Amore – Name that Story – Chapter Four

  CHAPTER FOUR  

I think this chapter should be called ‘Amore’. This genuinely was the highlight of my Blackpool Holiday.  A grown up night out for a little girl. This is a chapter about fun and the relationship between a little girl and her mum. It brought back good memories and made me remember how young and pretty my mum used to be.  Enjoy!  

Typical B&B

We walked almost down to the promenade, and then just as we could hear the waves breaking, and smell the salt, we turned left, down a narrow side street, one of the older streets in Blackpool, but well looked after, and pretty.  There were baskets crammed with brightly colored flowers hanging from iron hooks off the side of the buildings.  I can’t ever remember being in such a good mood, or such a pretty place.  I skipped and walked and sang and felt very happy and alive.  The little side street ended at a very big doorway which was painted bright blue.  The door was open and just inside stood a very stiff looking gentleman who was standing like a vicar at the pulpit. He had a big book open in front of him, which looked just like the big old bibles in church.  He looked very serious and starchy in his black suit and white bow tie. As we approached he walked forward with his hand outstretched and a tight narrow smile on his thin lips.  “Good Evening” I understood that bit, but then he said something I didn’t understand.  He had some funny accent, a little bit like the man in the ice cream van, and a little bit like the people on the beach in my dream. I shivered like someone had walked over my grave when I thought about the dream. It was just sunstroke; I had a bout of it.  I shivered a little all the same.  Maurice must have felt it because he looked down and me and smiled.  “You get the shivers with sunstroke sometimes” he told me.  Almost like he knew what I was thinking. Tim went and spoke to the man and gave him some money.  We hadn’t even eaten yet and this man was getting money!  He smiled with his whole face now and said something that sounded like ‘gracias’ and asked us to follow him.  He was a very skinny man with very tight trousers, which made him look like a woman from behind.  We followed him to the very back of the restaurant where he ushered us to a very quiet table, set in an alcove, Maurice called it a booth. It was cozy and nice.  There was a little window on one side. The window looked out to the seafront, which was still busy with holidaymakers.  We could see out, but there were pretty lace curtains stopping people from looking in at us. There was a long table in the booth, with long leather seats at either side.  It felt snug.  I sat by the window with Maurice next to me.  My mum and Tim sat opposite.  I looked at my mum and how pretty she looked, she looked like Lucille Ball, from the ‘ I love Lucy’ show.  Only my mum’s hair was brown, not red.  “Mum, you look pretty like Lucille Ball” I told her.  Everyone laughed, “Your mum is bella” Tim said.  I didn’t know who Bella was, but I knew it must have been good because it made my mum blush. 
            My mum and I looked at the menu and then looked at each other and laughed.  Then menu was written in something other than English. Maurice said it was Italian.  He travelled a lot with his job and could talk French and Italian.  He said he also talked a little bit of Spanish and German too.  He told me that Tim was his cousin, and they were partners.  They helped businesses to sell things in other countries.  It sounded exciting. I would like to go to other countries, especially Italy.  All that ice cream! Maurice ordered our food and soon the dishes started arriving. They all smelled so delicious.  We got a big bowl of salad, with cheese and very thin bacon (prosciutto was the proper name for the thin bacon) on it. Along with that came mussels.  I loved anything that came in a shell, mussels, cockles, shrimp and even winkles.  After that the waiter brought a plate with little holes in it, each hole was full of sizzling butter and little things floating in the butter, which the waiter said were escargot’s. My face must have had a big question mark on it because my mum looked and me and with a grimace and said SNAILS!  I tried them and liked them a lot. I thought we were finished after the salad, snails and mussels, but we were not.  The waiter brought a huge bowl and placed it in the middle of the table.  It was so big that I had to stand up to see what was in it.  It was filled with pasta that was shaped like bow ties, all shiny and steamy, and mixed with pieces of ham and cheese.  Another waiter brought a large plate with a big round flat piece of bread on it and called it pizza. I had never eaten pizza before, I had heard of it, one of the boys at the farm (where my mum worked) said he had it in London once. It had melted cheese and tomatoes on it.  It looked even better than the pasta. This was a good night! No one said too much as we ate and absorbed the atmosphere and the food. The two men were drinking Italian beer out of little bottles, my mum was drinking port and lemon and I was drinking something called ‘Italian soda’ which came in a funny bulbous shaped bottle, with a straw stuck in the top.  It was the best thing I had ever had to drink. (Until I tasted wine that was!)  Just as we finished eating the music started playing.  A little band of three musicians had set up in the far corner of the restaurant. Tim and my mum got up and started to dance together.  I knew my mum liked Tim a lot, and he was starting to like me a little bit, I could tell.  I watched them dance.  “Shall we go and dance too” Maurice asked.  I looked up at him, he had such a kind face, “Can we get some ice cream first?” I said.  He laughed and waived the waiter over.  He ordered some ice cream for me.  It really was the best ice cream, it tasted of coffee and almonds.  I had finished eating it before my mum and Tim sat down again.  I was starting to feel really tired, but it looked like we might be here for a while as another tune came on which lured Tim back on to the dance floor.  This song made me laugh, it sounded like a drunken song. ‘When the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie, that’s amore’.  It was funny. “These are Dean Martin songs” Maurice told me. “I think Dean Martin liked to drink too many Italian beers” he said as he poured the contents of another beer into his glass and laughed. The waiter came over with some coffee and little ‘grown up’ desserts, but that is about as much as I can remember, I had put my head down on the window ledge, my cardigan underneath it to make it soft, and I fell asleep.  I don’t know how much longer we stayed in the restaurant, or even how I got back to my bed in the little Bed and Breakfast, because the next time I opened my eyes it was morning, the sun was shining through a gap in the curtains and my mum was laid asleep on the bed next to me, with her spongy curlers neatly packed on her head.  Even though they were made of sponge, I have no idea how she slept in those bumpy looking things. 

                        She must have sensed my gaze as she opened her eyes, smiled at me and held out her arms, I went and snuggled in the little single bed next to her. My mum looked funny in the mornings because her teeth were steeping in a cup on the bedside table.  As odd as it seems, back in the sixties, that was common.  It was easier to get all your teeth taken out and have new ones made.  When I was very little, I used to call her witchy face when she didn’t have her teeth in. I think I was the only one who saw her without them. I had seen my Aunty without her teeth too! She looked really scary without them (come to think of it, she looked just as scary with her teeth in).  We snuggled for a few minutes saying nothing, until a knock at the door disturbed us.  We heard the rattle of cups, and knew it was our morning cuppa, which meant it was eight o clock or so and time to rise and shine.  My mum got up and brought in the tray of tea, she laughed and turned around to show me the bottle of Italian Soda with a little ribbon around it.  I knew Maurice must have bought that for me. I didn’t need any tea, the Italian drink was just right. We washed and dressed.  It was a nice morning but I was a little sad because this was the day we had to go home.  I didn’t get many summer holidays so this had been very special for me.  I had on my shorts and a nice t-shirt just as if I was going to the beach. My mum had on a pretty white dress with big green circles around the bottom of it, another dress she had made herself, she really was clever.  We had our cases on the bed and were starting to pack them when there was another knock at the door.  I ran and answered it before my mum could stop me.  It was Tim, and he bent down and gave me a kiss on my cheek.  That felt odd!  It was the first time he had ever done that.  He stood up and looked at my mum. “Lets go and get some breakfast” he said “there is a nice little place right on the sea front, so let’s go and end our holiday well, Maurice is still on the phone to one of our clients, but he will come and join us”.  

            We left the cases open on the bed and went out into the fresh air.  It was only nine thirty and still brisk outside. Blackpool air didn’t warm up until eleven o clock at the earliest.  The seagulls were noisy that morning, but I loved the sound they made, I was very sad we would be on our way home soon and I wouldn’t hear the seagulls for a long time.  Tim and my mum were chattering away as we walked down the hill to the seafront.  My mum held tightly onto my hand, making sure I didn’t go missing again.  Half way down the hill I stopped, I heard someone call my name.  I looked around and saw the lady who had taken me to the ‘Lost Children Van’ the day before. She was bustling towards me with ‘Alfie’ strolling casually along behind her.  “Oh I am so glad you found your mum and dad” she said as she got closer.  ‘Mum and Dad’ I thought, and then laughed because she thought Tim was my dad.  She introduced herself to my mum and Tim, and then gave me a big smacking kiss on my cheek.  “Alfie this is Sheila from yesterday, remember the little lost girl, she found her mum and dad, I was so worried, I am so glad we saw you”  He smiled and introduced himself too.  My mum thanked them and got quite tearful again.  Doris gave her a bear hug, which probably squeezed all the air out of her lungs, and then grabbed on to Alfie’s hand and off they went.  A comical pair! Alfie was tall and thin, and Doris was rather round, they made me think of the old nursery rhyme, ‘Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean, and so between the two of them, they licked the platter clean’.  I would always remember Doris and Alfie as Mr. and Mrs. Sprat! We carried on walking down to the café for breakfast.  The sea air was making me hungry.  I was always hungry these days.   

            We found ourselves outside a nice little café, it was whitewashed and had oak beams on the outside and when we walked inside we were in a lovely room with wallpaper on the walls that covered in roses.  All of the waitresses had on little lace aprons and wore little lace caps on their head.  We found a table by the window, so we could watch for Maurice coming, and we ordered a pot of tea while we waited for him.  He was a long time, and I started getting a little worried.  I had been a little jumpy since my sunstroke dream. A little bell rang as the door opened, and there was Maurice.  No coat this morning, or hat.  He looked very relaxed and wore a short-sleeved t-shirt instead of his usual shirt and tie.  “We just got a big contract and breakfast is on me”, he said.  Tim made a very funny “Yahoo?” type noise and clapped very loud.  My mum looked a little embarrassed as everyone in the café looked in our direction. She didn’t like that sort of attention. I just wondered what a ‘contract’ was. “We fly to Lyon tomorrow morning” Maurice said.  Suddenly I wasn’t hungry anymore! I wasn’t sure where Lyon was, I thought it might be in France, but I really didn’t want them to fly anywhere because I would miss them. Something else was bothering me too, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  

            I must have looked funny because Maurice noticed straight away.  He came and sat down, and while Tim ordered breakfast he talked to me. “We will be coming back you know, it’s only for a few days, a week at the most.  Next time we fly out there, because we will be flying out there a lot, you can come if you like.  You and your mum, we can try French ice cream, what do you think?” I  had never really thought about flying before, even though my brother was a pilot. I smiled when I thought about my brother Bobby, being a pilot.  He was daring, he used to fly over our little house and do all sort of tricks in the sky.  My mum used to run inside and cover her eyes and ears, convinced he would crash into the farm buildings near our house.  He flew panes off boats, so he had to be able to do all sorts of things regular pilots didn’t do.  He flew pretty patterns in the sky, flying upside down sometimes, and sometimes flying so low I thought he was going to cut the tops off the trees in the forest at the bottom of our garden.  My friend didn’t believe me when I told them that it was my brother who did all of those crazy things over our village.  There were only two other kids in the little village I called home, but both of them came running out when that plane came over.  They had to start believing it was my brother after my headmaster talked about him in one of our classes at school.  He told them all about that type of flying, and how hard Bobby had to train to be able to do all of those things in the sky.  Also how dangerous it was.  For a while, I felt like I had a film star for a brother and everyone was jealous of me. My brother Bobby looked like a film star, he was very handsome.  

            Maurice left me to my thoughts, and I reasoned it all out very quickly in my head, the way kids do. I came back to reality when the waitress put a plate in front of me which smelled of bacon, nothing in the world smelled better than bacon.  There was bacon, eggs, tomatoes, black pudding, and a nice crispy slice of fried bread.  That put a smile on my face, and I looked up at my mum and said. “I would like to go to Lyon one day and get some French ice cream” That made them all laugh, and I pushed my scary thoughts away for a while and ate my sizzling plate of breakfast, well most of it, I don’t know if anyone would be able to eat all of that.  I left the tomatoes and mushrooms, but it would have been a sin to leave any of that delicious fried bacon or black pudding, and I had to eat the fried bread because what else could I dip in the yoke of my fried egg.  My mum hardly touched her breakfast because she was always on a diet. Usually for breakfast she had a slice of ryvita and a cup of tea.  The two men devoured their breakfast like they had never eaten before.  

            We sat there for a while, drinking tea and watching the passers-by, and then Maurice paid the waitress and gave her a big tip, which she tried to give back to him, but he insisted she took it and then we all went out for our last walk along the sea front.  It was another lovely day, made you want to stay forever and forget about school. I am sure my mum wasn’t thrilled at the thought of going back to work. She did seem very happy when she was there though.  The beach was already filling up with happy excited children and their equally excited parents. The little green lost children’s van was parked and ready for the first customer.  The donkeys were jingling along by the edge of the water.  My bad dream was forgotten again and life was good.

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