35.Sweet nothings.

Last week, in our school we had the most disgusting pudding. Who ever heard of a vegetable like a swede being boiled until it is soft and sloshy, then flavoured with banana? This is what we got for pudding today, banana fritters without any banana. The war really is getting serious even sweets are vanishing from the shops, even though they are not rationed yet. 

Wadie gave me some nice sweets yesterday though, they were in a little round tin, they were called ‘Zubes’. He said he bought them from the chemists on the corner of Station Road and Guildford Street—Wadie is the sort of boy who knows a thing or two.

 “They have lots of this sort of thing in the chemists, they’re called cough sweets, so as well as tasting nice they’re good for you. If you know where to look Wegsy, you can get anything, like In Mrs. Froud’s shop, you know, next to the ‘The Bell’. She’s got lots of sweets in the back room, they are a bit old and sticky though. If you want some, you better get a move on”.

 Mrs Froud, who was very old, always sits in the corner of the shop and would have to ask you to break the slab of toffee with a little brass hammer, it was so hard to eat you have to suck it for before daring to bite it. I left it too late of course, the shop had been cleaned out. All that was left on the counter was the hammer and some crumbs of toffee and little square tins of ‘Nippits’. These are tiny bits of liquorice about the size of tea leaves. They are meant for people who smoke, to clean their breath, not meant for kids at all, but they’re better than nothing and they last for quite a long time because they stick to your teeth. 

Whenever there was a mention of a sweet’s delivery, kids from all over the town would fill the shop. It was becoming a serious problem. Even ‘Woolworths’ were selling fake bananas. They were really just large, dried bean skins. There were sticks of wood flavoured with aniseed or liquorice—I think they were roots of something or other. Theses had to be sucked to get any flavour from them, then they became horrible and stringy and stuck between your teeth. 

Today at dinner time, Miss Slaughter, told us what to do while we were eating our dinner.

“It’s never good to rush your dinner, what you must do now, instead of putting your knife and fork down between mouthfuls. You must keep them in your hand, ready for the next forkful, then we will all be finished more quickly.”

I looked at Goldilocks, he pointed at his empty plate. Like me, he had finished his dinner as soon as he sat down, our knife and fork never left our hands once we started.

Author: madeinchertsey

Born in 1932, this is a collection of stories of my childhood growing up in Chertsey, and some stories of my later life.

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