Chertsey Tales Part Twenty-eight.
It is early for me to be up and dressed, Iris and Bernard have already left for work, Mum, and my brother Don are still fast asleep under the Morrison shelter. Sadly the bomb caused Mum to have a breakdown, and she is still very unwell. Mrs. O’Keefe is in the kitchen, they stayed in our house while all the repairs were being carried out—Londoner’s; they are so tough. She comes in with a big pile of washing—she never stops talking.
‘Let’s put some music on, shall we? I like some music while I work.’
The wireless is an ‘Ultra’ it’s very clear, I can hear every little sound, probably because it has no cover, Dad was going to put it into a nice cabinet, but now it just sits on its base, I love watching the valves glowing, it’s like magic. I wonder how anyone thought of such a thing, there were no books then to tell you how to make one, and you can’t see radio waves or what-ever they call them.
I hear the old alarm clock, it is starting to whirr, as if it is gathering itself ready to ring the bell, but there is no bell to ring, the poor old clock has never been the same since the bomb, then it just gives up. I sometimes think that the wireless and the old clock are living things.
‘Alan, there goes the Lagonda hooter, it’s eight o’clock already, but just look at your mum’s old clock, no bell, no glass and it’s always wrong, no one ever knows what the time is.’
‘Well, Mrs ‘O’, it’s a wonder it works at all, after being blown out of the window with the rest of the stuff on the dresser.’
‘Anyway, it’s easy to tell the time, all you have to remember, is that mum puts the clock ten minutes fast at the nine o’clock news every night, because that’s how much it loses every day. Do you want me to tell you how to work it out?’
She looks over her thick glasses with a tired look, I think she knows what’s coming. I start to explain how to work it out, but I think I have lost her.
‘Bloody top me, it’s no wonder every-one’s late in this house, if they have to do that all the time.’
I begin to tell her that it’s not a problem for them as they always leave twenty minutes early just in case. There are times when you start to say something and then wish you hadn’t, but you can’t stop yourself. This was such a time. She leans forward resting her hands on to the table, she’s now looking very weary…I think she has lost the will to live.
‘Do you know, Alan, I really think I would be safer back in London than in this crazy house.’
The Lagonda hooter fades away, its quiet at last, just the sound of the crackling wood in the copper and the bubbling washing. I like the smell of washday it’s one of my favourites.
‘Thank goodness that hooters stopped, now I can listen to the wireless, it’s got such a lovely tone. Oh no! now the silly thing is fading, just when I was listening to that Anne Shelton.’ ‘That is something you can do for me Alan, just take the accumulator down to Mr. Hyde, it only costs tuppence to charge it up again. The poor man, he’s got such a bad habit, jerks his head all over the place, maybe it’s all that electric stuff he deals with.’