Frankie’s fandango, 1942

The war effort is in full swing. Posters were every where; ‘Careless talk costs lives’, ‘Dig for Victory’ ‘Put that light Out’, ‘A bomber can see you smoking’, and many more such as that.

Aluminium pots and pans were willingly surrendered to the council for making ‘Spitfires’.

Iron railings up the ‘Rec’ were cut down for guns and tanks.

Now it’s Saturday morning, Mrs. Salmon is round for her usual cup of tea, and says.

“I’m still waiting for the railings outside that big house, in Thorpe Road to be cut down.”

Mum just nodded, Mrs. Salmon is always going on about some-one not doing their bit.

“And I bet you, that they still have all their cooking pots.”

This is the best day, though, we do our washing in the morning. I like it because I help mum with the mangle—well named after I caught my fingers in it, that really smarts.

Mrs. ‘S’, is full of the latest gossip. But this time she can hardly contain herself.

She settles herself down in her favourite chair, leaning forward so far, that I’m worried she is going to slide off—the thought of trying to gather this huge lady up from the floor, made me shiver—I now know what is meant, when people say “I felt some-one walk over my grave.”

“Put the kettle on dear, and look, I’ve got some of your favourites, rock cakes with currants in.” I can read her mind about the tea, but the cakes are a nice surprise.

Normally, when there is something to say, that may not be for my ears, they will go into ‘gum talk’. But this time Mrs. ’S’ can’t wait—anyway they know I can now read their lips.

Slowly leaning back and folding her massive arms over her equally massive bosom. She has this odd expression on her face—not unlike the ‘Mona lisa’—As if only she knows a secret.

But that’s Mrs. ’S’ for you, she likes a bit of drama. I think she has watched too many silent films. She draws on her Woodbine so hard it flares—a bomber could easily see that fag, miles away, if it was dark.

“Effie, you know that good looking Italian bloke, Frankie? You know Effie, the one with the black wavy hair, who sells ice cream up the top of the town.”

Mum did one of her nods.

“Well, his wife caught him in the air-raid shelter with a young girl from Barker Road.”

Mum nodded again, this time she leaned forward as well.

“The cheeky bugger told his wife, he was just teaching the young girl a new dance step, it’s called the Fandango.”

They are both laughing, and she continues now rocking backwards and forwards, folding and unfolding her enormous arms.

“His wife went mad, and said she was going to cut off his whatchermaycallit.

She chased him all over Chertsey with a breadknife. They say, he was last seen running very fast up London Street, and she was following on her bike.”

“But Effie, this may just be a rumour. But it is funny isn’t it?”

Now they are really laughing.

“So Rosie, this may be just a cock and ball story then?”

They are both giggling as they drink their tea.  Mrs.’S’ reads the tea leaves in her cup.

“O0h, that’s bad news for some-one tonight. I wonder who it could be?”

Mum said. “It could be Frankie…… or on the other hand, his wife, if you know what I mean.”

Off they go again, Mrs.’S’ slapping her thighs, it is so good to see mum laughing again.





















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