E Book,The Story of Eric, April 12th 2020.
Some of you may recognise this story I posted some time ago, which took place around 1940. There is a similarity with the fear of food shortages, that people were having a few weeks ago. There was no panic buying of course, no one could afford to do so.
(I have also pinched an old Jewish joke and added to the end of the story, but the rest of the story is completely true).
Anyway, it took a different form of panic, because our rations were so meagre, pets such as cats and dogs were abandoned, as it was difficult to feed them.
It was common to see a poor dog roaming the streets looking for food and a friendly face.
One of these poor creatures, a little Jack Russell, adopted our home; he just sat on our doorstep until my mum let him in.
He had a little tag on his collar with the name ‘DICK’ on it.
Now, although we were a big family, living in a poor area of Chertsey, my mum tried to keep up her standards, this meant absolutely no swearing, and to have something called ‘DICK’ roaming the house was just too much for her to bear.
In fact, any word that even sounded like a rude one would have a more proper alternative.
For instance, we would not be allowed to say ‘FART” it would instead be, ‘BLOWOFF’ or ’LET OFF ‘and such as that. Even now I am uneasy about saying this forbidden word.
We couldn’t even say,” I want to do a number two”, mum would cut you short by wagging her finger and say, “Ah– ah”.
From then on, instead of saying ‘I want to do a number two’, we would say “I want to do an Ah–ah”. It became very complicated.
So, ‘Dick’, our little Jack Russell was renamed ‘Eric’, it probably sounded the same to him anyway.
Besides these rules for naughty words, my mother had a problem with tangling her word’s, she hardly ever remembered the our right name, in a family of six that could be quite confusing.
For instance, and for a reason I could never understand, I was called Trevor for weeks on end and then she would revert to my proper name, Alan—I later found out that we once had a cat called Trevor!
Eric was in a very poor condition and continually scratching himself.
We looked to see if he had fleas or something like that, but all that could be seen was a bare patch where he had removed some fur from his belly.
Going to a vet was out of the question as it was a bus ride away in Addlestone, but luckily our doctor was quite willing to give advice if needed, but could not actually treat the animal.
We put Eric in a shopping basket with an old jersey covering him to keep him warm and joined the queue outside Doctor Ward’s surgery.
No one in our road had a phone to make an appointment, so all you had to do was to take the chair nearest the door and as each person was seen, we moved along to the next chair until we were shown into the surgery.
It was not unlike musical chairs, but without any music.
Doctor ward smiled as he saw my mum, he had been our doctor for ages and had delivered most of our family. My mum had also been an unofficial midwife to most of our neighbours, along with Mrs Wade.
I held the shopping basket up so that the doctor could see Eric, but he didn’t look in it.
“Hello Ethel, what can I do for you today”.
“Doctor, could you look at my little Jack Russell, it has a nasty itch”
Now the doctor was well aware of my mum’s aversion to rude words, and also mixing up her words.
I saw him look at her intently, trying to work out what on earth she was talking about, then he smiled as the penny dropped..
“Your little Jack Russell’, yes of course Ethel, I know just what you mean”.
( Joke coming)
Still smiling, he took a jar of ointment from his cabinet and said, “Here we are Ethel, just rub this on your ‘Little Jack Russell’ twice a day and don’t ride your bike for fortnight”.