Jersey Bounce Hutchinson. Winter 1943.
At the age of eleven, although we had been bombed out two years earlier, I was quite unaware of the effect the war was having on anyone beyond our little clump of council houses. At school, prayers would regularly be said for some child who had lost an older brother or even a parent. It had become just a normal part of morning assembly.
Since our bomb—as we knew it— I still had a keen sense of my immediate surroundings, not afraid exactly, but expecting something to happen.
But not like this; The Americans had joined the war, and there were troop trains passing by. The soldiers threw packets of sweets out of the train as we cheered them.
A boy climbed the fence to gather the sweets and touched the live rail.
I saw at first hand, a broken family.
Up till that day, the war was exciting, things were going our way, now the Americans were stationed nearby. They had money to spend, they made the town buzz.
The Golden Grove, an old pub near to us was like a magnet to them, Jeeps were parked every where, as were lady’s bikes from miles around.
People were living for the moment, and it had an effect on us kids too. At school, girlfriends were becoming a problem, not for me of course, at first I never had one, but they began hanging about with my mates.
Some of these girls were from London, and were now living in ‘Princess Mary Village Homes’. This home was in the next town, Addlestone, and originally meant for girls at risk or for some minor offence. Now it was overflowing with evacuees and some of the girls were sent to our school for their lessons each day.
Although we were all of a similar age, they were so much more grown up, they were fluent in early Saxon, and were able to string together wonderfully long sentences that made your hair stand on end.
In our house, swearing was unheard of, so I never mastered the rhythm that these girls achieved so effortlessly
‘Shit, bugger’. Just didn’t sound convincing.
On the other hand, Danny Parker’s family had no problems with getting a point over with a few well chosen swear-words. After all, his mum was a railway porter at Chertsey station.
One girl from the ‘PMVH’, June Brown, from 62 Libra Road in London—don’t ask how I remember— did befriend me, she gave me an apple or biscuit in the dinner breaks. She called me ‘Blackie’. it didn’t last long though, she said my hair smelled funny.
This might have been the liquid paraffin—my sister was pregnant—that I put on my hair to make it shine, after a few weeks it probably did smell a bit.
This little success with the opposite sex, if you could call it that, made me aware of other girls in my class; Brenda Lamb, Anita Babbage and June Hollick, all from the top of the town and out of my reach.
Then there was Jersey Bounce Hutchinson, at first I thought this nick-name came from the Dixie-land jazz tune, ‘The Jersey Bounce’.
I soon realised it was nothing to do with music. She was a very popular girl, and she had an odd way of walking, it was as if she had springs on her shoes, this made it look as if she had a pet rabbit up her jumper. Our dinner table—all boys of course—would go completely silent when ever she bounced past, which she did continually during the dinner break.
Now I was beginning to realise what all the boys were talking about.