German Ghost Story

Dortmund - Borsigplatz

 I told you I was getting organized with a come back, and here it is. This is a story I am currently working on, not finished yet, but close. I was lucky enough to find a photograph of Borsigplatz (don’t you just love google) so hopefully this will give some perspective to my story.  This round-a-bout was just about three blocks from where we lived, it’s where the supermarket and restaurants were. I may go back and visit one day.

 I think I am going to call this story ‘A walk in the Park’, but that could change. I was not going to post this story on my blog, but it actually helps me with my first edit if I do.  This story brings back a lot of memories and reminds me of how exciting life was back then. Enjoy!

CHAPTER ONE

It was July 4th 1982 and the weather in Dortmund was so hot it was almost unbearable.  There was no air conditioning and we lived in the Penthouse (so to speak), well at least it was the very top floor of an old building that had been turned into apartments. Heat rises of course, so it felt hotter than hell.  There was no balcony, the window in the living room was actually in the sloping roof, and opened up to the sky.  This window was wide open, but only let in hot air and little particles of silver that shimmered in the sun and although very pretty, I can’t be sure if it was good for the lungs. The shimmering silver shower was courtesy of the huge chemical plant that was less than a mile away.  I probably shouldn’t mention the name of the plant in this litigious society, but it was one of the largest suppliers of pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial chemicals in Europe, the US and Asia. I have to say, I have suffered no health issues from my proximity to the chemical plant, nor has anyone else to my knowledge, but the shower was certainly a spectacle. On that particular day I sat in that rooftop window and with my legs dangling over the ledge and watched the street below. It was a Sunday afternoon and there weren’t many passers-by. I am guessing that people were staying in their homes and away from the heat of the day.  Those people who did pass by were both amused horrified at my position, half in and half out of the window on the third floor of the building.  Those people who looked up either laughed at me and waved as they passed by, or yelled up at me with alarmed voices.  I had no idea what they were shouting about of course, I had only been in the country for a few months and not quite mastered the language yet. Maybe they thought I was about to jump.  My meager knowledge of the German language could get me by in bars (beer and wine was easy to order), or shopping and I could even get around on the local trams, but someone shouting up at me in German?  I just waved down at them and smiled causing most to continue walking shaking their heads as they did so. 

            Let me tell you a little bit about where I lived. The street was called Robert Strasse, and the area was Borsigplatz.  I am sure that spelling is wrong as it’s been a while since I had to write or talk in German.  I loved living there though.  Borsigplatz was an Italian area on the outskirts of Dortmund. Les was in the British army, and due to the lack army housing at the time, we were given what was called ‘overseas rent allowance’ to pay for an apartment.  Luckily Borsigplatz was only a short drive, or tram ride to the both the military base where Les was stationed and the military base on which I worked. We were very happy to find this place, which had been recently renovated.  With the help of a German-speaking friend we negotiated a good price and moved in with our scant furniture.  It really was my dream apartment and much nicer than the army accommodation!  It was on the top floor of a three-story L shaped building and ours was the only door on the top floor so we had some privacy. The living area was beautiful, up in the attic with a sloping ceiling. Stained beams divided the living area and eating area. There were two small bedrooms, a very small kitchen and a small modern bathroom. The living room itself was snug and was just big enough for our typically English overstuffed three-piece suite, a coffee table and our TV. Of course back in the eighties we also had two video recorders, a VHS and a Betamax.  Does anyone still know what a Betamax is??? I swear those machines were way better than the VHS recorders, but VHS were the ones that survived.  Now they are a relic of the past as we use DVD’s and Blu Ray.  How quickly times change. 

 

 

A Peek at ‘A Walk in the Park’ – my next novella

Notes on the situation

Viktor was dead. He was alive but drunk when Anna left him. He knew where I lived because I had seen him (I think it was him) watching our building on the Sunday night I first met Anna and on other occasions. Maybe he had followed me home that night. Was it him I saw in camp playing tricks with me? Or was that his brother?  If it was Viktor, it was an angry spirit not a real person. Visitations/events in our apartment had happened over the last couple of days.

Questions for Anna

Did the papers say when Viktor died?

What did Viktor’s brother look like?

What did Herr Rutkowski look like?

Did she know of any relations Herr Rutkowski may run to? (I needed to talk to him, he was key to the whole thing and may know what happened and how the Evil Cossack died)

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 Seven – The Storm

My story is almost finished.  One more chapter to go.  I hope  you have enjoyed my story and will keep reading. I have one shorter story, which I may start blogging  sometime in June.  Lots to do now and hard to keep up.  This blog has been a starting point for me, and given me the confidence (thanks to your comments) to continue sharing stories from my life. Every single story I am writing at the moment is based on events that truly happened to me.  I embellished a little to make it fun, but there is a great deal of truth in what I write.  For now anyway.  Enough of my ramblings, let’s get on to the next chapter.  I hope you enjoy it, feel free to comment. Happy Mothers Day.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN 

            We arrived at the gate to the playground just as Mr. Robinson rang the bell for assembly.  He stood by the school doors as everyone filed through them.  Judy and I tagged on to the back and stopped as we got to the door.  Mr. Robinson, Mrs. Ball has taken Sonia home, she had a fall on the way to school.  I think the lightning startled her and she fell over.  She asked us to tell you, and to let you know she would be here soon.  Mr. Robinson looked slightly amused. “Lightning you say, I heard a couple of rumbles of thunder, but I never saw any lightning.  Are you sure?”  I nodded my head and was just about to speak when a huge fork of lightning crackled over to our left in the cornfield, followed almost immediately by an enormous clap of thunder.  We all ran inside quickly because when the thunder and lightning was that close together, it meant the storm was right overhead.  It was even more dangerous because there was no rain.  Dry lightning was bad when the corn was turning yellow.  I heard Freddie say that one day when we were riding in his horse and cart.  Mrs. Ball was the only other teacher apart from Mr. Robinson, so we all got together in one class and Mr. Robinson decided to tell a story.  He liked stories, and took this one from his Hans Christian Anderson book.  I enjoyed his stories, but I couldn’t concentrate, I was hypnotized by the storm.  It got so dark that we had to put the lights on, the sky was black and a howling wind seemed to come from nowhere. I was very glad we weren’t still walking along the road to school.  I wasn’t usually afraid of thunder and lightning, in fact I enjoyed it, but this was a little scary.  The trees outside in the orchard were blowing so bad that the blossoms were flying off sideways, making it look like a pink and white blizzard. Far off, in the teacher’s staff room the phone was ringing.  Mr. Robinson ignored it as he was trying to keep everyone’s attention and if he left to answer the phone his class, especially the infants, might focus on what was going on outside.  I could tell Mr. Robinson was a little uneasy too.  It was like night outside our school and it looked like the sun had a big blanket over it. The phone stopped ringing for a moment, but then started again.  I think Mr. Robinson had decided he should answer it, and stood up to do so when something hit the big window at the side of the classroom.  A branch had blown off a tree and hit the window with such force that the window cracked, catching the end of the branch as it did so and leaving it flapping and banging as it hung there threatening to break in.  Lynne, one of the younger children, started crying and Mr. Robinson went over to her to try to calm her down.  Judy, who was younger than me and not normally in the same classroom, came and sat next to me, her little clammy hand clasped mine and we sat there wondering if the world was going to end.  It felt like it was.  Mr. Robinson gathered us all together and led us into the passage way by the cloakroom, he was trying to be cheerful and not alarm us, but by now several kids were crying.  He told us all to sit down against the wall and explained we were safer there, in the corridor because there were only a couple of small windows , so if any more tree branches were flying around, we wouldn’t be hurt by breaking glass.  Almost on cue, we heard a huge crashing noise as the window in the class room we had just left, finally gave in to the flapping branch, and shattered.  Two or three kids screamed and some just continued to whimper.

            I had never been in a hurricane, and I didn’t know if this was a hurricane, but it felt like one.  I could see things flying past the little windows in the cloakroom.  Branches, leaves, and other things I couldn’t make out.  They looked like flying people, the sort sometimes seen in book illustrations, not quite cartoons, but not totally real either, it was scary, hurricanes couldn’t make people fly about could they? I rubbed my eyes and looked again and was sure I saw a face staring in the cloakroom window, a sad pale face with huge eyes looking directly at me, and then it was gone. I saw what looked like seats and clothes flying by too. It was the darkness outside playing tricks with the shadows from inside.  I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, and as I did so, I must have squeezed Judy’s hand too.  It sounded way in the distance, but I could hear her crying “Stop, stop, you are hurting me” I opened my eyes and released my grip, she immediately snatched her hand away from me.  The wind seemed to be calming down a little, I could hear someone else crying, the sound was not coming from the group of children crouched against the wall, it was coming from the infants classroom at the far end of the corridor. I tried to see who was crying all alone in the classroom just as the lights went out.  Everyone screamed!

            Mr. Robinson was talking to everyone in a calming voice telling them it would be all right and it was most likely a branch falling on a power line that had caused the lights to go out. Judy was holding  my hand again and was whimpering quietly. I hadn’t screamed, I had hardly noticed the lights go out, I was trying to see who was in the doorway of the infants class, it was dark, but I knew someone was there.  Lightning flashed, in that split second of light I saw an angel looking in my direction, there were tears running down her cheeks. It was the little girl from my dream, and from the beach in Blackpool.  It looked like a light was shining from within her, her curls were blowing softly as if there was a breeze, even though she was inside and there was none, she was looking out of the window, up to the sky. She didn’t look frightened, just sad. She raised her arm up to one side, almost like she was reaching up to hold someone’s hand and then lightning flashed again and she was gone.

            Now I was scared because something just wasn’t right.  I had a feeling in my tummy, just below my ribs, it was an uncomfortable sickening feeling.  It felt like the air had been sucked out of me.  This was the very first time I had that feeling. As I got older, it was something I felt often, but in 1964 I was only seven and it felt wrong, I could hardly breathe. Tears trickled silently down my face, I didn’t really know why, but I was more scared right then than I had ever been in my whole life. The wind was still howling outside, but not so much.  It was still very dark both outside and in. Judy was holding my hand still and I could feel her looking at me. I daren’t look up because I was afraid of what I would see.  I felt like this day and the whole world, had gone crazy.  Although the little girl didn’t look scared, seeing her had made me scared, it made me think of my sunstroke dream again, and all of the horrible sounds and smells it brought with it. Lights flashed outside, very close and I was scared even more. “Looks like Mrs. Ball made it, it’s a miracle” Mr. Robinson was talking now and sounded genuinely relieved. The flashing lights I had seen were the headlights of her little Morris Minor. I looked along the corridor and saw her by the front doors, which were made of glass.  She had trouble opening them and I willed her to come in quickly.  There were things outside that could follow her in, things that needed to stay outside, things that were just beyond our vision, but they were there, waiting for the opportunity to come in and move among us.  Mrs. Ball looked awfully disheveled, her normally neatly curled hair, looked like it had been pulled through a hedge backwards, but she made it through the doors and she actually turned around and locked the doors after she entered, maybe she had seen the faces too.  She stood by Mr. Robinson and they looked at each other as though their eyes were talking.  Mrs. Ball took the younger kids to one end of the corridor and started talking to them, Mr. Robinson stayed with me and one or two of the older kids.  Our whole school, which was a converted church, only had twelve pupils, so we were a small group, which under the circumstances was a good thing.  A large group of kids could quickly get out of control in a situation like this. 

            I don’t know how long the phenomenon outside lasted.  I never looked at the clock on the wall, but when the lights came back on, we were all very relieved. The wind died down and it got lighter outside. Mrs. Ball led us all into the assembly room and sat down at the piano, she started playing ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ which was one of her favorite hymns.  We didn’t need any one to tell us to sing. Everyone sang their little hearts out, even the Jehovah’s Witness kids who didn’t normally join us to sing hymns. They didn’t need help with the words either, they sang louder than anyone.  The sun came up again, the wind dropped and then it rained, not a hard drenching downpour, just a gentle early summer rain.  Mr. Robinson led us all to the doors that opened on to the playground and we all stood and looked at an amazing sight.  The playground was covered in petals, pink apple blossom petals, it looked beautiful.  Mrs. Ball and Mr. Robinson looked at each other and then opened the doors, the rain was easing up and we all ran outside, it smelled so wonderful and fresh out there.  We ran around the playground as if we had been imprisoned for days instead of a couple of hours, we kicked apple blossom into the air, we bent down and picked it up and threw it all around us. We lifted up handfuls of it and pressed it to our noses.  I forgot how scared I had been and joined in, the mood was contagious. Kids heal quickly and I was healing again.  The little girls smiling face still haunted me, but I dismissed it quickly, she was probably still on my mind from Blackpool and my mum always said that your mind played funny tricks with you sometimes.

            Melvyn, my first childhood crush, was standing at the far end of the playground, quietly on his own, no one noticed him but me, probably because I was the only one who had a crush on him. He was looking up at a tree at the edge of the cornfield.  I followed his gaze. At first I thought the tree was full of blossoms and toilet paper, which was an odd combination in itself.  I went and stood by Melvyn, next to the wall, to get a closer look.  He looked at me, and instead of pushing me or making fun of me, like he normally would.  He just said, “How did that happen?” I looked at the tree again and saw it was full of pink ribbons!  Full is a slight exaggeration, but there were about thirty pink satin ribbons fluttering from the branches, the same sort of ribbons that the little girl from my dreams wore in her hair. No one noticed us standing there, and in a little while, Mr. Robinson rang the big school bell and we all went back inside.  Melvyn and I didn’t say a word, just went back to class.

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.

Name that Story – Chapter Three – Lost and Found!

This is how it looked in 1964

Here we go again, chapter three for you to read.  I still haven’t had any title suggestions! I am starting to get ideas myself as I read through it again though.  Look at this photo! Black and white. I love it, this really does bring back memories. It makes me feel pretty old too! I hope you enjoy what happened next.  Happy reading! You should all register with my blog, then  you will get automatic updates when I publish another chapter. Thanks for reading!

CHAPTER THREE – LOST AND FOUND

My next memory is opening my eyes to bright sunshine.  The ice cream van was gone!  I pushed myself up onto my elbows, but that’s as far as I dare move for a while. I felt like I had just woken up.  I didn’t have any ice cream but, next to me, on the sand was a half-crown.  Back in those days you still had a silver coin called a half-crown.  It was two shillings and sixpence, and enough to buy two very good ice creams.  I scooped it up, and tried to pull myself together. I wasn’t sure what had happened to me, but I was really glad to see I was back on Blackpool beach.  The sun was shining and people were happily playing in the sand and in the water.  I could hear the bells jingling around the necks of the donkeys as they walked along by the water’s edge. I sat there a little longer trying to gather my thoughts and try to figure out what had happened. 

            I could see the ice cream van a little further along the beach, an ice cream sounded even more tempting now than it did the first time.  I looked up at the sky, the plane was still droning overhead!  I could see Blackpool tower and Blackpool Pier.  The pleasure beach was set back from the beach, but I could see it.  I could even hear screams of excitement as people rode the ‘big dipper’ roller coaster.  I could hear the crazy clown laughing outside the house of fun. I got up and walked a little shakily along to where the ice cream van was parked now.  I didn’t really know how long I had been in my little nightmare, but it couldn’t have been long as the ice cream van had not moved too far along the beach.  There was a much longer queue this time, so I got up and joined the end of it.  I felt like I had waited forever before I finally got to the front. I put my half-crown on the counter and said “please can I have a lime split and a ninety-nine?” I looked up at the ice cream man, the same little Italian man, but this time he had a quizzical look in his eyes.  “You sure? Or are you gonna run and disappear before I turn around again?” and he swept my half-crown off the counter, making sure he got paid this time.  I really wanted to ask him what had happened, and how long ago it was since he last saw me, but I daren’t.  I was just a kid and he probably wouldn’t have answered me anyway. He gave me my change before he gave me the ice creams.  I got a shilling change.  I hoped my mum would let me keep it.  I could do a lot with a shilling. I clutched it in the hand I was carrying the lime split in, and started walking back along the beach, licking my soft ice cream and munching on the chocolate flake as I went.  I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to the people around me until I realized I had reached the pier and still not come across my mum.  I turned my back to the pier and looked back along the crowded beach, trying to pick out my mum among the crowds.  Without thinking I finished my ice cream, mostly because it was melting and dripping up my arm.  When I had finished eating it I retraced my steps along the beach, walking slowly and looking from side to side as I did so.  I kept looking up to see the ice cream van, and keeping myself lined up with it.  It had moved further along the beach now, and had a new line of people waiting to be served.  That ice cream van must be like the Tardis from Dr. Who, bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside, because it was selling an awful lot of ice cream for a very small van.  I walked all the way back along to it and still didn’t see my mum, or Tim, or Maurice. I felt something cold and sticky running up my arm.  It was my mum’s lime split.  I wasn’t a huge lime split fan…but I decided rather than waste it I should eat that too, so I did.  I stood with my back to the ice cream van until it moved on again.  I ate the ice lolly and thought about what had happened and what I should do. 

            What if my nightmare had interfered with time, and I was in a different year, or a different month.  I didn’t know anyone on the beach so how did I know these were the same people who were here before?  I was scared now, not terrified, but I was scared.  I stood and looked around.  No one took any notice of me!  I looked long and hard to see if I could see my mum in her pretty pink dress with the black trim.  She was nowhere in sight.  I was suddenly aware that someone was standing in front of me.  It was a small girl and she did look familiar.  She had blonde hair, which fell on her shoulders in soft curls, tied back off her face with a pretty pink ribbon.  She was very young, probably about three or four and she was looking up at me with big blue eyes.  I felt a chill run down my spine, was this little girl from my nightmare? Was it still happening? I was really confused now.  Of course the little girl I had held in my arms was dirty and disheveled, and this little girl certainly was not. She was like a little angel.  I had a serious sense of déjà vu, when she reached her arms up to me.  I was a little scared to pick her up as my hands were covered in sticky melted ice cream and sand, but I really didn’t have a choice, she launched herself into my arms.  She looked directly into my eyes and put her arms around my neck and gave me a hug and then she pointed along the beach. I didn’t have any idea why, but I walked in the direction she was pointing. I walked slowly, still looking for my mum.  The little girl was soft, and warm, not like the child from my dream, she had been cold and still.  We hadn’t gone far when a young woman came running towards me, she was talking frantically in a foreign, but very pretty language.  Was it French? The little girl started bouncing up and down in my arms and reached out to the woman who folded her into her arms and hugged her and kissed her all over her chubby pink cheeks.  I stood there feeling helpless and a little silly.  The young woman hugged me and said “merci mon petit, merci” and then walked away with the child in her arms. The little girl was looking over her mother’s shoulder as she walked away.  She was smiling at me and gave me a little wave, opening and closing her little chubby hand, the way small children do. I got the déjà vu thing all over again, but I was glad I made someone happy. I still couldn’t find my mum.  I watched as mother and child walked away from me, still feeling a little troubled, but my nightmare (daymare?) was starting to fade away in my mind, as I was now more worried about where my mum was.  I stood for a long time just looking around, I didn’t cry, but I really wanted to.  I wanted to sit down, but if my mum was looking for me, she wouldn’t see me if I was sitting down.

            “Are you lost?” I heard someone say so I turned around in the direction the voice came from.  A lady was sitting in a deck chair behind me, holding a book over her face to stop the sun from shining in her eyes.  I didn’t trust myself to answer her because I knew I was very close to tears.  I nodded my head!  She stood up, and looked around, not knowing what she was looking for, but she looked anyway.  “Who were you with?” she asked.  “My mum, she was wearing a pink dress” I told her.  The lady looked around again.  “OK, stand right here for a while, so I can make sure nobody tries to hurt you.  If you don’t see your mum by the time my Alfie comes out of the water, I will take you up there to the green van, it where everyone goes to find their lost kids”  I looked in the direction she was pointing, and sure enough, there was a green van parked on the promenade.  I could see kids faces pressed up against the window, were they lost kids? I didn’t want to be one of them!  I felt a lot like crying now.  I must have stood there for another five minutes before ‘Alfie’ returned.  He was a very funny looking man.  He was dripping wet, but his hair was still perfectly swept back from his face, making him look like a wet waxworks figure.  His big handlebar mustache was dripping with water too, but still fit perfectly between his nose and mouth, with no hair out-of-place.  “Alfie” the woman said, “this little girl has lost her mummy, I am going to take her up to the green van so she can be found again”.  He looked at me and smiled, he could see I was ready to cry.  He bent down and reached into a bag which was on the deck chair next to his wife and pulled out a clean white handkerchief, which he handed to me.  I clutched it in my sticky sandy hand and thanked him.  My voice was very small and tired now.  He looked over to his wife “go on my pet, do your good deed and take this little girl to the van”  He handed her some money and said “bring me an ice cream on the way back”.  I felt like this whole day revolved around ice creams.  The lady (Doris her name was) walked up the beach with me, she reached down and took hold of my hand, that’s when I realized I had lost the shilling change from the ice cream.  It really wasn’t a good day.  A shilling was a lot of money.

            We walked across the hot sand and then climbed up the steps to the promenade, where the green van was parked.  As we approached I realized that the faces I had seen pressed up against the window were painted.  There were no kids in the van.  Doris stepped onto the van with me and it lurched heavily to one side with her weight. It felt like we were on a boat. She sat me down in the front seat and spoke to the lady sitting in the driving seat.  I heard the lady say that the van would park here for another fifteen minutes, and then move further up the beach and park there for an hour.  She said no one had been here asking for me yet. Doris gave the lady her name and address and then she came over and sat down next to me.  She told me she was sure my mum would come and find me, but if she didn’t the driver would let her know, and she would come and take me home with her and Alfie, so I wouldn’t have to spend the night with strangers.  They would be strangers too, but they looked kind.  Doris gave me a hug and then went off to get Alfie’s ice cream.  The lady van driver told me that no one was ever lost for long, and Blackpool beach got very crowded at this time of the year, so it was easy to get lost.  It didn’t make me feel any better. Not only was I lost but, I had had a nightmare on the beach, had eaten my mum’s lime split, and lost her shilling change. I sat there on the verge of tears for what seemed hours, but I know it wasn’t that long.  The lady started up the engine on the little van.  She looked back at me and said, “We have to move along the beach now, don’t worry love, we will find your mum” I wasn’t so sure.  We lurched forward a little way, and then stopped again. 

I saw my mum’s face as she climbed onto the first step in front of me, she looked like she had been crying, but she smiled when she saw me.  I did cry then, big heaving sobs that shook my whole body. My mum sat down next to me and put her arms around. She hugged me so tight it was hard to breathe, but it was nice. Between sobs I told her I had eaten her lime split and lost the shilling change.  She didn’t seem to mind, she just hugged me even more tightly. I did stop crying eventually and my mum thanked the lady and gave her a pound note.  That was a lot of money, so I knew how happy she was to see me. She took my hand and held it tight and we climbed down onto the seafront. The Lost Children Van pulled away as the lady went off on her quest to reunite more kids with their worried parents. Maurice and Tim were sitting on a wooden bench by the railings with their backs to us.  Tim was smoking and Maurice was whistling ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’.  It made me feel very happy, like the trials and tribulations of the last couple of hours were behind me and I was ready to have some fun again. I giggled for no reason.  Maurice heard me and stood up.  His hat was pushed back on this head and his hair was a little ruffled but, he was the best thing I had seen in while (apart from my mum).  I let go of my mum’s hand, jumped onto the wooden bench and gave him a huge hug.  Tim stood up and stamped on his cigarette to put it out.  He actually gave me a hug too, which was surprising as he had never paid me too much attention.  He was nice enough to me, just didn’t appear that interested.  Not like he was in my mum, he watched her all of the time. We all sat on the bench for a while. Tim and my mum talked about what to do that evening while I told Maurice about my little adventure.  I started telling him about my funny old dream, which was a little fuzzy now, and he laughed and told me I had probably got a bout of sunstroke.  I didn’t really know what sunstroke was, but he said my face was very red and so were my arms and back, so I had been in the sun too long.  It was decided we would all go back to our Bed and Breakfast and get bathed and changed and go and get some nice supper together.  That sounded good.  It was five o clock now so by the time we got cleaned up, and dressed up, it would be after six and I would be hungry, despite the two ice creams I had already eaten. 

We all walked along the seafront together, it was still hot, but there was a breeze now.  ‘The Blackpool Breeze’ Maurice called it.  My mum was walking behind with Tim, I think they were holding hands.  I walked in front with Maurice.  I hopped and skipped and sang, and made him laugh. The day was ending well, my nightmare on the beach almost forgotten.  We got back to the little B&B and went our separate ways.  Maurice and Tim had rooms on the top floor, and my mum and I were on the second floor.  I was glad we weren’t too far up because my legs were tired. My mum went and had a bath, while I gave myself a good wash in the wash basin that was in our room.  My face was were red, and felt hot.  I really had been in the sun too long.  I brushed and brushed at my hair to get all of the sand out.  My mum came back in the room and smelled so good.  It was that perfume she always wore.  I have no idea what it was called, but it smelled like roses.  She had put her curlers in before getting a bath which she did often because the steam from the bath worked with the curlers to make her hair curl more quickly. She sat there on the edge of the bed and put on ‘her face’.  It was hard putting a face on.  You had to first put a layer of colored cream all over your face.  Then you drew on your eyebrows with a pencil. Next you put paint on your eyelids.  Then you spit in a little container of black stuff, and rubbed a brush in it. You used the brush and blackened your eyelashes.  I hoped I never had to do all of that.  It looked hard.  My mum padded powder all over her face, and then put a very pink lipstick on.  She did look pretty.  She put on a black dress with shiny beads all around the neck.  I had only seen it once before when she went to a fancy party in the village hall.  She put on her pearls and her stiletto shoes, and then she took out her curlers.  She looked so pretty, I just stood and looked at her, frightened to touch her incase I spoiled something. She looked down and me and gave me a hug. “Come on then, let’s get your pretty dress out of the wardrobe” she said.  I was going to be wearing the beautiful dress she made me when the village hall opened.  It was heavy yellow brocade. I had worn it on the stage when I presented a big bouquet of flowers to Lady Davinia Vain at the opening ceremony.  I am sure that wasn’t her name, but that’s how it sounded.  I had to curtsey and give her the flowers.  She wore white gloves and a big hat, and had smiled at me and told me how pretty my dress was.  I remember standing up when she said this and telling her my mum made it.  That made her laugh, I said it loud enough that the whole village hall laughed and clapped. My mum helped me put the dress on, I felt very posh.  I wore little yellow sandals with it and I felt very nice, but not as pretty as my mum.

My mum looked at her wrist watch, it was just after six thirty.  “Come on, time to go, Maurice and Tim will be waiting” We left the room, as my mum locked the door I looked over the banister and saw Maurice and Tim waiting for us downstairs, so I ran down to them.  Maurice picked me up and held me out in front of him.  “Don’t you look a toff” he said.  I giggled, I felt very happy.  He put me down and looked up at the stairs. Tim was watching my mum come down, smiling at her as she did. She looked like a film star.  I had never seen her look like that before and I was very glad she was my mum.  Even her eyes looked different, shiny and happy.  We walked out of the B&B and down the stairs onto the street.  It was still light, and warm, but not too warm.  I felt very grown up, going out at this time of night.  “Where are we going?” I asked to anyone who would listen to me.  Tim spoke up.  “I made reservations at Bella, our reservations are for seven o clock”  I had no idea what ‘Bella’ was so I looked up at Maurice, who looked down at me and said “Good Italian”  “Will I be able to get Ice Cream?” I asked “Oh, you will get ice cream like you never tasted before” he said. I knew it was going to be a good night!

Germany – A Walk in the Park!

Yes, I have started my fourth story set in Dortmund, Germany.  The year was 1982….the year of ra-ra skirts and leg warmers!!!!!

Watch this space for snippets of how it was in 1982.

Remember those days?

Name That Story!!!

It’s a competition!  On Saturday I am going to post the first chapter of my second story, which remains nameless.  I just can’t settle on a name. Please help.  If one of you can come up with a catchy name that fits the story, and is marketable, there will be a prize.  More details later……wait for chapter one.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I have just submitted ‘Guy at the Bar’ to another publisher.  Lets hope someone likes it. I just need one acceptance to give me some confidence. Almost finished my third story.  I may have my book together by Christmas.  Just trying to find my way around in this new hobby of mine. Keep reading and share my experiences. Almost ready to start posting my next story….when I have a title.  Maybe I should just publish it and let you guys help me decide on a title. There’s a thought.