As I was going through my stories last night, I realised that some people will form the opinion that I was a rather odd little boy. I suppose that could be true. No one is perfect.
Mind you, there are people who would love to have a 20 inch waist and 33 inch inside leg—but probably not at the age of nine. Another of my physical features that could be less desirable for the ladies. Was that my hips and chest were not that much bigger than my waist—not so much an hour glass figure but more that of a test tube.
But in my own mind I was pretty good; slim and wiry like a greyhound, with only enough muscle needed to function as a super fit athlete. Some one like Jesse Owen, the American Olympic Champion who upset Hitler by winning so many medals.
I have just had my haircut at Mr. Norris’ the barber. My mother has given me sixpence and she said I must bring any change back, I normally buy an ice-cream, but lately I think she is a bit hard up.
As I crossed the road at Bell Corner, I saw this rather odd-looking person in the glass door of Stotts, the ladies outfitters. It took me a moment to realise it was my own reflection—it was the first time I had seen myself in a full-size mirror. We have looking glasses at home, as they are called, but these are just the remains of a large looking glass that was broken in the bombing.
As I got closer the reflection was further distorted by the anti- blast paper that was stuck on the glass door window in a criss-cross pattern.
I stood in front of the door, to see what my haircut looked like. I move up and down and from side to side so that I could see the parts of my body that are otherwise hidden by the gummed paper. I am shocked at what I see, I had no idea that this is what I look like.
In my mind’s eye. I was this young Tarzan figure with just a loin cloth, loping through the undergrowth of Pyrcroft road. Effortlessly swinging from hanging vine to hanging vine. At one with nature and all the animals, sometimes even giving an occasional Tarzan call.
Now, instead, I was looking at this lanky, knock-kneed kid with grubby short grey flannel trousers. I was so skinny that my jersey was just hanging off my shoulders. My trousers were also a size too big and were well below my knees doing nothing to enhance the total lack of any muscle on his legs. My mother always thought we should grow into clothes rather than grow out of them—they wore out before this ever happened though.
Out of the corner my eye I see what looks like a pair of super-sized ladies bloomers twitching in the main shop—whoever thought of using an enormous pair of ladies knickers as the curtains for the changing room was a total genius.
Suddenly the bloomers parted and in what seemed a completely unwarranted expression—as if she had just chewed a wasp—as my mum would say. I couldn’t quite read her lips, but I don’t think it was very nice.
These few moments were to change my life, no more Tarzan fantasies, instead I set my mind on self-improvement. First of all my round shoulders and of course the knock knees had to go. This was surprisingly easy to do apart from trying to push my knees apart to stop them touching.
I would now proudly stride down the town with a feeling that I had changed my image.
Or so I thought.
I was passing Pippernells Izzi’s ice cream shop in Pyrcroft road, when I spotted Mrs. Mant. She was at her gate talking to the lady next-door, they were both wearing identical pinafores and turbans, probably bought from Miss Stotts. I vaguely wondered about their bloomers as well.
They were both standing with their arms folded, a fag hanging from their lips, I could see by the jerky movements of the cigarettes that they were busy putting the world to rights.
I thought here is my chance to show off my new walk, I straightened up with arms swinging. The trouble was that I had not yet perfected the ‘knee thing’, and this caused me to walk in a rather odd way.
Since the bomb, I still had my very acute hearing, and as I neared the two ladies, I heard one say.
“Oh dear oh dear, look, what’s coming down the road, that poor Mrs. Waglin as if she doesn’t have enough to put up with already”.
Mrs. Mant replied, “Yes it’s such a shame, they say there is always one in every family”.
They kept stock still as I marched past, their fags now just hanging motionless, only their eyes following me up the road, then they started giggling.
I don’t think that is very nice of them, but my new walk has made me keep my shoulders back and the stoop has gone, and I am feeling good about myself again
The only thing is, that I am now quite bandy!