Mother and teenage me.
This is a rewrite to include my mother, for our homework.
January 30th 1945.
I placed the bowl of washing on the kitchen table, I had just put it all through the old wooden mangle, that stood outside the back door, my hands were frozen and I’m glad to be back in the warmth of the scullery.
Saturday was washday in our house, as mum worked every other day of the week— probably doing some one else’s washing.
I dipped my hands into the hot washing water to warm them up.
“ Don’t do that love, you will get ‘cold aches”.
I already knew this, but my hands were so cold, anything to warm them must be better than the cold.
Every winter our house was so chilly, that we would try to keep ourselves warm by any means, usually followed by ‘chilblains or cold aches’, so I knew what to expect.
It was about nine o’clock in the morning, but mum already looked tired out, there was a lot of washing in our house and it all had to be done by hand, always by mum’s hand.
“Mum do you know what day it is today?
“Whhaat?” she said.
She would often answer me with this long drawn out ‘whhaat’ word, whenever she has had enough of my silly questions, but this was not silly.
“ I am thirteen today, it’s my birthday”.
She stopped scrubbing; she leaned forward and looked out of the steamy windows, then she turned around to me, drying her very white wrinkly hands.
“ You can’t be”.
“ Yes I am, I am thirteen today, all-day long”—this was the sort of comment that usually seemed to irritate her, but I just can’t help myself.
She turned back to the washing tub and started scrubbing again, this time a bit more vigorously, as if she didn’t want to know my good news.
She stopped washing and dried her hands again, and turning around to me she said.
“Put the kettle on and lets have a nice cup of tea”
“ I can’t believe it” she said, wiping a tear from her eye’s,” Thirteen! Thirteen! You are now one of those new teenager’s that everyone’s talking about”.
We drank our tea, and then she looked me up and down. I could see she was thinking I looked a bit of a jumble.
I had my sister Chris’s Land Army Aertex shirt on, and the long socks that I had also gained
I thought I looked pretty good though, I’ll admit my grubby grey flannel trousers could do with a bit of a wash.
“Trevor”. She said —Now for some reason, which I have never quite understood, she sometimes called me Trevor.
“Trevor, I think this is a good time for you to begin to smarten yourself up.
For a start you must do something about your hair, I’m sure you can’t see properly”
She rummaged in her old handbag hanging on the door, and gave me a sixpence.
“ Go to Mr. Norris’s and get a short back and sides, and, I want the change back this time.”
Mr. Norris had a barbers shop in Guildford Street, and as I crossed the road I saw my reflection in Miss Stott’s ‘ladies outfitters’ shop window, which is nextdoor.
With my mum’s words still ringing in my ears, I saw this scruffy, lanky, knock kneed, youth walking with a sort of nodding motion, toward the shop door.
As I got closer, and trying to have a better view through the criss‑cross tape on the window—all windows had this to stop the glass from shattering in case of a bomb blast—I could see what my mum meant.
While I was taking all this in, I couldn’t help noticing some big curtains twitching inside the shop, it was young Miss Stott, (she was well over eighty).
Whoever thought of using a giant pair old ladies bloomers for the curtains of the changing room was a total genius.
Our eyes met, she had a really unpleasant look on her face —it was if she had just chewed a wasp— as my mother was fond of saying, I tried to lip read but it was impossible, It looked like bugger off.
Mr. Norris was very busy,, I watched him moving round the chair and chatting to all his customer’s. He was a tall man, and had a wooden leg; he must be doing this all day long.
This made me realize how lucky I was, I had my haircut and from that moment I decided to change my image.
As I walked home I started by standing up straight with my shoulders pulled back; I swung my arms military style and tried pushing my knees apart as I walked.
Trying to push my knees apart while walking was really difficult and made me sort of roll from side to side, but I kept at it.
Then, there was the trousers, I was never sure whether they were ,short, long trousers or
Long, short trousers, but that’s what you get when you buy clothes from a ‘Tally’ man
. Either way I decided to wash them when I got home, mum had gone shopping so I thought I would just pop them in the copper, as the water was still nice and hot.
You would have thought, wouldn’t you? That I should have known that boiling trousers that were partly made of wool was not a good idea.
However, one thing is now certain, they are now short trousers, very short trousers.
Next day, I showed my mum my new walk, she was quite overcome.
She said “Oh Trevor” and covered her face with both hands and just shook with emotion. She was obviously amazed, I was really pleased.
A few day’s later, I was going up Pyrcroft road, and I could see Mrs. Mant and her neighbour at her gate. Both had the same pinafores and matching turbans —probably bought from Miss Stott’s— I did wonder if they also had the same bloomers on as well, Miss Stott seemed to have cornered the market for all this sort of stuff.
They both had a fag in their mouths and I could see by the wagging of the cigarettes that they were having a good old gossip.
This, I thought, was a good time to see if my new walk would be noticed, I straightened up, swung my arms and marched toward them.
I hadn’t really perfected the knee thing yet, and still had a bit of a roll but I carried on anyway.
I noticed them both looking at me, and then, with the acute hearing that we have when we are young, I heard Mrs. Mant say.
“Look what’s coming down the road, you would think that poor Mrs. Waglin has got enough to put up with already, wouldn’t you”.
“ Yes” said her neighbor, “It’s a shame, they say there is one in every family”
As I strode past, they stood stock still, even their fags just hung loosely.
Then, without actually moving their heads, their eyes followed me slowly as if they were on a swivel.
Once I was past they started laughing, really laughing, and very loudly.
But I am proud to say I had the last laugh, I am now square shouldered, upright and with a manly walk.
There is always a downside to this sort of thing though; I think I overdid the knee
thing, as I am now quite bandy.