‘Made in Chertsey’ is a fictionalised account based on true events. Most of the people in these stories have passed away. I have used their names to show how important they were to my family in the darkest of days, without them I doubt whether I would have lived to tell the tale.
My stories are of children growing up in Chertsey, an old town in Surrey.They take place in the nineteen thirties and forties. Some stories are not even mine; they could be called family stories or even a saga if that’s not too lofty. I will say at the beginning of any story if it belongs to someone else.
“He’ doesn’t say a lot, does he”? I would hear them say—fortunately they never knew what I was thinking.
I may have been very late in talking but thinking came early. I suppose being child number six there was nothing much for me to say. This suited me fine, I could live in my own little world—even with my own special language that only my brother Donald could understand. The trouble began when I did start to speak the Kings English and was happily sharing my make-believe world with anyone who cared to listen. I could tell a story so convincingly that it had to be believed. My mother got tired of being questioned by the school about the stories I would tell, and told me I had to stop it. I did what she said, and I became a listener.
Eighty years later, all that listening has come in handy, I started writing stories. The book, ‘Made in Chertsey’ was born—although stillborn would be more accurate, I had never written a story before, and had ‘writer’s block’ without penning a single word. Luckily a friend, Giovanna Iozzi, who is a published author and a writing teacher, said.
“Write about anything, you were a child during the war, you must have lots of memories to share.
She was right, lots of things did happen during the war and I can remember most of them, but my stories are pale compared with the story given to me by my sister Iris. As soon as I mentioned that I had a new hobby and didn’t know where to start, she said.
“You could be the one to pass on something that was rarely talked about at home”.
The story she referred to was of a family tragedy, it happened when I was a baby before I had a memory. I had heard it mentioned later, but not in any detail. It is a harrowing story, and as Iris was an eleven-year-old child at the time, she could not have known everything that was happening around her, and there were many gaps in her story. I have filled these gaps with some of my memories of growing up in Chertsey.