Chertsey Tales part thirty-five.

It’s a few weeks since the bomb, Mum has taken me to Doctor Wards for the last look at my split lip and gums. He said there may be a little scar on my lip, but all the other cuts on my face made by the glass splinters have healed nicely. I will probably lose the wobblily tooth if the gum doesn’t heal up though.

We are hardly home and indoors when Mrs Salmon is passing our kitchen window holding up a freshly baked cake. Within ten minutes or so, she is followed by three other friends, all wanting to know about me. I feel quite important!

I love listening to grown-ups talking, I suppose some would say I am just a nosy kid, they are probably right. Our kitchen is a good hunting ground for this little hobby of mine. There is always someone with a bit of gossip about that Mrs so-and-so up the top of the town—that is the posh bit of Chertsey, things seemed to be ‘going on’ all the time up there.

I noticed when-ever the subject is a bit naughty it would either be said behind a hand or with ‘gum-talk’—moving the lips without uttering a word. Another thing they will do is to say ‘thingy-me-bob’ or his ‘doodah’’ or some such thing, rather than the actual word. We kids know what all these words mean of course, so we know everything they are talking about. Then there are the ‘sayings’ such as, ‘There’s no smoke without fire’ or ‘She is all curtains and no knickers’. There is a competition to see who could come up with the most fitting expression. Then they would all start laughing, I couldn’t see what was so funny about that, some of the girls at school never wore knickers, just long vests with a safety pin underneath. Come to think of it, I never wore pants either, just trousers, shirt, and jersey, I never had a jacket or an overcoat, even in the winter, nor did any of my mates. We made out we didn’t feel the cold, we did though. 

I don’t know if it was the urgency of being at war, but every sentence seemed to be shortened to just three or four words, and the one that I remember most of all was ‘Just in case’, we were told to ‘Carry our gas masks—just in case’, or ‘Don’t talk to strangers—just in case’, these three words would be added to anything.

On this day I came home from school and there they were, the ladies all having a cup of tea. I walked in the kitchen and the talking stopped abruptly. My mother gave me a clip around the ear—this was not any sort of punishment; more affectionate you could say—almost like a greeting. Whenever I asked what that was for, she would say—Just in case. 

Author: madeinchertsey

Born in 1932, this is a collection of stories of my childhood growing up in Chertsey, and some stories of my later life.

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