April 1934, 75 Pyrcroft Road.
Ethel sighs, as she see’s his sandwiches on the dresser.
“Oh, Charlie! You’ll forget your head one day.”
He has left in a hurry, after a bout of ‘flu, without a wage for the last two weeks, he needs to earn some money.
Smiling, she puts his lunch in the larder, he will cycle back the mile or so at midday, she would hear the clatter of his bike against the fence, then see his sheepish grin as he passes the kitchen window.
The school bell rings, the children will be safely filing into school now.
But, there was another bell, the mournful bell of the grave yard, first a muffled tone then a full one, another ‘flu victim, one of many in recent weeks.
She slowly did the sign of the cross—not a thing that she had ever done before, both she and Charlie had always been free of any religion.
Pulling herself together, she grabbed the huge pile of washing from the table, today is washday, filling the copper tub that is built into the corner of the scullery, a handful of soda, a stir with the copper stick, then to light the fire.
First some newspaper—but not before she sees the Head-line; ‘London hit by ‘flu epidemic’. She quickly puts a match to the paper and watches the head-line burn away.
Working quickly now, as if to change the subject of her thoughts.
The crackle of the wood blazing under the large copper tub and the white bleached copper stick plunging up and down on the washing, all sounding like a machine, anything— anything, to cast away those thoughts of sadness.
Now best of all, some bread on a long fork, toasting so quickly on the flaming wood, it burns.
Three-year-old Donald and his little brother Alan, licking their lips at the thought of some dripping on toast.
Ethel sits back in her favourite armchair, green velvet with lovely curved mahogany wood-work, a hand-me-down from Charlie’s family.
St Peters Church bell chimes, it’s already ten O’clock.
Through the kitchen window, she sees Mrs. Salmon, as usual she’s coming around for a chat and a cup of tea.
Rosy Salmon is a very large lady, her full face always blushed with the effort of just being so big. Her name, Rosy, is well chosen.
They settle down for their tea, and the local gossip.
Of course, the subject is ‘flu, the very thing Ethel is trying to avoid.
Then the sound of a bicycle banging against the fence, it must be Charlie.
She quickly put the kettle back on the hob.
Rosy leans back to see who it is at this time of the day.
For once her cheeks lose their blush.