What Happened to Cloudbursts?

I have busy collecting my stories together for the final ‘Made in Chertsey’ book. It’s taking longer than I thought. I saw this snippet of my virtual walk around St Annes Hill, and in my mind, I come across one of the long-lost summer houses that were thoughtfully placed to be within easy reach to shelter whenever a cloudburst threatened. Or on one of those very hot days when the tar on the side of the roads would melt and bubble. A hot day seemed to be really hot in days gone by, or maybe I am just remembering the drama of them.

We never hear of a ‘Cloudburst’ these days, but then, they seemed to always follow one of these very hot days, generally after a bank holiday or more likely during one. Being able to shelter in one of these summer houses, was a delight, thunder and lightning and the torrential rain that fell in such huge drops that it made the dry sand dance a foot high and make dusty bubbles float away down the path. Normally it only lasted a short while before the sun came out again, brighter than ever. I loved the sweet smell of freshly washed roads and the steaming leaf mould after one of these storms. From what I remember the summers were very hot for just a day or two and it was unusual to have a whole week of nice weather and you would hear people say. 

 “We were lucky to have that hot week in July for our holidays”. 

My deliberate mistakes.

A leaky heart valve focus’s the mind, no more dithering over one word or sentence, it had to be ‘publish and be damned’. OK that’s a bit dramatic, I couldn’t finish the whole book anyway. So, I will be gathering my notes together to carry on where I left off.

The cause of this urgency was one of my Mother’s favourite sayings, ‘Just in Case’, I had confidence in the surgical team of course but my mother’s three little words persisted, so I published what I had.

Fortunately, the surgical team was under no pressure from my Mum and completed their work without fault. I was awake during the operation and watched it on a large TV screen. I felt very humbled for heeding my Mothers words. The confidence and skill of the surgeons in the Wythenshaw Hospital is breath-taking.

While sorting my stories (they are a total mess) I have thought of the perfect excuse. As I have probably mentioned before, I left school being hardly able to string a sentence together, I doubt if I even knew what a sentence was, let alone those other things like verbs or nouns—I’m not too sure now!

So, to give the stories a bit more drama and make the reader react—probably with a grimace. I have included some deliberate mistakes, like using the wrong tense or repeating a word several times in a sentence. It will be like one those puzzles where you have to find the hidden word—but very much easier. There are no prizes for the person that spots them all by the way. 

My ebook.

This is the cover my ebook, I bought the book yesterday, to see what it is like, and found that I made a lot of silly mistakes. A leaky heart valve focus’s the mind and I heeded my mother’s ‘Just in case’ advice, and published what I had that was ready to print. I need not have worried, the Tavi team at The Wythenshaw Hospital are astonishing. It’s available now on most ebook vendors sites. Don’t forget that any money that is paid to me will go to our local food bank.

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1Jungle Janey

My book is done

Today I have sent my book, “Made in Chertsey 1932/42′ to some Ebook sites. It will take a couple days to be available. I intended to make it free to whoever wanted to see it, but the publishers have to cover their cost’s. I have used their minimum price, and if anyone actually pays to read this book, I will have a small proportion of that price. I will donate this to the Chertsey food bank as soon as I am able to do this. (You can find out more about the work of Chertsey Foodbank and how to support them here: www.runnymede.foodbank.org.uk ). Later today I am going into hospital for my heart op, so I have only written the first ten years.Eventually, I may also have paperback book of the full story, that may take a little while to do. The ebook sellers are: Barnes and Noble,Apple Books, tolino, hoopla, Ruku kobo, tenbibliotheco, SCRIB D, Overdrive, BAKER AND TYLER, vivlio. Happy reading!

An introduction.

Introduction.

In the big looking glass, I see a thin, lanky seven-year-old, I am wearing my new school clothes, short trousers that are too long and boots that are too big. Mum always buys our clothes on the big side so that we grow into them. I am not happy with what I see.

“Who is going to look at you Alan”?

 My mother says the words in a kindly way, hoping to dispel my fear of ‘standing out’. Unknowingly, it has the reverse effect, it makes me think that I am not worth a first, let alone a second look. I would remember these words for the rest of my life and always be on the edge of the stage just looking in—That is, until I discovered writing. 

 After I retired, my daughter in law Edi, helped me to join a writing group. A month later I am on the stage of ‘The Green Room’, reading my first story to an audience, and making them laugh. When I left the stage, a man said. “That was out standing”. Now I can’t stop!

‘Made in Chertsey’ is a fictionalised account based on true events and the people in them. Of course, all of these events have a seed of truth in them. Some of these seeds will germinate and flower naturally, others will need the fertiliser of my imagination—before you ask, this fertiliser is non-organic.

 A few seeds fell on the wayside of my memory and were forgotten until another story that is well remembered brings them back to life. The human brain is astonishing.  

The job interview.

It is Nineteen forty-six, and my sister Iris is preparing me for a job interview.  She has bought me a new shirt, trousers, shoes and even a tie, and has just finished knitting some sort of jersey, she calls it a cardigan, which I am trying on for the first time. It is not hanging well.

” Are cardigans meant to be so long Iris”?

“It’s the way you hold yourself, you are not making any effort, are you? I’ve made it a little bit bigger because you’ve got such long arms, how do you think that you would ever come to anything standing like that”? 

These are cruel words to say to anyone, leave alone to an exceedingly tall and skinny fourteen-year-old boy—with a voice impediment and twitchy eye. But that is my sister Iris, for you she doesn’t beat about the bush. 

She stands back, looking at me with a sort of a wincing smile, I have the feeling that she is not happy with what she sees. She pulls the sleeves one way and another. I try standing upright as my sister says I must, but she keeps telling me that I am a funny shape. The sleeves are now much too long and have to be turned up, I look down at my new cardigan, saying. 

“Dark green cardigans with big white buttons are for old people not for teenager’s”.

She gives me another of her looks.
“Teenager’s, where do you get all these slang words from. Anyway, cardigans are very popular in America, I got the pattern from a film magazine. Perry Como and Frank Sinatra wear them. Over there it’s sometimes called a smoking jacket”.
“A smoking jacket! I don’t even smoke Iris”.

 To my sister, clothes will make all the difference, but I’m wondering what a potential employer would think of a fourteen-year-old boy, with a voice impediment, applying for a job wearing a bottle green smoking jacket with big white buttons. 

The afternoon drags on, I start to stammer, and my funny eye begins to twitch, a sure sign of stress. Admittedly I am shy and a bit odd. It isn’t my fault though, it’s just the way I am.

I don’t need to say of course that I didn’t get the job, the following week I started work at ‘Chase of Chertsey’, a local factory, but I’m quite content with this, some of my friends already work there.

When I told Iris, the job that she had lined up for me had come to nothing, she seemed surprised and asked.

“You made sure you were nice and tidy with your shoes polished and did you wear the tie I bought you”?

“Yes of course I did, I thought it was going quite well, the man asked me all about my model making and what Church did I go to and if I belonged to the Scouts or the Army Cadet’s. When I said I didn’t belong to anything, he wrote something down and didn’t ask any more questions. He just said he would let me know, but he did say he liked the cardigan you had knitted for me”.

Iris looked at me as if I had said something really bad. 

“You didn’t, did you? Please tell me that Alan, you didn’t wear it to the office, did you? What am I going to do with you? It’s not meant to wear to work, it is for when you are relaxing at home”.

It was a simple misunderstanding, it could happen to anyone, anyway I was never cut out to be an office boy, and as Iris said

“It’s the way you stand, you are not making any effort are you”?

The tree of life 1943

   “Waggy are you coming out?”

A short pause,

 ”Waggy I know you’re in there, I can hear you sawing some wood”.

 I knew it was Pansy but I was at a hard bit of modeling and tried to ignore her.

  Then she started shouting louder, I finished the hard bit and looked out the window, there she was, hands on her hips, she still had her gymslip on and she really looked like Pansy Potter, the new girl in the Beano, her arms were thicker than my legs—which wasn’t difficult.

   Her three sisters had nice names, April, May and June, but her parents had run out of nice ‘month’ names and started on flowers and came up with Pansy.

   “I know what you want me to do, Pansy, but after yesterday I think we should wait for a while before we try it again”.

  “ I really want to do it now, if my sister can do it so can I”

  “I don’t think so”, I said under my breath, after hearing what my brother Don told me about what her sister got up to behind the ‘rec’ pavilion.

  “Come on Waggy, I promise it want take long”. 

  Girls seem to know that if they keep on about something they will always have their way.

  “ All right, but I’m not going to waste the whole afternoon like I did yesterday, I’m in the middle of something that I want to finish today”.

“ALUNNNN”

 I have found when someone really wants your attention, they always call you by your first name.

  That is, everyone except my mum, there were so many of us, she could never get the name right, so she would just shout anyone’s name, we would all look up to see who she looking at go from there.     

  I crossed the road to where the bomb had fallen a couple of years ago, it was now just a heap of bricks, but the front garden of one of the houses still had a bit of lawn and an Almond tree, mum said it was the tree of life because it was hardly damaged when the bomb fell, and it still had lovely blossom and almonds in the autumn, but they were not for eating, she said.

   Pansy was waiting under the tree, so was Danny, his house was badly damaged as it was directly opposite the bomb, but had been rebuilt and they moved back in. Danny was a bit younger than I but just as tall and always had a girl hanging around.

  This time it was Maureen from Cowley Avenue. The last thing I wanted was an audience, especially after yesterday.

  “ I’m only going to try this a couple of times Pansy”

  She didn’t answer; she just looked at me.

   She was the only girl in the school who had steel studs on her sandals, and yesterday they had cut into my hands.

  Posh boys, like my mates Alex and David always had brown shoes and had ‘Blakies’ on the soles, other boys had steel studs like Pansy had, I usually had plimsoles.

  I wanted to get this done as quickly as possible, I grabbed her foot and with all my strength pushed as hard as I could, Danny helped me and finally we did it.

  Pansy grabbed the lowest branch and pulled herself up into the tree.

  “There” she shouted, “ I’ve done it, my sister owes me a sixpence, she bet me I couldn’t do it”   

The Blame Game.

I am one of those people who are loyal to a team to the very end no matter how badly they perform. I have always been an optimist and I think something will eventually turn up.

I am obviously not alone with this loyalty and optimism.  I see every day how popular governments are, despite their dreadful failings. Elections and opinion polls show these failing governments still have the support of huge numbers of voters.

I think we optimists still want to give them the benefit of any doubt, unfortunately this benefit is rarely returned. In fact, we are told that they have followed the science and done everything possible to keep us safe. 

They also tell us it is the fault of people mixing and for not doing as they are told that over 100,000 people have died of Covid.

OK, let us say there is some truth in this wanton mixing and disobedience, would that really cause so many people to lose their lives, is it the 40,000 care home resident’s fault that they died before their time?  Or the dreadful toll of Doctors, nurses and all the other health care workers who didn’t wear the proper PPE?

100,000 people, it’s a number that is hard to grasp, to help you with this, imagine a big jetliner with about 300 people on board crashing and killing everyone………….every single day since the pandemic arrived.

Would you still fly in an aircraft like this?

Chances and Chancers.

It is amazing how the virus mutates and defeats all our best efforts to keep it under control, we are told it does this just by chance. 

Chance means it is possible that a mutation could occur in a really small group of infected people but is more likely in a larger group. In other words the larger the pool the greater the chance of a new successful variant.

In the UK, the successful wartime government was formed from a wide pool of men and women from all walks of life. Some were Lords of the Realm and others were ordinary people, they were chosen for their expertise rather than who they knew or who they were related to. So, there was a good chance of picking the right person from this very large pool.

 Compare that with the tiny pool we have now, many of them are actually related or just chancers in the know, and able to bid for PPE contracts for which they had little expertise and ignoring firms that were ready to supply.

  Imagine if we had this lot looking after us in those terrible war years.

As always, chance has played its part and now we have our very own UK Covid variant, not a thing to be proud of though.

Chertsey conkers or chess

Chertsey conkers or chess?

So, I have read the first few pages of ‘How to succeed in chess openings’. it is a book for primary school kids—five and six year olds. It seems to me that children of today are expected, and are able to grasp anything that is given to them.

 It didn’t happen in my day! At least not to me. They say that everyone is good at something at some time in their life, my moment of glory, although very short lived, comes to my mind whenever I see a nice shiny conker, (my horizons have never been very high).

The conker trees in Mr Stanfords farm were pretty good, if you could throw a biggish stick high enough you could have a nice big conker. It would last quite a few conker tournaments.  That is before David Ralph from Pound Pond Road came into the play ground with his special conkers. It was said he used to soak them in vinegar to harden them, but this maybe just a rumour put about by his victims.

There was a rather spindly conker tree in ‘The Carpenters Arms Pub’ in Pyrcroft road.  It never produced any conkers though, until one year I found a lovely unopened conker on the pavement. I looked up and sure enough the tree was completely devoid of any more conkers

. My friend David Mawford who lived opposite the Carpenters, and he should know this. Told me that the reason the tree never never gave any conkers was because the men would come out of the pub and have a Pee against the tree.

 Now, without putting too fine a point on this, it is sufficient to say that this poor spindly  conker tree used this —shall we say vinegary substance to enhance the single conker that it ever produced.

I couldn’t  wait to challenge the Pound Pond Champion and his favourite conker, some said it was indestructible.  We squared up in front of the rest of the school, even Mr Thomas came out to see us, the tournament lasted all of five minutes.

He won of course, but at least I lasted longer than anyone else.

I think that chess is a bit like this, some you lose and some you lose.