53. Chertsey Boy.

January 1945.

Christmas has been and gone, it was a very quiet affair, Mrs O’Keefe and Dennis had gone back to London a few months ago, we miss her gusty singing, and mum will miss the money she gave us. I will always remember her, she was such a lovely woman with her cockney humour. The good thing about rationing is at least mum can afford to buy the small amounts, and even a bar of blended chocolate now and again, Iris says it’s not as nice as Cadburys full milk, I can’t remember what that tastes like.

Although the Germans must be nearly beaten, the war is still the main feature of the Pathe Newsreel, we also see how nasty they and the Japanese can be. Doodlebugs are now coming over the North Sea and not reaching our part of the country. The V2’s can reach anywhere though, but we only had one that fell in the meads.

 Don is fourteen and has started his first proper job as a carpenter’s mate. By the time he pays a half crown into a tool club and his bus fare to Byfleet, he hardly brings home any more money than he did as a delivery boy at the age of twelve. He has always been good at woodwork and already had some chisels and a Stanley smoothing plane—which I am never allowed to touch. At least he will learn to be a tradesman and earn a good wage. Mr Tarrant, the boss of the firm soon gave Don a rise when he realised, he could do as good a job as any man. Later in life my brother managed Long and Humphrey’s iron mongers in Guildford Street for years, everyone knew Don, he was a real Chertsey boy.

Woodwork seemed to be in our blood—well at least it was in Dons blood—as for me it was more like a twig that floated in Dummies stream, one second making a splash and the next caught up in a dam of twigs. Don could use the tools without thinking, almost as if it was second nature—the mark of a future craftsman. The only time I was allowed to use any of his tools, disaster struck, his little Stanley block plane broke into pieces as I was using it. I thought he would be angry, but he wasn’t.

I am doing more deliveries and I asked for a rise, Mr Perring said he would ask his boss but didn’t think I would be lucky. Last Saturday it poured with rain, and I had so many boxes of spaghetti to drop off, they were piled up on the front basket so high I could hardly see over the top. I got soaked and the boxes started coming undone and the spaghetti got soaked as well. I had to get off the bike to push it over Hatch Hill, but the wet boxes were so heavy that the bike kept tilting forward and some boxes fell off, I was in right state. There are some big families of Italians in Green Lane, they seem to eat a lot of spaghetti. 

This Saturday the weather is quite mild and I can ride the bike to Addlestone as if it was nearly summer. My deliveries take most of the day and for once I got some nice tips. I think the nice weather and the better news is making people look forward to the end of the war, and they are feeling generous. But the next few months are going to be very hard for mum with such a small amount of money coming in, I start to give mum all my Bargain Centre wages, but keeping the tips made up for it.  

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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