I have heard it said that a person changes every seven years, well it happened to me. But because I had a slow start my change didn’t come until I was eight. This was the age when I learned to read. You would have thought that my mother would be thrilled that at last, I had caught up with the other kids—I suppose it is quite nice when your four year old child learns to read and then reads every word out loud where ever it is seen. But when I did this it was very different. I think I may have overdone it though, because the rest of my family kept telling me to shut up. And even at the breakfast table when I was reading the Shredded Wheat packet quietly, my mother said in a rather fed up.way.
“Alan, I can still see your lips moving”.
Now, I thought this was rather harsh coming from my mother, who conducted most of her conversations with Mrs. Salmon without making a sound, just moving her lips—gum talk we called it.
Now that I could read ‘The Daily Herald’, it made me realise the war was not going very well. There were so many of our ships going down and hundreds of sailors losing their lives, and the bombing had started up again all over the country. It seemed as if the air and sea are full of the enemy, the U boats hunting in packs and the bombers were once again filling the sky.
Stories were going around Chertsey about local families losing a son or a father somewhere over seas, and even at home in Chertsey a family lost their father, he was a fireman who was killed by a high-pressure fire hose that he lost control of while fighting a fire.
Kids at school grew up very quickly, we became experts on how good the German Tiger tanks were compared to ours and even the German Me 109 fighter plane was at least the equal of our planes.
Then there was a glimmer of hope in the Headlines of the newspapers, Adolf Hitler had decided to invade Russia, this meant fewer raids on England as he took most of his army to fight them. Most people were saying that he has gone too far and now the war would soon come to an end—it didn’t though.
I soon went back to reading the ‘Shredded Wheat’ packet, but no one thought it was at all interesting that our Green Line coach used to start from the Carpenters Arms, in Chertsey on the long journey through London to Welwyn Garden City, where they made ‘Shredded Wheat’.