Late March 1940.

The snow has almost gone, no more sledging, down Ruxbury Hill, I’m helping Don to put our front gate back together.

Every council house has one of these gates, they are made of oak, this winter a lot of people chopped them up for firewood, it was so cold, mum said they will be in trouble when the council find out.

The council will always put a new one in though, even if it is missing, but mum says it’s a waste of time and money, most of the front gardens have no fences, the wire was taken for the war effort, so we all just cut across the grass—except mum, she always goes through the gate, she says it’s unlucky not to—at least we did before we had to ‘Dig for Victory’, now every garden must grow potato’s or some other vegetables.

Anne Stanford. A nice little girl, she looks like a fairy with her clean clothes and curly hair, and her friend, Jeanette Lessware, another posh girl, her dad works as a foreman at the Tank Factory in Chobham. Both have nice sledges, one made of yellow wood with a red leather seat, and the other made from metal tubing like bikes are made of, that is the fastest one of all our sledges.

Anne Stanford lives in the farmhouse, her mum was a bit mean with me last week, I collected some eggs that her chickens had laid in the hedge outside her house, they were hidden in the snow, and took them round to her, thinking she might let me keep some, but she didn’t. Next time I’ll keep them, they’re not even in her garden.

I leave Don to finish the gate, I need a warm up indoors.

Mrs. Salmon is having a cup of tea in our kitchen as usual. Now that rationing is on, I keep looking to see if she gets any smaller, but no, she still just about fits our old green velvet chair. She’s a very big lady, when she tries to get out of the chair, mum has to help her. I wonder how she manages to get off the lavatory, there’s no one there to help her.

I try not to think about it, but it keeps coming back.

That reminds me, there is something wrong with our lavatory, it is playing up, you have to pull the chain twice to make it flush, sometimes it never works at all, Don says, what you have to do is, make out you are not going to pull the chain, then do it suddenly, to catch it out. That never works for me though, so I just ask Don to do it, it always works for him, he’s very good at things like that.

Don comes in, he looks frozen, but he has put the gate back on it’s hinges.

Our gate is perfect for a sledge, all you have to do is knock it all loose with a hammer, and then take the two long end bits with the rounded tops, for the runners and the rest for the seat, it’s a bit heavy but very strong, we all do it—unless it’s wanted for firewood that is— then when the snows gone, you just put it all back together.

In the Playhouse in Guildford Street, our picture palace, they show Pathe Gazette, a news-reel, in between the little film and the big one, it’s all about the war, when there are pictures of the enemy tanks going through the towns with the German soldiers on top, every one hisses as loudly as they can, and then we all cheer when we see a Spitfire or Hurricane flying high in the sky. Sometimes the news is better than the films that are shown.

This morning we both went to the Saturday Children’s Picture Club. The news is not shown at that time. Will Hay is my favourite, he always plays a silly Station Master on the railway and everything goes wrong.

The other film was Laurel and Hardy, we were still laughing on the way home, just talking about it.









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