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.

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!

Blackpool Tower Zoo – Back in the Day

The Zoo

It occurred to me that although I had heard lots of stories about the Zoo at the bottom of Blackpool Tower, I had never seen it.  I have not looked at the history, but from the photos I found on the internet, it looks like it may have been closed long before my trips to Blackpool.  It was more of a menagerie that a zoo.  My only recollection of  Tower Zoo,  are the stories I heard about ‘Young Albert’.  I hope all of these photos and snippets of information, bring my story to life.  I am enjoying myself with this, and I hope  you are too.  It’s nice to re-visit the past!  Have a good weekend and watch out for Chapter Three of my Blackpool Story, which I will post next week.  It is still a ‘Story with no name’.  I hope someone is going to change that for me. Looking forward to giving someone a gift certificate for $25. Its nice to win something and help someone (me) at the same time.  Happy Reading!

Name that Story Competition – Chapter Two – The Fire

Blackpool Beach – How it should look

I hope I didn’t make you wait too long for Chapter Two, and I hope it was worth waiting for.

The picture on the left is the Blackpool beach I knew and loved. It is not a glamorous place, but a fun place. Please enjoy the next part of my Story.  I am still waiting for suggestions for a title.  Enjoy!
 
CHAPTER TWO

It wasn’t much more than a whisper that came out of my mouth….something was happening! A huge shadow was crossing the sky, in time with the drone of the plane. I looked up, and then looked around me.  The beach had cleared, it was completely empty. I turned back to take the two ice creams and pay my money, but the ice cream van, and the old Italian were both gone. I was standing there alone on the beach.  The colors were fading too. It felt like time was standing still.  The waves were breaking on the sand still, but in slow motion.  I turned around in a full circle! There were no cars or people on the promenade. I heard sounds like a record being played at the wrong speed.  I turned around in a circle again and looked everywhere.  I was all alone.  Was I dreaming?  I squeezed my eyes shut and counted to ten before opening them again.  Nothing had changed, I was still alone!  Wait a minute, there was a sound! The drone of the plane was still there, well for a while anyway and then that was gone too! 

There was only darkness and silence.I felt very small and scared because I didn’t know what was happening.  I felt like a scene from a film at the cinema was playing out in front of me. Things started to accelerate, noise and action surrounded me. There were people on the beach, but not the same people that had been there earlier.  They were all speaking a different language, it may have been French, but I was seven and had never left England, so how would I know? People were running into the water and getting as close as they could to something that was burning there, I could feel the heat from where I was, it was bad. All of these people stood at the water’s edge as if frozen in time, crying and trying to edge closer to the fire. It was too hot! They were forced to stand and watch helplessly.  What was burning, was it the pier, how could something burn in the sea? I felt a small hand slip into mine and I turned around to see a small girl standing next to me, she was even younger than I was. Her face was all dirty, sooty looking, with two clean patches where she had been crying. She looked scared and helpless so I took her in my arms and held her.  She didn’t say anything, just hung on to me and cried quietly.  I almost forgot I was holding here while I watched the scene play out in front of me. I think I saw people trying to jump out of the fire, because I saw movement, but not for long. They looked like large fire flies flitting around the burning giant. It smelled bad too.  I could smell all sorts of burning smells, some like a petrol station, some like old furniture burning and some like…..well you don’t want to know about them.  Fire engines and ambulances had started arriving, but I knew it was too late.  Even a seven year old knew nothing could survive this.  I kept my arms tightly around the little girl, who didn’t move, or speak, her head pushed tightly between my neck and shoulder, not wanting to see what was happening. She was so light that I didn’t feel like I was holding anything at all.  No one took any notice of me.  People ran around me and almost through me as though I was invisible.   I got up walked to where the sand became a grassy bank.  A grassy bank that should not be there!  Where had Blackpool gone with its tower and busy streets? Where was the lively promenade or the ice cream van?  I thought I really must be having a nightmare.  It had to be the worst nightmare I had ever had.  So real, so awful!  It was starting to get dark! The people on the beach were now carrying torches.  More spectators arrived and just stood there watching. 

 Slowly, out of the flames, walked a band of people.

 I was seven years old, and had been enjoying a day on the beach in Blackpool.  Now Blackpool was gone and I was sitting on a grassy sand dune, at dusk, on my own. Well not quite on my own, I was hugging a small child. She was so still I had almost forgotten she was there. I hugged her even closer, more to give myself comfort than for her.  She was motionless, and very cold.  I wished I had been wearing something other than my green bathing costume, I didn’t feel cold, but I could have wrapped it around her chilled body.  She wasn’t shivering though, just very cold. I looked down at her sleeping face.  Her eyes were closed and she had her thumb in her mouth.  She looked peaceful, even though she still had the tear marks down her face. I looked up again and what I saw didn’t make sense to me.  People were standing around in groups; some were praying, others were crying, and some just talking in hushed voices.  There were firemen and police, all wading their way into the sea, trying to get nearer to the flames, which were still burning in the shallow water, but appeared to be submerging, the sea dowsing them. People walked out of the flames in two’s and three’s. It was all wrong! These people didn’t look hurt or even disheveled. They looked totally unharmed. They were walking right past the rescuers and then through the little groups of people who were scattered along the beach. No one paid them any attention. Why did no one see them?  They were walking at a steady pace, not fast, nor slow and were getting closer to me, almost heading for me. Then they started passing, slightly to my right. I stood up, so they could see me, the small girl still in my arms didn’t budge.  I tried to speak to the first person who passed me, he was wearing some sort of uniform, but the words froze in my throat.  I reached out to touch him and try to make him feel better because everyone else was ignoring him. He turned to me and smiled and gave me a little salute, but didn’t stop.  Maybe they had been told to go somewhere to get help or treatment for any injuries, but no one looked injured.  Why was that?  The fire had been intense, if anyone had survived, they would be badly hurt. It seemed like these people in uniform were leading the way, I turned around to see where they were headed, but they just seemed to disappear into the darkness.

The little girl in my arms had opened her eyes and was watching as the passengers passed by. An older lady stumbled as she walked past me and I reached out to try and help her, but she drew back from me and reached up to the man beside her, who helped her to get up.  It felt like a cold breeze was coming from these people! It was a gentle cool breeze and it smelled of lilies.  The girl in my arms started wriggling to be free, I held tightly on to her, I didn’t want her to be lost, or drowned.  All of the people passing by, looked like nice people, but this was no place for a small child on her own.  It was no place for me either.  Where was I?  A woman caught my eye when she was about ten feet or so away, she looked sad and confused and lost.  The little girl was trying to get out of my arms, silently but with determination. The woman saw her and walked faster, holding out her arms, tears filling her eyes. I didn’t feel the little girl leave my arms and pass into her mother’s arms, but she did.  They both looked at me gratefully, smiling silently.  I reached out to them both, feeling like I should go with them, but my arms passed right through them.  It scared me, but I knew this was going to happen.  Somewhere between the man in uniform passing by, and the child leaving my arms, I had worked out these people were no longer on this earth. I had seen ‘things’ before, even at my young age.  A cousin, who had long since passed away from a childhood disease, visited me from time to time.  I was used to her, but it was a shock at first.  She looked just like these people, calm, serene and at peace. They kept coming, I counted about a hundred of them, but it seemed like more. I still couldn’t understand why I was seeing them, or where I was, but I accepted it because it was happening.  Maybe I had been put here to take care of the child, who somehow had got separated from her mother. I felt good that I had helped someone, but I also felt I was at the beginning of the dream and not at the end.

 I stood and watched as the little band of people, unseen to the rest of the world, walked slowly past me.  I worried in case I was dead too, no one on the beach seemed to see me either. I almost felt compelled to join the line of souls silently drifting by me. I could see the last of them now, by the water’s edge, still walking slowly by the gathering crowds. They passed right through photographers who were taking photographs with their big camera’s and would report whatever had happened here, to the rest of world in the morning news papers. A priest was also standing on the wet sand, close to the breaking waves, with a group of people around him praying for the dead. I taken my eyes off the victims for a moment, but felt someone standing in front of me. I didn’t want to see who it was, I didn’t know why, but I didn’t want to look anymore.  I could feel a cool breeze against my skin and felt someone brushing my cheek.  I turned my face to the breeze.  It was Tim’s friend Maurice, still looking well dressed in his hat and coat, with his gold fillings gleaming. I stopped breathing.  How could this be? I wanted to run away. I felt the tears rolling down my cheeks. Maurice smiled at me, I went to him, wanting him to pick me up and make everything alright, but couldn’t move.  He bent down and touched my face again, but then had to walk on, behind him was Tim! Tim looked at me and smiled a very sad smile, but didn’t stop. Now I put my little hands together and prayed that I would wake up.  After Tim and Maurice, there was darkness.  I closed my eyes tightly and prayed hard. The only time I ever prayed was at night, kneeling by my bed, so I said the Lord’s Prayer and then blessed everyone who had passed by me tonight.  I still hoped that I would open my eyes and find myself lying in the little bed in the comfy Bed and Breakfast, with my mum sleeping soundly in the other bed. 

I opened my eyes and the noise hit me, sirens, people yelling, I could feel the heat of what remained of the flames. People were crying, wailing, the smell was horrific.  I looked behind me to see a glow on the sand dunes, but that was all that was left of those who passed by.  I looked back at the beach, where everyone was wading into the water with hoses, trying to extinguish the flames, but to no avail.  There was very little left to extinguish. Things started floating on the top of the water, things I didn’t want to see.  I felt sick, and tired and alone and very scared. There was another explosion and I dropped to the sand, not wanting to be part of this anymore.

 

COMPETITION TIME – NAME THAT STORY

Please can I have a ninety nine and a Lime Split

Here is the first chapter of my second story. I hope you like it.  A great deal of this story is true, more than you could even imagine. I really hope you enjoy reading it and can help me with the title.  I have not submitted this story to any magazines or competitions yet, so I am also open creative criticism.

I hope you like the photo, the internet is a wonderful thing, and this photo fits my story perfectly.  I lined up at this icecream van, or one just like it, dozens of times. I never shared it with a donkey though!

Chapter Two will be posted here in a few days.  Thanks for playing and I hope you enjoy the game.  

From you friend and budding author – Sandra!

Copyright © 2010 Sandra Thompson

Chapter One

July 1964 seems like such a long time ago now. I was on my summer holidays in Blackpool and the weather was gorgeous. There were a few puffy clouds in the sky, and a slight breeze, but it was as good as it gets in that part of the world.  Blackpool is not renowned for sunshine. It is on the northwest coast of England, a favorite resort for those people who lived in Liverpool and Manchester. The dreaded Irish found their way to Blackpool too, making the local lingo almost impossible to understand.  The place was and still is loud and brash, some of the streets are wide and noisy, packed with tourists, bingo halls and amusement arcades full of slot machines and cigarette smoke. The older streets were narrow and the wind whistled up them, howling like a banshee, but people love it.  Blackpool has a huge tower, with a zoo at the bottom.  There is quite a story about Tower Zoo and about ‘Young Albert’ who got a little too close to the lions and got eaten. I was never sure if it was true or not, but never got too close, when I visited, just in case. I don’t remember a great deal about my summer holiday, other than one very scary day which overshadowed everything else.  We stayed in a nice little B&B.  When I say ‘we’, I mean my mum and me.  There was only my mum and me; well I thought there was until Tim turned up.  Tim was a friend of my mum’s.  He was never around for long. He would show up from time to time and then we didn’t see him for months.  He was nice enough, a pleasant face, which if I had been older than seven, I might have found handsome, but he was in his forties and at seven I didn’t really know what handsome was.  Well maybe I did. Cheyenne Brody was handsome! Anyway, my mum and I were staying in Blackpool, and somehow Tim was there.  Tim and Maurice! I would never forget Maurice!  He was funny.  I remember he was always well put together.  Good looking clothes, at least they looked good to me.  Nice shoes, good overcoat, and he always wore a good looking hat too, with a little feather in the side.  He walked with a swagger helped along by a snazzy looking cane and he had several gold teeth.  They made him stand out in  a crowd.  He had graying hair, so I think he was a lot older than Tim, but I liked Maurice a lot.  He was funny, and natural.  I didn’t have a dad anymore, but if I could choose one, I would choose Maurice.  He was funny and he made me feel safe! 

            Another thing I remember about Blackpool that summer was the ‘Tower Ballroom’.  I ended up there, can’t remember if it was an afternoon ‘tea dance’, or a real evening dance, but  I remember my mum was all dressed up and looking very pretty, and dancing with Tim.  I was dancing with Maurice; my feet on his big suede lace up shoes. It was fun!  Maurice took me for fish and chips and then took me back to the B&B where he ‘babysat’ while my mum stayed out dancing with Tim.  He was sitting there, by the bed, hat pushed back on his head, with his feet on the table when I went to sleep.  He made me feel all warm inside.  Then when I woke up the next morning, he was gone, and my mum was there in the other bed, fast asleep with a head of pink spongy curlers and a smile on her face.  Even at seven years old, I knew the smile was put there by Tim. Maybe Tim was going to be my new dad.  That would be nice, not because of Tim, he didn’t have much time for me, but because it meant I would see more of Maurice, and he was fun, he pulled funny faces and really seemed to like me.

            Anyway enough of that, you have the background, now for the real event! We were sitting on beach towels, my mum and me, I had a green swimming costume on, it was stretchy and had little squares all over it, I remember every detail about it, in fact I still have an old black and white photo of me wearing it!  It tied around the back of my neck.  My mum was wearing a pretty pink dress, with black trim, a little dressy for the beach, but I realized why when Tim and Maurice turned up, bringing their deck chairs with them.  I don’t remember much about Tim at all that day, but Maurice was acting all funny and making me laugh! He took me down to the edge of the sea, where the sand was wet, and paid for me to have a donkey ride on a donkey called Silver. He walked next to the donkey as I rode, and I suspect the plan was to give Tim and my mum some time alone together.  I didn’t mind the donkey ride was fun, the bells jingling around the old donkey’s neck as we plodded along.  The sea breeze felt good against my skin. The ride couldn’t last forever though and we were soon back. It was a very hot day, I was covered in hot scratchy sand, but it felt good, that’s how summer holidays were supposed to be.  We all heard the crackly tune which announced the approaching ice cream van; it was ‘O Sole Mio’ of course because ice cream was Italian. Well good ice cream was Italian! Yes the ice cream van used to drive along the beach in Blackpool.  I was thinking how much I wanted an ice cream so I looked at my mum and she laughed and went to get her purse. I was excited at the thought of getting my ice cream and clutched the money in my sandy hand as ran along to the beach to get my 99, repeating in my head, ‘lime split for my mum and a 99 for me’.  There was a little queue at the van when I got there, but not too bad.  I joined the queue and waited patiently.  The beach was packed full of holidaymakers, families, couples, older kids on their own, everyone loved the beach.  They were building sand castles, kicking balls, having picnics. It was a bright colorful and happy scene, something to look back and remember during long winter afternoons at school when arithmetic didn’t keep my attention. I heard a plane droning above, a lazy summery sound that fitted in with lazy summery day. It was almost my turn to be served and the two kids ahead of me skipped away with their ice cream cones, no chocolate in theirs, I was getting a 99, it had chocolate in it too, which would be hard and icy cold from being stuck in the ice cream.  I could hardly wait. The old Italian face (ice cream vans of course were always owned by Italians, if they were good ice cream vans) peered over the counter in the side of  the van “wadda ya want little girl”…….something happened……  “A lime split and a 99 please”.

            Suddenly I felt like I had shrunk to the size of a pea!  I didn’t feel real at all!

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.