Our family have never had much time for birthdays, I suppose in big family’s they come round so often it’s no longer a reason for a party—or maybe mum was too busy trying to make ends meet. Whatever it was, I did think becoming a teenager was a bit special. But I have to own up, it was more than a week before even I knew I was thirteen. It gave mum a bit of a surprise too, when I told her.
“Whaaaat!! you can’t be”.
She just looked at me as if I was telling her another of my stories, I started to think that I have got it wrong, so I said.
“Nineteen thirty-two, is the year I was born and now it’s nineteen forty-five, that makes me thirteen, I’m a teenager mum, and in another four years I can join the Royal Navy, like Owen Hyde did”.
This was not the best thing to say by any means, one minute she was laughing about forgetting my birthday, and the next she had a worried look on her face.
“Don’t you joke about such a thing Alan; they are saying it will be all over soon and they won’t want anyone. Anyway, by that time we won’t have a need for a Navy for you to join, so there”.
Mum is probably right, everyone is saying the German’s are being beaten on all fronts, but according to the nine O’clock news, they are killing hundreds of people as they are retreating. The terrible rumours that we heard a few weeks ago about the concentration camps are now to be seen on the newsreel. It showed big bundles of human hair, they weighed more than three tons, how many heads would that amount of hair come from? the Russians were the first to free these poor people, it’s hard to believe such things could happen. I heard Mrs Salmon saying this could have been us if the Germans had invaded, she said.
“We are counting our chickens too early, we are still having doodlebugs and rockets coming over, and you never know what other things they have up their sleeves, there’s always gas, like they used in the last war, and we have still got those Japanese to beat yet”.
Mrs Salmon may be right, but the kids in Barker Road are starting to build a big bonfire, the council keep taking it away as it’s blocking the road. Deirdre has been given a house very near to were to the bonfire will be, she’s got a little baby and is not very happy about all the noise.
We are having our bonfire at the top of Cowley Avenue and are going up the hill every day to collect as much wood as we can, we put it with all the other stuff in everyone’s front garden, and then it’s going to be made into one big fire, it’s a race to see who will have the biggest fire on the last day of the war. They say Mr Chase who owns a couple of factories in Chertsey is going to have a big party up the ‘rec and anyone can go. There’s going to be all sorts of things happening, it’s going to be amazing, I hope it is very soon.
Last week the Land Army sent Chrissy to work on a farm in Guildford, she can come home at weekends now. We could all be together if Bernard was in England, it’s been ages since we heard from him, mum says ‘no news is good news’. I’m not so sure, the last letter we had from him was when he was in hospital and about to be sent back to fight somewhere, that was three months ago.
Although Iris is married, she is very friendly with a man she works with, and he comes round our house before they go up to the Golden Grove. Mum says she got married too quickly, and now regrets it, I don’t know what will happen when her husband comes home. Everyone says there are going to be a lot of upsets when all the soldiers come back, five years apart is a long time for both husband and wife. War is such a monster.
Of all the years that we were being bombed, almost starved, and terrified by Hitlers V 1’s and V 2’s, nineteen forty-five must be the worst of them all. We are so near to the end of the war, could it still go wrong at the last minute. I can’t help thinking about Mrs Salmon’s words.
Is it too early to be counting our chickens?