking me.
“ Alan, wake up, wake up, are you alright, we have been bombed”
For some reason I had decided to sleep under the dresser that night, my mum was leaning over me, she pulled the bedclothes away from me, broken glass fell to the floor, then and she pulled me out into the room.
I could hardly see across the room, the dust was so thick and choking, the light was on but only just visible
Amazingly I had slept through the noise of a bomb exploding just across the road, now I was awake and seeing the mess our room was in, the blackout curtains had been torn to shreds by the broken glass of the windows, the floor was covered with this glass still with bits of tape that was supposed to stop it from shattering.
Mum was now calling for my sister Iris, who preferred to sleep upstairs.
I follow her to the bottom of the stairs and see that the front door had been blown off it’s frame and was half way up the stairs, Iris is trying to climb over it and seems unhurt but very shocked.
I go outside to see what has happened, our neighbours were running back and forth to see if anyone needed help.
Outside the house opposite was just a heap of bricks and window frames.
People were trying to move the doors and the piles of bricks to see if they could help anyone inside.
Now there were flames shooting from the house lighting up the street. I could see our neighbours in their nightclothes running away from the flames, shouting for all of us kids to keep away.
The fire engine has arrived and the firemen are moving everyone away from the now fiercely burning house.
Ambulances were nearby and a man is treating someone on the ground, it looks like a lady but she is very still, her hair looks wet and her face is covered in blood.
Mum pulls me away and we go to Mrs. Salmons house a few doors away and we watch the flames and the firemen hosing it all down.
Our family are now together and not knowing what to do.
My poor mum, it was all to much for her, she just cried and cried.
With all she has had to deal with, in her forty odd years, this was the first time I had seen her so upset.