As a child I loved listening to grown-ups talking, I suppose some would say I was just a nosy kid, they would probably be right. Our kitchen was a good hunting ground for this little hobby of mine. There was always someone around with a bit of gossip about that Mrs so-and-so up the top of the town—that is the posh bit of Chertsey and things seemed to be going on all the time up there.
I noticed when-ever the subject was a bit naughty it would either be said behind a hand or with ‘gum-talk’—moving the lips without uttering a word, a sort of mute button. Another thing they would do is not say the proper word, it was all ‘thingy-me-bob’ his ‘whatsit’ or some such thing. It took me quite a while to be understand what the hell they were talking about. Then there were the ‘sayings’ such as, ‘There’s no smoke without fire’ or ‘She is all curtains and no knickers’, there seemed to be a competition to see who could come up with the most fitting expression.
I don’t know if it was the urgency of being at war, but also in Chertsey every sentence seemed to be shortened to just three or four words, and the one that I remember most of all was ‘Just in case’, we were told to ‘Carry our gas masks at all times—just in case’, or ‘Don’t talk to strangers—just in case’, these three words would be added to anything!
On this day I came home from school and there were the ladies all having a cup of tea, as I walked in the kitchen the talking stopped abruptly, and my mother gave me a clip around the ear—this was not any sort of punishment, more affectionate you could say, she always did it, almost like a greeting. If ever I asked what was that for, she would say…………. ‘Just in case’.