Full moon in the morning

Colorado - don't you love it?

Hi guys, I am reviewing my ‘Girl on the Beach’ story ready to release as an e-book for kindle, iPhone, Ipad etc. etc.  Watch out for it as it will be my first professional attempt with a proper cover designed just for me.  Reviewing the edited version is making me really excited.  If it sells I may also release an audio book and a paper back.  If it doesn’t sell I’m not going to give up writing because it is a hobby and I will continue to indulge myself as long as I have a story to tell. If someone else gets pleasure out of reading them, so much the better.  It’s just good to get all of these stories out of my head. Couldn’t resist sharing the photo I too from my deck at six o clock this morning.

Colorado the beautiful.  Enjoy your life everyone, its way too short not to.

Guy at the Bar – Back to Books

Well I have goofed around long enough, time to get back to books.  ‘Guy at the Bar’ will be coming off Amazon soon.  If anyone wants to buy the $2 version of it, you have a limited time to do so. I will be getting it tidied up, edited and will re-publish it very shortly.  ‘Girl on the Beach’ will be available on Amazon and other eBook sites soon. I may also put this in print in a month or so, depending on finances, sales etc.  ‘A Walk in the Park’, if that indeed remains the title, will be finished pretty soon.  It is my longest book yet. This weekend I will be posting the second chapter of ‘Flat Country Snow’, the story that makes me smile. Stay tuned and enjoy my journey.  I am in no great hurry, but one day, I will make a living at this.  Have a great weekend and get your fill of wonderful World Cup Football.  Be Happy!

Websites and stuff!

If you see anything weird happening on my blog, be patient, bear with me, I am designing a website that will be linked to my blog. Yes me, a website…..stop laughing.  Eventually, when I am organized I will sell my books there, yes books. I will have four ready soon.  If you have already been reading my stories, you may even want to take a look at my new adventures.  The biggest adventure for me is designing a website!  Have a happy Memorial Day, and remember those who made it possible.  Good night!

My next story and Me!

As you know already, my stories are all about me, and will remain that way until I run out of experiences to talk about! I really did get into a lot of trouble in my past. There was the obvious teenage trouble, and then there were unexplainable happenings. The ‘unexplainable’ happened to me often. Try getting yourself out of trouble when you have no idea what sort of trouble you are in. I am really enjoying writing about my little mishaps, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg, an aperitif, just to whet your appetite.  The real stories are to come.  I am just warming up. Keep reading, I will try to delight you.

Stephen King – Under the Dome

Yup, talking about a book I didn’t write!  Did anyone read ‘Under the Dome’ yet? I started it, but haven’t picked it up in weeks because of my own writing projects.  I am about to take a break and pick up where I left off (easy with a kindle).  I enjoyed the beginning!  He is pretty brutal, but does it in that ‘Stephen King’ way, so it’s what you come to expect from him.  Any views?  Which is your favorite Stephen King book?  ‘The Stand’ has to be one of my favorites, along with ‘Salem’s Lot. I really enjoyed Duma Key too.  Love his short story collections!!!!  Been reading Mr. King for the last 30 years.  He is my favorite without a doubt!

Chapter Eight – The End

Where I lived

So here ends my second story. There is a lot of truth in this chapter, but it would spoil the story if I revealed it. I have another couple of stories almost ready to go. Still hoping to put my book of short stories together by Christmas, but time is slipping away from me. The days seem to go by faster when you get older. When you are young the summers seem endless, and summer evenings just went on and on. We never think we will become our parents, but we do, and only too soon. I hope the ending doesn’t disappoint. Thanks for sharing my journey. 

I hope you like the photo, this could have been the field beside the house I lived in, lovely isn’t it. Maybe it will help make my story real.

CHAPTER EIGHT        

            The rest of that day was fairly normal, no more crazy winds or thunder storms.  We just had our lessons like any other day.  Instead of a normal lunch that day, we had egg and cress sandwiches, provided by the big farm-house down the lane (the one with the nasty dog) because the man who normally delivered our lunches couldn’t come, there had been some damage to his van during the thunder-storm.  There weren’t many kids in school to feed so it wasn’t difficult for the housekeeper at the farm to put together sandwiches and bake us some oatmeal biscuits.  It was actually very good, even though I liked the school lunches, this made a nice change. 

            While I was sitting with Judy eating lunch, I heard Mr. Robinson and Mrs. Ball talking.  Mr. Robinson was telling her that he had been listening to the radio and the thunder-storm had done a lot of damage on its path across the country. It had been a fast and angry storm. Also there had been reports of a couple of ships in distress on the English Channel and just across the channel in Calais along with one or two other ports in Northern France. The weather men had missed this storm in their research. It seemed to blow up out of nowhere I heard him say.  I remember thinking how glad I was that the storm waited until my holiday in Blackpool had finished because I wouldn’t have been able to play on the beach or in the water if there had been a storm like this.  It would have been even more frightening by the sea. I got that funny uncomfortable feeling in my rib cage again, and the sunstroke dream flashed through my head.  I closed the door in my brain to shut it out though.  I sometimes joked with myself that there was a spare room in the back of my brain and I shut all unpleasant things in there, like the bad old days with my dad, when he used to hit my mum.  The sunstroke dream was locked away with those bad memories.  The door was locked to keep it there. I knew one day these bad memories would all come tumbling out, but I wasn’t ready for that yet.

            Judy looked at me, and then knocked on my head….which made me laugh because I had just been thinking about locking a door. I laughed out loud, and startled her, but she started laughing too.  We were laughing so loud that the kids around us looked at us funny, which made us laugh even more.  Soon everyone was laughing.  I think we all needed to, the day had been far from normal and laughter was the best medicine (that’s what it said in the Readers Digest anyway).

            The two teachers smiled at each other, clearly pleased that we were all laughing instead of crying.  This day could have turned out much worse….or so I thought.  The day wasn’t over yet! We worked on our lessons all afternoon, Scripture (yes back in the day we had scripture lessons, not even sure what you call them now as religion is such a taboo topic), history and an arithmetic quiz to finish the day as always.  I used to be good at arithmetic. The day ended on a much happier note with blue skies and a warm breeze.  As Judy and I left the playground to walk back down to the ‘road ends’ to get our bus home, a big yellow van arrived, with big panes of glass strapped to the back.  It looks like we would have a new window by the morning.  The branch that caused the damage still hung from the window like a severed limb, but it was no longer twitching and kicking like it had been when it did the damage.  It just hung there now, useless and isolated, and not nearly so frightening. 

            Judy and I picked up our pace so we could get to the ‘road ends’ quickly and take turns on the make shift swing, which had been set up on the tree that served as the bus stop.  It was a big old oak tree which was much-loved by everyone who had attended that school and waited for the bus.  It was a parent’s nightmare, as when you swung high, you almost swung onto the road, and if you didn’t time it right when you jumped off, you landed right in the middle of that road.  There wasn’t much traffic in those days, and I would guess the top speed was about forty miles an hour, as the road was pretty narrow and not very straight, but mothers liked to worry.  They had nothing to worry about that night because the well-loved, well used swing was no longer there. It lay on the side of the road, along with the branch from which it hung.  Judy and I stood and looked at it mournfully.  Neither of us spoke.  We both climbed up on the fence and sat there in silence.  I suddenly remembered I had not given my Blackpool rock out.  I had forgotten about it with all the other happenings of the day, so I reached in my bag and took out two sticks of the pink and white treat.  Judy’s face lit up and she thanked me.  We sat there on the fence sucking our rock and waiting for the bus to come. Five minutes later, it slowly rounded the bend and came into view, we heard it before we saw it. In fact I think we smelled it before we even heard it. I don’t know what sort of fuel those old ‘OK’ buses used, but it smelled bad, something like the smell that made you sick on a fairground after too many rides on the waltzers.  It wasn’t the spinning that made you puke, it was that awful smell of fumes. That’s how the bus used to smell. Not all busses, sometimes we went on school trips, those busses were special. They were coaches.  Jack Hall used to always drive us on our school trips.  I liked him, he used to sing and we would all join in.  We sang songs that were specially made for school trips. ‘I love to go a wandering, along the mountain track, I love to go a wandering with my knapsack on my back’ was my favorite.  When he sang that one most of us just listened and watched his reflection in the mirror at the front of the bus.  His big face looked so happy and full of fun, his big bald head bobbing around as he sang.

            Judy and I got on the bus and paid our money (you could tell at a glance this bus driver wasn’t going to sing), two halves (there we were again, not whole people, only halves). The bus didn’t take long to get home, along to the next road ends, past the quarry, past the village hall, past Gibson’s cowsheds, the milk stands and the manure heap, past the little red phone box and then the bus stopped, just by the driveway to the big house my mum worked in.  Judy and I climbed down the steps off the bus, candy rock stuck in our hands. It was so sticky by now that it would have to be peeled off our fingers. I watched Judy cross the road to go home to her house, I felt I had to as I was older than her and had to watch out for her.  When she was safely on the grass at the other side, I waved at her and then turned around to go home.  I looked at my house and there was a car parked outside.  It was my cousin, John’s car. That meant my Aunty Laura was probably visiting, as John and his wife Josie wouldn’t come without her. I don’t know why I wasn’t excited about their visit, I just wasn’t! Aunty Laura was nice enough sometimes!  She was little and a bit funny looking, and used to criticize my mum a lot, but that’s because she was her older sister.  Older sisters always thought they knew best.  My brother called her the poison dwarf! Her life ended very abruptly several years later, in a very violent and unexpected way.  Unfortunately (or fortunately for you) I can’t talk about it, but it wasn’t the way anyone would expect to meet their maker. I walked slowly to my house, but that funny feeling was back in my tummy and I didn’t know why.

            I walked around to the side of the house.  We always used the side door unless we were expecting visitors.  The front door opened into a little hall way and living room, but the door at the side opened right onto the kitchen. When I got inside my cousin John, who I loved to be with because he was so much fun, was sitting at the kitchen table with a very somber look on his face.  He smiled when he saw me though.  The door to the living room was shut, it was never shut.  I was going to go through when he stood up and stopped me.  “Let’s go for a walk” he said.  I can see his face now, he looked uncomfortable, not quite sure what to do.  I thought I could hear my mum crying, which made me feel uncomfortable because I hadn’t heard her cry since my dad used to beat her.  I looked up at him. “My dad hasn’t been around has he?” I asked. “No nothing like that” he said. I felt like I was going to cry.  “I know let’s go for a ride in my car, let’s go along the road to Inglewood and get some fish and chips”. Now he was talking!  We got into his car, which was a pretty green color, with grey leather seats, it felt very comfortable.  John backed out of our little driveway and drove slowly to the road.  Inglewood wasn’t far away so we were there in about five minutes.  I liked cars! My mum was learning to drive, I couldn’t wait until I could learn too. I opened the window and let the breeze blow in.  John didn’t say anything.  We went past Johnny Conner, who was biking along the road.  Johnny Conner was a nutcase who had a metal plate in his head.  It picked up radio signals and made him crazy.  He had long white hair and spent all day biking along the country roads. All the school kids (including me I’m ashamed to say) tormented him and sometimes he got off his bike and chased us.  Look John, Johnny Connor! My cousin John knew all about him, he had been around for a long time, and sometimes biked past his house too.

            We got to the fish and chip shop and the smell made my mouth water.  John ordered cod and chips twice and they came fresh and crispy served in newspaper.  We sat on a bench outside and ate our fish and chips, washed down with a bottle of dandelion and burdock. Delicious!  I forgot about my mum crying and just enjoyed the moment.  While we were sitting outside eating, Johnny Connor came along, parked his bike and went inside for fish and chips. I was shocked.  I had never seen him talk to anyone, in fact whenever I saw him he was either biking along the road, or chasing me.  I don’t think I had ever heard him talk. He sounded normal. The woman in the fish and chip shop was talking to him and they were laughing. He walked out of the fish and chip shop with a big smile on his face and sat down at the next bench.  He gave me a big wink with one of his piercing blue eyes and started to eat his fish and chips.  I stopped eating and just watched him.  I could hear John laughing beside me.  Johnny looked up and laughed to.  “Hey, even us crazies have to eat love” he said. I had a feeling he wasn’t crazy at all, it was just an act. I carried on eating again, but kept my eye on him, just in case. When we finished eating, we wandered across the road and threw some stones into the beck. The water was clear and gurgled over the pebbly bottom.  Too shallow for fish, but there were a couple of frogs hopping about. “I think we should go back now” John said “Your mum will probably wonder where we got to” I started to worry a little bit again. “Is everything OK?” I asked. “You should talk to your mum, everything is OK, just been a little set back, that’s all”. What was a little set back? I wondered.  We sat in silence going home. John parked the car up in our little drive again, and as he shut the gates, my mum appeared in the yard, her eyes all red.  I slowly walked over to her and she bent down, not too much because I was tall for my age, but she bent down just a little and hugged me.  We didn’t go into the house, we went into the front garden and I sat on my swing, my mum stood behind me and pushed me gently.  “Sheila, something bad happened today during the storm” I could hear her voice breaking as she talked to me! She was trying to stop herself from crying. I could see Aunty Laura peering out of the kitchen window.  My mum stopped the swing and crouched down next to me.  She was crying and could hardly talk.  Now I was really scared, what could be going on? Josie came out, she was a headmistress in a school and she was very matter of fact and knew how to handle emergencies and things. She was bossy too, she touched my mum’s shoulder and said Aunt Enid, go and sit down with John and my mother, let me talk to Sheila. My mum did as she was told, she was still crying.  I looked at Josie, her face was composed and she spoke gently but directly to me. “Sheila, you know how nasty the storm turned this morning!” I shook my head and kept my eyes on her face “Well in the Southern part of England, across the channel and in Northern France it was even worse.  Houses were damaged, boats and ships were damaged, and worse than that an airplane got struck by lightning and crashed just off the coast of Northern France, not far from Calais” My eyes must have been huge, I felt the blood drain from my face. Why was she telling me this? My dream, my sunstroke dream! Was the ball of flames in the sea a burning plane? No no-no, it couldn’t be.  “NO NO NO” I screamed, I really must have been screaming. My mum, Aunty Laura and John all came running out. Josie looked at them.  “I haven’t told her yet” She said. “Mum, mum, Maurice told me it was a sunstroke dream, it was just a dream, tell me this is just a dream too”. I was distraught, screaming sobbing. It certainly got my mum’s emotions under control.  The neighbor’s were looking over the fence to see what was going on.  My mum put her arm around me and took me inside. I was screaming, sobbing, choking and talking all at the same time. Finally John brought me a hot milky drink, I think it had something from the cocktail cabinet in it because it tasted sweet and strong all at the same time. It made my tummy burn.  Finally after my second cup of hot milk, I stopped screaming and my mum hugged me close.  Still no one had actually said the word so I did. “Maurice and Tim were on the plane weren’t they?” My eyes were red and puffy, I was shaking, I think I had scared my Aunty Laura, she was sitting at the other side of the room looking at me like I was in some sort of freak.  Josie was on her knees in front of me, my mum was hugging me. “Yes hunny” my mum finally said “we won’t see Maurice and Tim again”, and she started crying quietly again. John was outside sitting on my swing drinking a glass of whiskey and watching the sun set behind the trees in the wood at the bottom of our garden. I suspected whiskey was in my hot milk too as my second cup was having the desired effect on me and making me drowsy. Despite my sobs and aching heart, I was calming down a little. I wanted to tell them about my dream, even though it didn’t involve a plane, I knew it was a premonition of this. I couldn’t tell them though!  They would all think I needed a spell in Sedgefield, and I definitely didn’t want to spend any time there, I didn’t really know what ‘Sedgefield’ was, but I knew that if you were a nutter, they sometimes locked you up there for a very long time. Sometimes forever! I got my sobs under control, for now.  John came over to where we were sitting and he lifted me up.  “Put her in my bed” I heard my mum say.  As John carried me upstairs I heard drinks being poured.  My mum probably needed a drink more than anyone.  She had finally found a man who was good to her and made her eyes sparkle, and then she lost him.  Just like that! My cousin John put me in bed fully dressed, and despite everything that had happened, I did fall asleep.  I was vaguely aware of my mum getting in to bed and cuddling up next to me. I slept deeply and undisturbed, I had hoped I would dream of Maurice and Tim, but I didn’t. They were gone now. I knew they were alright because I had seen them in my sunstroke dream.  I wish I could have told my mum about it, but it would have been too much for her.  She would have never understood. Not then, and as time passed, it would have been too painful to talk to her about.  Life had scarred my mum, and she locked things up in the spare room in her brain too. We had to do that just to protect ourselves.  Sometimes it made us both appear hard and uncaring, but those people who knew us, knew it was the only way to survive. Life went on!

            The next day was tough and exhausting for me. I did go to school because I thought it would be less upsetting than being at home with my mum, who was trying hard to pull herself together and get on with her life. On my long walk along the road I told Judy about the plane crash, she held my hand all the way to school.  Sonia wasn’t at school that day, she had a head ache.  No one ever talked about the incident on the way to school the day before.  The storm had confirmed my story and I think she may have forgotten I hit her. There were a few broken branches in the orchard at the back of school, but the window was fixed and all of the petals gone from the playground.  Lessons that morning, were boring, but a welcome distraction from the horrible things in my head.  During our morning recess Melvyn came and found me. “Look at our tree” he said. I walked to the edge of the playground with him and looked at the tree.  There were still ribbons tied to it, pink ribbons.  It seemed no one but Melvyn and I noticed them.  He looked at me and said.  “My granddad comes and visits me sometimes, in the night.  Do you have visitors too?”

            I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t crazy, someone else saw the things I saw too, Melvyn’s granddad had died when he was five, so I understood why we were the only two people who saw the ribbons in the trees.  We weren’t crazy at all! Instead we had a gift, or talent or ability, whatever you called it, I think this was the first time I came to terms with it.  This was my ‘second’ encounter with things I couldn’t explain.  The first one had been locked away in my brain, and I might revisit it sometime in the future.

            Life went on, my mum went to a Memorial Service for Maurice and Tim! They were both remembered in the same service. My brother Bobby, took my mum, but I chose not to go, instead I stayed with another of my Aunties.  Aunty Jane, I will tell you about her later.  She was one of my favorite Aunties, and quite a character. She always smelled of gin. I hoped I would be visited by Maurice again, but I wasn’t ever!  Funny how things worked! I did see the little girl again, at times I least expected and for reasons I couldn’t explain. I still have a lot to learn!

Plane Reading!

Aren’t we all happy we are at home and not at work! Tomorrow I am posting the last chapter of my ‘girl on the beach’ story. It’s quite emotional!  I would like to thank everyone so  much for all of the  feedback and encouragement you have given me. Writing is something I love and want to continue doing for a long time. I hope to start posting chapters of ‘Flat Country Snow’ in June, but need to re-read it first as it is a little different. Remember ‘Guy at the bar’ is available on Amazon.com for anyone who wants to download the whole thing and read it on their kindle, iPad or iPhone. ($2) I am trademarking my stories under the name Plane Reading, because most of them are just the right length for the average flight within the US.  ingenious right? Well I thought it was, just trying to make a living.  Things to do, people to see, places to go……busy Saturday!  Keep reading!

Chapter Five – Girl on the beach goes back home!

The Haunted Castle

Here we are at chapter five. My story is almost done, just a couple more chapters to go.  No title yet, but I have more ideas than I did when I posted the first chapter.  Thanks for your help everyone.  I appreciate your comments, criticisms, compliments and advice. I am working with a company called DarkFire Productions to publish this story electronically and maybe as an audio book.  Wish me luck. It’s a big step because then I will really find out if anyone wants to read my stories.  I hope you enjoy this chapter.  Remember, my stories are based on fact!!! Some of these things really did happen.  Happy Reading!

CHAPTER FIVE 

            All good things must come to an end, our nice time in Blackpool being one of them. It was time to finish packing our cases and set off home. We had arrived by train, and would be leaving the same way.  Maurice and Tim were going in the opposite direction as they had to meet some people in Birmingham. Then they were flying from Birmingham (second largest city in England according to Maurice) to Lyon.  I still was uncomfortable about that bit, especially because we didn’t have a phone at home and he couldn’t phone to say he was safely there. I am glad they didn’t offer to give my mum and me a ride home because cars made me sick and it would be a long car ride from Blackpool to Summerton, which is where I lived. They did drop us at the train station though, even parked their car and came into the station with us.  Maurice took me off to get some sweets for my journey. I looked back over my shoulder as we walked to the sweet shop and saw Tim and my mum kissing. Yuk!  I wished I hadn’t looked.  He did make her very happy though, which was nice because I knew she had been lonely for a long time.  We had left my real dad when I was four, he was mean and used to beat my mum and scare my brothers.  I would hide behind chairs with my eyes tightly shut and my hands over my ears.  He even killed my kitten, he told me a ladder had fallen on it, but I knew he had killed it.  He would come home from the pub drunk and smash things.  I had seen him a couple of times since we left him, but he didn’t really want to see me, he just asked me questions about my mum.  In the end I said I didn’t want to see him anymore, I think my mum was relieved.

            We reached the sweet shop, and I couldn’t believe my eyes, there were all sorts of sweets and rock and toffee, more than I had ever seen in one place in my life. I liked everything about this place!  Maurice bought me six pink sticks of Blackpool candy rock. He told me I could give some to my friends in school.  Everyone loved pink minty candy rock. He told me to choose some sweets for me and some for my mum.  I chose iced caramels for me and sugared almonds for my mum.  Maybe the train journey wasn’t going to be so boring after all.  As we walked back to the platform, the train was pulling in.  Not many people got on or off so it wouldn’t stop for long, I gave Maurice a big hug, and then looked at Tim.  He looked like he didn’t know what to do, but then he took my hand and gave it a squeeze and told me to look after my mum and be good.  That seemed like a funny thing to say, but not as funny as yesterday when Doris and Alfie thought he was my dad. I started laughing.  Tim and Maurice helped us put our cases on the train and we found some seats, with a table between them and my mum and I sat facing each other.  She had to face the way she was going because going backwards made her feel sick.  We had just sat down when the train started pulling slowly away.  Tim blew a kiss, at my mum I think, not me. Maurice waved and pulled funny faces.  “Mum I really like Maurice” I said. She smiled “I know you do pet, how about Tim, you don’t like him?” “He’s OK!” I told her and she smiled.  “We may be seeing a lot more of him” she said. When she said that I got a shiver running all the way down my spine, not because I didn’t like Tim, but I felt like something walked over my grave.  I pulled the sweets out of the plastic bag I was carrying and handed my mum the sugared almonds.  “Oh yummy, my favorites” she said.  I don’t know why she liked them, they were just almonds covered with really hard sugar.  I popped an iced caramel in my mouth, now that was a sweet! It was wonderfully chewy toffee, covered in powdered sugar.  No one could resist that taste.  My mum was reading the Sunday paper as we chugged across the countryside.  Our train would take us to Darlington, and then we had to get a bus from there to Summerton.  Quite a journey, but that was OK because while we were travelling we were still on vacation.  I wasn’t in the mood for going home yet, or going to school the following day.

            I sat and looked out of the window for a while, there wasn’t much to see, the sound of the train was lulling me to sleep so I put my head forward on the table and dozed. Maybe it was the position I was sleeping in, or the movement of the train, but I felt like I was fighting with someone in my sleep.  I felt like I was pushing something away from me. I kept seeing faces of people I didn’t know, contorted in fear, screaming silently.  I tried to wake up, but couldn’t.  I felt like the train was flying through the air and everyone was being thrown around, their heads were bobbing and lurching as though they were on a roller coaster. I tried to push the dream away and wake up, but it had a hold on me. I saw the little girl again, the one from the beach, from the sunstroke dream.  She was reaching out for me from the very back of the train.  It didn’t look like a train anymore, everything was all wrong. I reached out to her and she got further and further away, both of her arms were reaching out to me, and then she was gone.

            The sound of a whistle woke me up, we were pulling out of a station, I couldn’t see the name because we were picking up speed.  I looked across at my mum, who had also been sleeping.  She looked comfortable and relaxed.  She wasn’t dreaming about train crashes, I could tell.  I had some awful dreams, even when I didn’t have sunstroke.  The little girls face haunted me, it seemed so familiar to me now. I could see it in my head even when I was awake. I looked out of the train window again, the scenery had changed and we sped past houses now and churches.  I hoped we hadn’t gone past our stop, and then I remembered we couldn’t as the train ended its journey in Darlington.  I suppose we could have already reached Darlington and be on our way back to Blackpool again.  I think I might like that.  I thought about my summer holiday, it had been a lot of fun. It had been a change from my usual life of school, hand me down clothes and sitting waiting for my mum to come home from work, or sitting at the house she worked in.  That wasn’t so bad because I pretended I was one of the people who lived there. I often felt jealous of my school friends because they had a mum and a dad and lots of aunties and uncles and grandparents to spoil them. This week while I was on holiday I had lots of attention, posh meal, dances, I had had the time of my life.  I think I did want to see more of Tim because good things happened when he was with my mum.  It was funny that someone had thought he was my dad though. My mum was fast asleep still so I pulled her newspaper over and looked at it, I was very good at reading and read lots of books, many more than most kids of my age did.  Newspapers were boring usually, but I saw Blackpool mentioned on the page that was open.  There was a picture of that funny pop group with the skinny singer.  ‘The Rolling Stones’, they had been in there the same time as me!  They had been doing a concert there and got into a fight, they had been told to never come back.  That was awful, not being able to go back to Blackpool, they needed to learn how to behave themselves.  My Aunty Laura didn’t like the Rolling Stones, she said Mick Jagger was a bad boy and should be locked up because of the way he danced.  Maybe they didn’t like the way he danced in Blackpool and that’s why the fight started!  Who knows?  I didn’t like the way he sang at all. I liked the Beatles.  My mum opened her eyes and smiled.  “Reading the paper now? You are growing up aren’t you?”  She stretched and popped another sugared almond into her mouth.  Then she looked at her watch.  “We should be in Darlington in half an hour, lets hope the train is on time because we only have half an hour to get to the bus station”.  We could get to the bus station in ten minutes because it was down hill to the bus station.  A big hill too.  I forgot we had a case to carry and a huge bag.  We would make it though.  My mum looked at me and said “Maybe we will get a taxi” That sounded like an excellent idea to me!

            The train pulled into Darlington station bang on time. British Rail was a little more reliable in those days. We found one of those trolley things and pushed it to the front of the station, where the Taxi rank was.  A couple of big black Taxi’s were there waiting for customers.  We walked to the one at the front and the cabbie jumped out to help us with our cases.  It was less than a mile to the bus station, and we got there in just a few minutes.  My mum paid the taxi driver and we dragged our cases into the bus station.  Our bus was there so we pulled the cases up the steps and found ourselves a seat, the driver wasn’t there yet so we just sat on the bus and waited.  My mum put her arm around me and gave me a hug. “That was a nice holiday” she said “you were a good girl”. I wondered why I would be anything other than good, I had been on the beach, eaten great food, had Blackpool rock and fish and chips, Italian ice cream, and tried my very first pizza.  Why would I want to be anything other than good?

            One or two other passengers climbed on the bus but that was all as this bus was never full, it went through several small villages, and no one strayed far from home on Sundays.  It ran what was called a ‘Sunday Service’. During the week it was a little busier with people coming to and from work, but on a Saturday it was mainly people visiting family in town.  The driver got on in his black ‘bus driver uniforms’.  Those uniforms looked so hot and uncomfortable, it seemed silly that they wore them, but I suppose it was so we all knew he was the bus driver.  My mum went and paid for us, “one and a half to Somerton” she said.  Why was I a half?  It always made me laugh.  I think it was good being a half because it didn’t cost so much, but it always sounded funny. When everyone had paid the diver started the bus up and pulled away, when he pulled out of the big bus station I expected to squint in the bright sunlight, but the sun was hiding behind the clouds now and a light drizzle had started.  Yes, our holiday was definitely over. I felt a little sad now, as we slowly drove through the deserted town centre, a far cry from the busy hubbub I had grown used to in Blackpool over the past week.  We drove through the deserted market place, empty deserted market stalls lined up looking like metal dinosaur skeletons. There were not many people out today, probably all at home keeping out of the rain.  Darlington wasn’t very big, and soon we were in the country side again.  There weren’t many stops on the way home, and not many villages to pass through, apart from Walton, it was one I knew well as I had a friend who lived there.  Her mum was the housekeeper for Walton Castle, and it was haunted!  I know because I had once been locked inside a room there and was very scared. The castle had been a hospital during the Second World War and I was excited to be given a tour of the place. It was incredibly pretty, with beautiful paintings and ornate ceilings that looked like intricately decorated wedding cakes turned upside down. I had been left in one particular room on my own while my friend went and answered the telephone.  I wasn’t left in the room for long, but it was long enough.  The big heavy door had slammed shut all by itself and the room got very cold and fuzzy looking.  I had felt like I was looking at everything through frosted glass.  I had felt like someone was in the room with me, but couldn’t see anyone, and although it was daylight, it felt DARK.  I had wanted to get out of that room so badly, but I couldn’t move, couldn’t even raise my arm.  The whole incident only lasted three or four minutes before the door opened and my friend Shirley appeared, smiling like nothing had happened.  The minute she opened the door, I bolted out, right past her and didn’t stop running until I got to the big front door, which was standing open.  I ran straight through it and kept on running down the big driveway to the bus stop, where I sat for the next hour, refusing to budge. Shirley, her older sister, her handsome brother (yes he was young enough to be called handsome) and her mum tried to persuade me to come back, but I would not, so instead they brought my coat and bag to me, along with a sandwich and a drink, and sat with me on the side of the road until the bus came.  They asked me what had happened and I had been so scared I would not talk about it.  That had not been a sunstroke dream at all, that had been a real life broad daylight scare! 

            As the bus drove past Welton, my mum put her arm around me.  “That’s the place you got the bad scare isn’t it”.  I didn’t answer, just nodded my head and looked at the little castle from a distance.  It looked like a mini castle.  It wasn’t huge, like the castles you paid money to walk around. It was more like a big manor house built like a castle.  My mum worked in a big manor house, which had seven bedrooms, and I guessed if you stuck four of those houses together, they would make up the size of this castle.  Where my mum worked was light and airy though (apart from the long corridor that connected the bedrooms, and the one directly below it that connected the ground floor rooms), this place was dark on the outside, and although the inside rooms were light, with big windows, darkness was lurking! I was glad that the bus didn’t stop there, that castle gave me the shivers.

            The bus travelled slowly along the country roads, it had stopped raining, but was still gloomy.  It was hard to tell what time of day it was, but it must be getting near to tea time because I was starting to feel hungry.  When I felt hungry on a bus, it made me feel sick too.  My mum looked at me and saw how pale I was getting “Don’t worry, we will be home in about twenty minutes” she told me. I knew she was right because we were on the road I travelled every day when I went to school.  There was the big tree that served as a bus stop when I came home in the evenings. The bus didn’t go right down to my school, I had to get off and then walk another half mile or so, which was ok most days.  One day in the spring, that had been a bit of an experience too, I had been walking to school, on my own, during a bad thunder-storm, it was a dry storm which were sometimes very dangerous.  Lightening had struck the ground right in front of me and knocked me off my feet. I think it had knocked me out for a while because when I came too and looked up, there was a horse standing right there beside me.  I knew it wasn’t going to step on me because it was Kit, Freddie Black’s cart horse, I fed it often enough.  I heard footsteps and Freddie appeared beside it.  “What are you doing sleeping in the middle of the road?” he had asked me.  He helped me up and picked up my satchel for me.  I told him the lightning had hit the ground and knocked me over.  He laughed hard and said he had heard everything now!  He gave me a ride on his cart all the way to school.  I was glad he did because when we got further along the road ‘Ringo’ the mean Alsatian from the farm had got loose and was running up and down the road barking and growling.  I was terrified of that dog.  Freddie cracked his whip at it so it didn’t worry his horse. I had felt very special when I arrived at school that day, the bell hadn’t gone for lessons yet, and the kids playing outside saw me arrive at school in the ‘Hos and Cart’.  Everyone loved riding with Freddie.

            I was so lost in my thoughts I hadn’t noticed we had passed the road ends, and the tip, and the bus was slowing down by our house.  There were no bus stops in Sommerton, only a little bus shelter outside the pub, the bus just stopped where you asked it to.  The red telephone box was the land mark the bus looked for. The bus driver got from behind the wheel and helped my mum get off the bus with her big case.  Bus drivers were friendly back then and usually drove on the same route, so they knew you by first name.  My oldest brother Jim, was a bus driver for a while.  The bus pulled away and my mum stood there for a few seconds, maybe like me, she didn’t want her holiday to be finished. “Ok Chicken” she said “Let’s go!” We started to walk across the gravel to our house.  We lived on the far end of a row of three houses.  I liked ours the best because it had its own private walled garden, the other two houses had to share a garden and entry way.  The three houses were whitewashed and didn’t have many windows facing this way which was towards the road, the all faced the other side where the gardens were, and looked over the fields and the little wood at the end of our garden.  They all belonged to the farm and the other two were inhabited by farm workers and their families.  My mum was special, because she worked inside the farm-house.  She cooked and cleaned and made beds, but they treated her really well, and were nice to me too.  Most of my clothes came from there and even though they were worn, they were nice clothes.

            We got to our house and walked around the side to the door that opened into the kitchen, this is the one we used the most.  My mum took out her big key and opened the door, you had to push it hard as sometimes it jammed, so she used her shoulder and pushed the door open.  Home sweet home!  There was a note on the table. ‘Pop round when you get home, I have some milk and bread for you’. It was from Mrs. Hodges, the lady my mum worked for.  We didn’t have a fridge back then, everything was kept in a larder, which had stone floors and was cold, but not cold enough to leave milk in for a week.  We emptied all of the dirty clothes out of the case, onto the kitchen floor, ready for washing, and then I helped carry the case upstairs.  We quickly put everything away.  The big clock on the wall said it was seven o clock.  No wonder I was hungry.  My mum told me to get a wash and get ready for bed, while she went around to Mrs. Hodge’s and picked up the bread.  I ran some water in the bath, not too much, just enough so I could sit in it and get a good wash, and then I got dried and put on my nightie.  Just as I got downstairs my mum came back.  She looked tired, but was carrying a big basket of food. Mrs. Hodges was good to us.  I think she felt sorry for my mum because she wasn’t married anymore.  Mrs. Hodge’s husband had died a few years earlier, but she was rich, and had a big house she shared with three grown up sons and two grown up daughters (when the daughters weren’t at boarding school), she knew how my mum struggled so she often helped out. I sat at the kitchen table and waited for something to eat.  The basket contained a ham shank with lots of delicious looking meat on, crusty homemade bread, peas pudding, a pat of farm butter and some fresh dairy milk. It didn’t take long to make ham and peas pudding sandwiches, washed down with hot tea.  I felt so much better. After eating we cleared the pots into the sink and then sat down on the little sofa and watched our favorite show on the little black and white television.  ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’ with Jimmy Tarbuck.  I loved watching this, especially ‘Beat the Clock’.  I liked a lot of things on the telly, but Sunday Night at the London Palladium had to be my favorite.  At the end, everyone stood on a big carousel that turned, and they all waved. The women wore fancy swimsuits that were glittery, and they wore feathers in their hair.  The women had a name, I think it was the ‘Tiller Girls’, they were all blonde and very beautiful, like film stars.

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.