Seventy seven years ago, my mum is doing her best to make me look respectable, today is our schools Christmas party. She stands back to admire her handy work, but I can see by the look on her face, that all is not well.
Here I am, a twelve-year-old boy, nearly six-foot-tall and weighing 9 stone, I am wearing short trousers that are much too long, and my sisters Land Army jumper that is too big, nothing seems to hang properly.
“Alan, do you have to stand like that”?
“I don’t know any other way mum.”
“Pull your shoulders back and take your hands out of your pockets for goodness sake.’
I try to do as she asks but it’s no good, even if I had a ‘Fifty Shilling Suit’ from Kingston I would still look like a sack of potatoes, and now to make things worse, ‘Thunder’ Bolton is at the door and looking really smart. On top of everything, and right in front of him, she spits on a hanky and gives my face a final wipe.
I am so glad to get to school, This Christmas we are very lucky to have American soldiers stationed nearby, they have given us the best Christmas dinner ever. The chief cook at the American base, is very friendly with Mrs Edwards and has given the school turkey and ham and lots of sweets. He has also lent us a juke box with lots of jazz records.
This was the first time I had ever heard Dixieland music, but the older evacuees from London knew it already and were jigging about in the dinner queue to a song called ‘The Jersey Bounce’.
Although I am only twelve, I have begun to realise that some of these London girls were very nice to look at. One that caught my eye was a girl called June Hutchinson, but she was in the top class and so I had nothing to do with her.
Like a lot of the children from London she had a nickname: Jersey Bounce Hutchinson.
She was a very popular girl, but she had a very odd way of walking.
We are all boys on our table, and there is such a racket as we dive into our dinner,
then, suddenly it all goes’ quiet, I look up, to see what is going on.
And there she is, the lovely June Hutchinson, arriving late, and walking down the hall like a film star, as if she has springs in her shoes
She is wearing a fluffy woollen jumper, which seems to have something hidden inside, a small rabbit perhaps, or possibly two, for as she judders toward me, everything about her is moving so fast, I don’t know where to look first.
After all these years, I now realise her nickname; ‘Jersey Bounce, Hutchinson’ was nothing to do with her love of Dixie-land music.