1940, A year to forget.
Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat.
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny a ha-penny will do.
If you haven’t got a ha-penny god bless you.
I don’t think there will be a goose in our house this year, not that there ever was, we would be lucky to have anything.
This Christmas is going to be a bit strange, Deirdre is now living in Scotland with her new husband, Gordon. He is in the Airforce. That means Deirdre’s wage will be missed.
Not only that, but Fred can’t do much work because of a chest problem.
It was during the months that we were evacuated to my Gran’s house, that Fred was taken ill. He thought it was the dust from the bombing. After an X-Ray, Fred was told he had TB and was in and out of hospital. We were checked as well.
A few days later, Doctor Dudley Ward, came around see us. He was quite short and round, dressed in pin striped trousers and a black jacket. He looked very posh.
“Sit down, Ethel, I need to tell you something, now don’t worry, it’s just something that we have to do”.
“Is it about Fred”?
“No, it’s not about Fred, he is in a safe place”.
He asked Don to go for Mrs Salmon and for me to put the kettle on.
As we waited for Mrs. Salmon to arrive, he kept sniffing as if he was trying to smell what was cooking—there was nothing in the oven, our house always had a smell as if something was cooking.
I couldn’t take my eyes off him, I have never seen anyone so posh. I followed his eyes as he looked around the room—after the bomb damage repairs, even I could see it already looked a bit of a jumble.
I saw him rest his hand on the table—actually it was the Morrison shelter—his fingers were pink with shiny nails, he quickly removed it when he felt the sticky surface. The table was covered with ‘lino’, usually this was a floor covering, but we had it as a long-lasting table cloth, it can get a bit tacky after a while.
Mum was looking more and more worried, but he still didn’t say anything, he just kept looking around, waiting for Mrs. Salmon.
He glanced up to the hissing, broken gas mantle—we had electric light but mum preferred the gas lighting.
Then the fly encrusted fly paper hanging next to it, caught his eye. Flies were able to land and take off at will—all the sticky bits were already fully occupied.
The kettle had hardly boiled, when the enormous Mrs. Salmon heaved through the front door.
“Now then, what’s all the fuss about, is it about the baby”?
Doctor Ward wanted Mrs. Salmon to be with my Mum before he told her what had to be done, he straightened up and said.
“No, the baby is very well, it’s little David, we need to talk about, he is under weight, and we need to build him up. This means he must go to a home for a while, where he will have the best treatment to make him strong again”.
Everything stopped for a moment, then Mrs Salmon said.
“Thank God for that, I thought it was something serious, there you are Effie, there’s nothing to worry about, he will be home before you know it”.
The Doctor went the kitchen sink to wash his hands, then seemed to change his mind.
He didn’t drink his tea either, and left, he seemed to be in a hurry.
Mum looked relieved, then Mrs. Salmon read the tea leaves in mum’s cup and said.
“Look Effie, now that’s what I call a good luck sign, everything is going to be alright”.
Once again Mrs. Salmon’s tea leaves were wrong, David was away for years. The hospital that he stayed in, was for children with TB, but he did make a full recovery, so she was half right”.
David was only three years old, he didn’t look ill, but the Xray showed he had the same disease as Fred, but our Xrays were clear.
This left Iris as the only real wage earner, Mum couldn’t work because of our new baby, so we were in trouble again. Luckily Iris was earning a good wage, she worked in the Vickers Super Marine factory in London Street making ‘drop-tanks’ for Spitfires.
As well as earning good money, she really enjoyed the job, she had only worked as a scullery maid in Weybridge since leaving school. But now she worked with a couple of her friends Florry Pendry from Church walk and Betty Smith from Frithwald. She would come home with some very funny jokes that the workmen would tell her. I think she was the only one enjoying the war.
Christmas came and it was really nice , we had a full Christmas stocking—mainly nuts and sweets and a real tangerine. Bernard’s friend, Tommy Hiscocks from Addlestone gave me and Don a pair of roller skates to share, but we never did share them, we each just whizzed around on one skate, we were quite good at it too.