A bomb crater has been found in the corner of Lyne fields; nobody knew about it until Mr Stanford was clearing the area of brambles. It has made quite a small crater for a bomb, and all the kids were searching for shrapnel. It’s like a magnet, there have been no bombs falling in Chertsey for ages. Now the kids come from all around the town. I’m not interested in collecting the stuff, I leave it for Donald and Kenny, they have lots of it and they swop it with other boys as if it is stamp collecting. Saturday morning is the day we help mum, so Don has to give shrapnel collecting a miss this time.
I have finished putting some white Blanco on my plimsoles. It’s a bit pointless as they are completely worn out. I have no idea why I do this every weekend, white tennis plimsoles seem out of place with the rest of my clothes.
Don is in the garden, he is very good at growing things, peas, and beans and even some onions. We all do something to help mum on a Saturday—she works all the rest of the week doing other people’s housework. My job is putting the washing through the mangle and hanging it on the line. My white plimsoles hang by the laces on the post, they will be dry in no time with this hot sun. I go into the kitchen with a bowl of peas from the garden and start to shell them. Helping mum at the weekend is the only time I have her to myself, we talk about all sorts of things.
I say something as I walk into the kitchen that a boy of ten should never be heard to say. It sounds more like something a housewife would say to a neighbour over the fence. But I can’t stop myself from saying it, it makes my mum laugh out loud—which isn’t a bad thing.
“It’s a lovely day for drying, isn’t it”?
She leans forward with her hands deep in the soapy water and just shakes with laughter, I wish I could see her laugh like this more often.
I had noticed she had seemed a bit odd earlier this morning, she kept looking over her shoulder at me while she was doing the washing. Now she is drying her hands and looking at me more seriously, I am wondering, now what have I done.
“Trevor,” she said in a quiet voice.
For some reason, I have never quite understood, my mother sometimes calls me ‘Trevor’. I can understand when she calls me by my brother’s names, Don, or Bernard, it happens all the time, but Trevor— we haven’t got any Trevor’s in the family.
“Trevor”. she says, “I know you like helping me with the washing, but boys of your age should be doing more boyish things, like helping your brother in the garden”.
She looks straight at me, and I wonder what she is going to say next.
“Do you have a girlfriend”?
“Of course, I do, lots of them”.
“No, I mean a special one that you really like”.
“No, not really, I have a special boy-friend though, Dave”.
She keeps looking at me for quite a long time, then very quietly says.
“Have they told you about the birds and bees at school yet”?
Oh, I thought, not that old rubbish, Dave reckoned it can’t be true, you have only to look at the size of a bee, compared to that of a bird, even a little Wren. They will tell you anything old rubbish at school.
“Miss Weller, one of our new teachers, did start to explain it to us, but Laurie Zubiena kept interrupting her and asking lots of questions. Then she started to cry, I don’t think she is old enough to be a teacher she’s always crying. Mrs. Ayres had to take over the class, anyway Don has told me all about it”.
“Did he now, and what did your brother tell you”?
“He said they were delivered by a stork”.
“Wait till I see him, he’s always telling you stories, babies are not delivered by a stork”.
She gives a long sigh. “Put the kettle on and let’s have nice cup of tea”.
She says this, as if it was no good going on. I know I am a bit backward, but I just knew Don’s story about the stork was total rubbish. The trouble I am having now though, is where do all these blooming babies come from? There does seem to be a lot of them about in Chertsey.