Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

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Synopses
Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 2: 1956


1 January 1956

Happy New Year, Jane!

Happy New Year, Peter!

Pickin’ A Chicken. I suppose they were choosing one for their Christmas lunch ...

Jane and I have decided to work on our diary together about once a month. And I’m going to keep a little notebook to write down anything important she tells me, so that I can remember to include it here each time.

Rock Island Line. What is that about?

Don’t ask me!

* * *

30 January

Love And Marriage. That makes a bit more sense.

Mummy discovered our diary in my bookshelf yesterday. I thought she might get angry, but she just went very quiet. Then I started wishing I had already told her about it, as Jane suggested at the start.

But she only read the first page, and then she put it straight back on the shelf. She said she was very impressed with my memory and my imagination — and that Robert must have been talking to me about what happened “that day”.

I was scared she might tell me to stop writing it, but she didn’t. And she said she wasn’t going to tell Daddy about it.

I know she’s very proud of you, Peter, and I also think it would have hurt her too much to read any more. So let’s just carry on with it. There’s no need to mention it again.

Okay.

The Ballad of Davy Crockett. Was he the king of England, or somewhere else?

I’m rather bored at school. Everything goes so slowly. Miss Johnson is always teaching us things I learnt from Mummy a long time ago.

Don’t be too unhappy about that. It will probably get better soon. Meanwhile, take advantage of the spare time to use your imagination. And you do enjoy playing with some of the children, don’t you?

Only two or three, really, Jane. The younger ones. Especially Catherine.

Sixteen Tons. And what does that song mean?

So, I’ve finished all the Noddy stories in the Library, including the very latest ones that arrived before Christmas! What shall I read now?

I enjoyed the Troublesome Engines books.

Oh! How did you manage to read them?

I just watched over other children’s shoulders in the Library!

Of course! Okay, I’ll start on those next!

* * *

29 February

Zambesi.

Jane, Mummy said today is a very special extra day. I don’t understand that. Do you?

I think it’s something to do with how we measure the time and how fast the Earth spins around the sun. Wait, that doesn’t sound quite right ...

We’re not spinning around! I’d get dizzy!

No, not just you, Peter! Everybody and everything, I think. But I don’t understand it properly myself yet. So you mustn’t try too hard!

But who gave us this extra day?

I don’t know. Maybe it was God.

Ah. That’s something else I don’t understand yet ...

Only You.

I’ve read all ten of the Troublesome Engines stories this month. The lady says there will be more of those in the Library too, in the future, but I’ll have to find something else for now.

* * *

31 March

Memories Are Made Of This. I think I understand that one! But not Chain Gang.

I’ve read two whole Rupert annuals this month. The lady says there are about twenty altogether. At this rate I can read them all by the end of the year!

You’re already very good at sums for your age, Peter!

I love them! It’s still my favourite subject at school. Everything else is still really boring. And when Mummy takes me back there each day after lunch, we all have to rest our heads on the tables and have a little sleep. I don’t need a little sleep then! I want to learn new things, just like I used to with her at that time every day!

I think it’s because a lot of the other children have been running around in the playground after their own lunch at school, and they need to calm down before the lessons start again.

Oh, I see.

Are you enjoying your new life, Jane?

Aha! I’d been wondering when you would ask about me again!

Yes, I am — especially every minute I spend with you, even though we don’t talk together as much as I was hoping we would ...

Well, I’m afraid I do forget about you quite often, when I’m busy with other things ...

Oh, of course you do, my dear brother! I wasn’t telling you off. I was probably being too honest with you! I’d just really enjoy some more of your time and attention. I do realise I can’t have it, though. Please don’t worry.

But because I still do have so much time to watch and think about everything, I have been feeling rather frustrated myself ...

In what way?

Oh, I’m just finding this area of the country a little dull. I’ve already seen some much more inspiring landscapes ...

But I don’t think I should talk about that any more — at least not yet. Is that okay?

Of course it is, Jane. So, night-night, then.

Night-night, Peter.

* * *

28 April

See You Later Alligator and Great Pretender.

What very strange words in those songs!

We went to stay with Nanny and Grandpa for two days at Easter. It’s rather dark and quiet inside their house. But Auntie Barbara’s going to have a baby later in the year!

Before Robert and I were allowed to go to bed, Nanny insisted on washing our feet in a little tin bath! Mummy never does that! Daddy says it’s because they always had dirty feet when he was a boy, because the street was so muddy!

Poor People of Paris.

While we were there we walked around to Auntie Anne’s house. That was ever so quiet and dull too. Owen let me play with his pinball game. It’s made of very dark wood and metal and it looks really old.

That’s because it is, Peter.

* * *

27 May

Who’s Elvis Presley, Jane?

He’s a new singer. In America, that other big continent I told you about. He’s singing songs in a way that’s a bit different from what most people are used to. That’s why they’re talking about him on the telly.

Do a lot of the songs we hear come from America?

Quite a lot, yes.

Is that why I don’t understand most of them?

I expect so.

Do you?

Sometimes. I think.

I heard about the new Eurovision Song Contest on the radio the other day. Were all those songs from America too?

No, Peter! We’re part of Europe! It’s another very big continent. A bit like America, but also very different, I think.

* * *

24 June

Happy Birthday, Peter!

Happy Birthday, Jane! Do you know what I’m going to get?

Yes, but I’m not telling. You’ll find out when Daddy comes home tonight!

Oh, I’m so excited!


Evening

A racing car! Mummy and Daddy bought me a wonderful, brand-new silver racing car! It has a big Number 6 on the sides! I gave Daddy a big hug because I’m sure it cost a lot of money. I drove it round and round the garden before my party! And then my friends all had a go too!

And we had a lovely cake with five candles! And Daddy took some photographs. I wish we could have seen them straight away, but he says we have to wait a few days.

Robert was allowed to have one of his friends at the party. They both seemed very bored.

Heartbreak Hotel.

That’s Elvis Presley’s first hit song, Peter.

I know. But I don’t understand that one either. Or Blue Suede Shoes. Fancy singing a song about your shoes!

How old are you today, Jane?

Well, I suppose I’m really only five, just like you. But as far as I can tell, I’m more like a ten-year-old already. And you certainly seem a lot brighter than most five-year-olds ...

Is that why not many children want to make friends with me at school?

Yes, I think so. But it’s not your fault. You’ll just have to keep trying to be as “ordinary” as possible.

How can I do that? And why should I?

I don’t know. I’m sure it’s not going to be at all easy ...

* * *

31 July

We’ve had lots of fun in the paddling pool again this month.

I’m very jealous, Peter!

Oh yes, of course. Sorry!

Only playing! Don’t take me too seriously!

Why Do Fools Fall In Love?

Does that mean only fools fall in love?

* * *

26 August

Yesterday Mummy said she wants me to stay at school at lunch time, starting next term, and eat in the canteen with all the other children. Just like Robert does.

I said I didn’t want to. She said I would have to — she wants to go back out to work again, to earn some money to help Daddy with all the household costs.

I said I still didn’t want to. I said I wanted to have lunch with her, as we always have. And then I cried a lot.

Try not to be selfish, Peter.

Whatever Will Be Will Be. And before she sings that title, she sings ‘Caser R.’ Is that like Casey Jones?

No. I think they’re words in one of the foreign languages.

Oh. What are they?

They’re like English, but different. They’re what they speak in Europe.

Oh! Doesn’t everybody speak English?

No.

Then how can they understand each other?

I don’t think everybody can.

Oh dear.

What’s a Clean Air Act, Jane?

It’s a way to stop all the horrible fogs and smogs that we’ve had in recent years. It’s a very important change.

Good. Is that something else that God did?

I don’t think so.

* * *

9 September

It was Robert’s eighth birthday today. He didn’t get a new bike, again. I think he’s jealous of me and my new racing car.

It’s funny ... our birthdays are on the same day of the week again this year!

I think that might be to do with the sun too.

But they weren’t on “Sun-days” last year, Jane. They were both on Fridays!

Yes, it is all rather confusing ...

Last year, when I started school, Robert came to see me in the very first morning break, didn’t he? He never did that again. And he didn’t do it this week, when we all went into our new classrooms. I hardly ever see him at school.

He’s a lot older than you, Peter. I expect his pals would make fun of him if he kept coming to see if you were all right ...

Oh, I don’t mind. I have a couple of quite good friends. Well, just one, really. I’m too shy to try and make any others, so I usually stay on my own in the breaks. I’m used to that anyway — I never used to spend much time with Robert even before I went to school. And I have you for company now!

I’m still coming home with Mummy for lunch each day. She didn’t want me to be unhappy.

* * *

28 October

Mummy’s told us that David and Andy are moving away to live at the seaside. So they won’t be coming round to play any more. They were my only real friends, Jane!

Don’t cry again, Peter. Something good might come of it ...

Mummy has only been able to get a very poorly paid, local morning job, rather than a full-time one. Daddy’s very annoyed, but she says it’s better than making me even more uncomfortable at school ...

Hound Dog. That’s Elvis Presley again, isn’t it? They do write songs about funny things!

And the Ying Tong Song. How strange!

That’s called a nonsense song.

There doesn’t seem to be much point in that.

Try to take it for what it is. It’s just meant to make you laugh!

Oh. All right then!

I don’t understand the Suez crisis. Does that mean the drains are blocked up again?

No, Peter. I think it’s a sort of war. People fighting each other.

Oh, like those two boys in the school playground last week. Why do they do it?

I don’t know — yet.

They also said on the telly that they’ve opened the world’s first nuclear power station in England, to make our electricity. You did say we live in England, didn’t you, Jane? That must be why everybody’s so proud of it!

Rock Around The Clock! Again! What does it mean?

* * *

30 November

I was away from school last week with a nasty cold and cough. Mummy hurried out to the shops and bought me a special present — a “paint with water” book. But I think I used too much water, because it soon ended up a real mess, with all the colours in the pictures running into each other!

She bought me another one the very next day, and exactly the same thing happened! I’m not very good at art.

The best thing about being ill is the wonderful flavour of the special Orange Juice that Mummy got free from the doctor’s surgery. And the worst thing is the awful taste of the Cod Liver Oil I have to take as well! At least she lets me have that before the Orange Juice!

What’s an Eisenhower, Jane?

He’s the President of America. The most important man there.

Oh. They say he’s been re-elected. Is that nasty or nice?

I don’t know. I don’t understand those things yet myself.

Don’t Be Cruel. Elvis again! And Nellie the Elephant. I love that one! It makes me laugh and cry!

Good!

* * *

Christmas Eve

Just Walking In The Rain.

I’m glad we’ve finished school for the year, Jane. It’s such a waste of time.

You really shouldn’t think like that. Try to make the most of it. You’re so lucky, really!

Why?

It’s the 24th again, Peter ...

Oh, yes ...

I’ve read all the Rupert Annuals this year, just as I said I would! What now?

You’ll find plenty of new books, I’m sure!

Green Door.

Chickens and alligators, hotels and shoes, dogs and elephants and doors, and love and marriage! You must be able to write a song about anything.

You can, Peter! You certainly can. And isn’t that wonderful?

Yes!

Now, switch the light off before Robert comes to bed, and then it will suddenly be Christmas again!

* * *

Christmas Night

We didn’t have any special presents. Mummy said my birthday racing car did cost a lot of money, and Daddy’s having to work extra hard because she only has that part-time job, and they’re trying to save up for a holiday for us all.

Robert was rather unhappy. He was still hoping for a new bike. But I don’t mind too much.

That’s a very mature attitude, Peter.

What does that mean?

Quite grown-up. Like me! And maybe you should think again about having school lunches.

Blue Moon. I love Elvis!

So do I!

True Love.

But I really love you, Jane.

And I really love you too.


To be continued ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

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