Chertsey Tales Part three.
The one-eyed Raven that I remember in 1940, was called ‘Bran’. He wasn’t a real bird at all, but in a dream…while I was buried under the front wall of our house.
But, perhaps at first, I should write about a day almost a year earlier. I was the same age as Deni, just seven and a half. It was ‘The day war broke out.’
Teddy Bolton, like the rest of our gang ‘The Cowley Avenue Apaches’, has a nickname, Thunder Bolton! It’s just right for him he is just like a thunderbolt, you never know what to expect! But he’s very kind, always sharing what-ever he has, a packet of crisps or sometimes a Mars bar—a whole one! The trouble is you don’t know where they came from!
Life with Thunder is what you might call interesting, always avoiding grown-ups for some reason or another. Mum says I should stop going around with him since that fire in Mr Stanford’s fields.
Today our gang are in the top field near Monks Walk in St Annes Hill. It’s our favourite place to play about. There is a little spring that trickles up out of some pebbles on the edge of the woods. The water is very clear and cold, lovely to have a drink from on a hot day.
It is a funny little place, it’s more of a clearing cut into the woods. Some people say it is haunted, but most of the hill has a story about ghosts. There is even a haunted house at the bottom of the field in Thorpe Road.
The farmer never bothers with such a small patch and the grass grows nice and long. We’ve been looking for blackberries but we’re too late, most have been picked already.
We lay down in the long grass and watch the clouds as they float by, it’s surprising what you can see if you look long enough.
Goldilocks (Tony Rees), who is a bit of a sissy really, comes out with all sorts of things, he does make us laugh sometimes, he says.
‘I wonder if heaven is like this?’
Mind you, could it be? I ask you,
We hear Nutsan Bolton shouting (Thunders brother) he has found a big bramble a bit further down the field. He says it’s loaded with blackberries.
They are a bit over ripe and there are a few maggots on them. Wadie says they are the tastiest once you wash the maggots off. We have to be careful though, because there is a lot of barbed wire in the bush, and old fence posts.
As we walk home down Chilsey Green Road we pass Stanford’s Fields and look over the hedge at the Willow tree that the fire brigade had to put out. There’s not much left of it and the trees nearby are badly scorched. It’s a wonder we haven’t been found out because everyone knows we did it.
We are near the triangle at the top of Cowley Avenue, and we see a crowd of people, they seem very excited about something. Thunder says.
‘I don’t like the look of this, let’s get out of here.’
We run up Lasswade Road and there’s groups of people everywhere, we can’t hear what they were saying though. It is all very odd. We reach the top of Lasswade road and there is a bigger crowd. We see Siki Balchin.
‘There’s a war on’ he shouts, ‘We’ve declared war on Germany.’