Chertsey tales Part Ten.
We make our tea and I hear mum talking to Don, I hide in the scullery until they stop talking. Mum is talking very softly, I can hardly hear.
‘A man was being very rude to your sister and her friends, and we had to tell the policeman what had happened. So, if a man that you don’t know offers you a sweet or something, you mustn’t take it, but not all men are nasty like the one Chrissy saw up the hill.’
Don looks over to me shaking his head and putting his finger to his lips.
I’m only little, I don’t know what’s going on.
Later, Don tells me everything, he whispers behind his hand.
‘If you tell anyone about that man up the hill, we won’t be allowed to go up there again. You have to be careful what you say, otherwise you’ll spoil everything.’
There are so many things I have to be careful of now, at school I am told of all the things I mustn’t do. Next, I bet they’ll stop the game that is going round, saying it is too rude. It is a bit rude, but it is funny. The game is seeing a grown-up as an animal, we all do it.
With our teachers lined up in front of us in the morning, it’s like Noah’s Ark. Miss James with her nice round face and big eyes looks just like one of Mr. Stanford’s cows. Mr Jackson with his long neck and long eye lashes has to be a Giraffe. The teachers must wonder what is so funny when we get a fit of the giggles.
I look at the teachers, they all look like nice people just like the man up the hill, how would I know if one was nasty like the one Chrissie saw. There’s Mr Izzi in his shop, he sometimes gives me a broken cornet with a little bit of ice cream, and what about Mr Denyer? Mum is very friendly with everyone. I just don’t know what to think.
Mum likes to shop in Denyer’s because everything is freshly prepared, but it takes so long to do the little bit of shopping on the list.
As soon as I step down onto the sawdust covered floor, the smell of the horrible looking cheeses makes me hold my nose. I wonder who thought it was a good idea to eat such a smelly thing, just suppose that it tasted horrible. The funny looking sausages hanging up are another thing I would never eat; I have only just got used to that stuff called Spam
Mr Denyer takes down a big piece of ham that is hanging from a beam, he sees me and says.
‘Hello young smiler, how’s your mummy?’
He always calls me smiler and sometimes tickles my ear. I join the queue of ladies; they don’t sound very happy. We watch him cutting the ham on a big red and silver thing, he turns the handle and there’s a swishing sound and a thin slice of ham peels away into a little pile. He gives me some little scraps on a piece of white paper, they smell lovely, a bit like smoke.
I remember what mum said, but I know he is not one of the nasty men, so I gobble up the ham quickly.
Mr Denyer is a short tubby man, he is wearing a black overall that is all dusty, it nearly touches the floor, on top of this is a white apron, it’s got some dirty marks on it where he wipes his hands. He waddles around the counter, and straight away, I see the animal he reminds me of.
Poor Mr. Denyer, he really does look just like a penguin.
He starts to do some of his freshly prepared stuff. He takes some butter from a wooden urn. Then he knocks it about between two wooden bats until it looks like a pack of butter. We could buy it already wrapped from Mr. Izzi’s shop, but that’s Denyer’s for you, everything is freshly prepared.
It’s worth doing the shopping in Denyer’s, just for the show. Seeing a man who looks like a penguin, slapping a lump of butter about between two bats is something well worth waiting in the queue for. He proudly holds the pack of butter up for all to see.
‘Now then ladies this is the last time I’ll be able to do this for you, after Christmas, butter will be on the ration.’
He holds a matchbox up.
‘This is the size of two ounces of butter—your ration for a whole week.’
The ladies start moaning again but I don’t care, I never liked butter.
When I get home the policeman is talking to mum again, I stay in the scullery in case I give the game away.