Chertsey Tales Part twenty-nine.
The alarm clock is not the only thing that is not working very well, since the bomb I’ve got that winky eye. I didn’t know it until I heard Mrs Salmon and mum talking about a boy at school who had something called St Vitus Dance, he can’t keep still. Then I heard them talking about me and my ‘habit’—until then, I never knew what a habit was let alone that I had one.
Mrs Salmon said. “He will soon grow out of it, it’s just the shock of the bomb”.
Mrs Salmon isn’t always right though; she was the one who said mum would be alright. Since I heard all this, I have been looking in the mirror every few minutes, all I could see was a funny sort of wink in one eye. I need to look in the glass to see if it is getting worse, but that means passing Mrs ’O’ in the scullery. As I walk towards her, I watch her eyes to see if she notices anything, she just smiles as I push past, but in the looking glass I can see the twitch… it’s getting worse!
‘Alan! Just be careful in the scullery, the copper is very hot, it’ll scorch your trousers, then you’ll smell just like that dirty old army coat you’re so fond of.’
‘Don says, army buttons must never be polished, shiny buttons make’s a target for sniper’s, I wonder what regiment he was in, and why it smells all burnt and where do you think the soldier is now’?
Mrs. ‘O’ looked over her shoulder at me for what seemed a very long time, her hands still in the sink, but then she turned away without saying anything, just slowly shaking her head.
‘Just look at you, come away from that looking glass, pulling all those faces, one day you will end up like that poor Mr. Hyde.’
‘If you want something to do, you can work out what the time is…you’re the only bugger that can.’
She laughs so much at her joke, that her fag fell into the copper.
‘Oh, Bugger! Bugger! Bugger! Now look what you have made me do.’
I think that if you took all the swear words out of her conversation, she would have very little to say.
I walk back into the kitchen, Mrs. ‘O’ has said nothing about my winky eye. I think she is too upset about losing her fag.
‘Here’s your toast, it’s a bit burnt, and that’s because of all your blooming chatter.’
I creep back under the dresser, pulling my old army coat up round my neck, and eat my toast. You can’t beat toast and dripping on a chilly morning. I am lying still, and just listening, I can hear so much now, Mrs Wades chickens cackling and the pigs grunting, I could never have heard them before the bomb. I would have thought a bomb landing so close would make you as deaf as a post, but it’s the opposite.
My winky eye only comes back when I am stressed, my hearing is back as before. Mum gets better and we all soon get back to normal—or as normal as you can be in a war. We never thought the war would come so close to us, as it did that night.
The dramatic events of these last few weeks did not really affect me, although I had been a witness to what a single bomb falling on a sleeping village could do. I was still an optimist. This was obviously something I had inherited from my mother, despite all the trauma she has had to endure in her forty odd years, she would always say.
‘Never mind, something will always turn up’… It didn’t always though.