Our memories begin to merge.
I could see Iris was feeling tired and sad, after bringing all these stories to mind. I suggested we could go out for a coffee or something.
She said. “You could take me to the shops, I need to buy some food for Charlie”.
I am only writing about this because shopping with Iris was an eye-opener.
In the CO-OP, amongst other things, she bought three bottles of their special ‘Sherry’, some cod loins, and several pouches of Charlie’s favourite cat food.
When we arrived home, I put the ‘Sherry’ in her fridge, there was already two bottles there!
The lovely cod loin, which I thought we may have for our lunch, was cooked and given to the cat!
She said. “He won’t eat any rubbish, and will only have the best cat food”.
She joked about her love of this ‘Sherry’.
“The doctor says my blood is 40% alcohol”.
I very much doubt this, for when I had glass, it was more like non alcoholic ‘Cherryade’!
We settle down again. My memories, for the years leading up to the 1939, were very scant, but I am beginning to remember similar things to her, especially the start of the War.
Iris starts again with her story.
“I have to say that although I never really liked Fred, he did bring us all back together, that is, until I and Deirdre went into service for a lady in Weybridge”.
“Bernard, was working at the Airscrew factory and is at least earning his keep’.
“With Bernard’s wage, and mum’s various jobs, things were working out, until September, 1939’.
Iris smiled, and opened another bottle.
“I had to leave Mrs. Bainbridge, and work in the Vickers factory in London Street, men and women all together, it was such a change, but I loved it’.
“At home, tape had to be stuck on any glass windows or doors, and black out curtains fitted so that no light could be seen from outside’.
“Old Mr. Mills, was made an Air Raid Warden, he would patrol our area at night and if he saw so much as a chink of light he would be knocking at the door. Anyone ignoring his warnings would be summonsed, and face a fine’.
“Farmers and factory workers, stayed in their jobs. Any other men were called up to the armed services. Most young men were eager to volunteer’.
“Women joined the WVS—Women’s Voluntary Service, and took jobs in all sorts of trades, even driving buses and lorries. Girls, 17 and over joined The Land Army to help the farmers”. She took another sip of her ‘Sherry’ and sat. back to listen to my version of that day.
“I was walking home from school, with my friend Teddy Bolton, when we saw a crowd of women all talking excitedly, Teddy took one look at the crowd and said’.
“That looks like trouble, lets run round Mrs Jenkin’s house, to see if Sykey is there’.
“That’s the sort of life Teddy had, he was always avoiding grown-ups. I don’t know why we were running. We hadn’t done anything wrong—but you never know with Teddy’.
“At the top of Sykey’s road was another crowd,
realising it was not Teddy who they were after, we joined the crowd’.
“Sykey came up and told us that there was a war on with Germany again.
His dad told him it would all be over in a couple months, maybe even before Christmas”.
She took another sip of Sherry and wiped a tear from her eye as it all came back.
“Yes, we all thought that”. She said.
“Iris, do you remember, you and Joe, taking me to the pictures? The queue was all the way round Bell corner to the car park. When we came out, another queue was waiting even longer. It was very dark, no street lights of course, we were all very quiet, we had just seen the Pathe Newsreel about Barcelona; The town had been bombed by the Germans, and lots of people had been killed. I think we all thought this was going to happen to us.