by Michael E. Lloyd
Table of Contents|
Book II: Never So Good
Chapter 3: 1957
part 1 of 2
20 January 1957
Late Happy New Year, Jane! Love Me Tender.
Thank you, Peter. Yes, another new Elvis song on the radio!
And Singing The Blues. That rhymes with Blue Suede Shoes! Ooh, maybe I can write a song too!
Jane, is a Macmillan the same as an Eisenhower?
Well, yes and no. Mr Macmillan’s our new Prime Minister. It is a bit like America, but they haven’t got a Queen, so their leader sort of does both jobs.
Oh, that must be very hard work. Would they like a King and Queen?
I don’t think so. They had a King once, but they had a war with him and that’s when they got a President instead.
Another war! Oh dear. And what’s an IRA?
I don’t know.
I’ll ask Mummy.
No, don’t do that, Peter.
You do know, don’t you!
* * *
Blueberry Hill. Is that like Northgate Hill, Jane?
No. I expect it’s a lot more exciting and romantic.
Like exciting, but softer, I think.
Somewhere you find a thrill, then?
Aren’t songwriters clever! I’m going to leave school as soon as I can, and become a songwriter!
Peter, that’s just very silly.
I had to go to the dentist two weeks ago. I was very scared, and I cried all the way there. But Mummy promised me she’d buy me a present at the toy shop on the way back, if I was very brave. So then I tried to be. And it didn’t hurt at all. It was only a check-up! And I still got my present. I chose a beautiful red matchbox car!
I love Muffin The Mule on the telly! Funny! And I’m reading Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales now. I especially like The Ugly Duckling!
* * *
Long Tall Sally.
The radio said Mr Macmillan and President Eisenhower had a special relations meeting in a place called Bermuda this month. Is that like a family birthday party, Jane?
Probably not. I think they might be trying to prevent a war.
Another one! Why should anyone want to start one?
I don’t know.
I bet you do, really! Anyway — what’s this new thing called the Treaty of Rome?
Well, treaties are normally what you do to stop a war. But I think this one is mainly about people in Europe wanting to do more business with each other. You know, buying and selling things. It’s called Trade.
That sounds much better than fighting.
Yes. Let’s hope it succeeds ...
* * *
I’m really happy that Mummy’s sometimes letting me go to watch the telly at Angela and Brian’s house, after school. They’ve got the ITV channel. There are lots of funny new programmes on it!
Banana Boat Song. How can you make a boat out of a banana? The shape would be all right, but there would be no room for any people!
Tutti Frutti. But that’s not how you spell “fruity”! Most of these songs are still very confusing.
Something else that’s very confusing ... we visited Nanny and Grandpa the other day, and I went into Auntie Barbara’s room, and her new baby Sally was sucking her bosoms!
That’s how mummies give little babies their milk, Peter.
Oh! Did Mummy do that with us?
I don’t remember.
Nor do I. But she did.
Mummy let me watch Dixon of Dock Green last night. It’s about the police. It’s really exciting! I’m going to be a policeman!
* * *
When I Fall In Love.
Catherine hasn’t been at school for nearly three weeks. Miss Allen says she has a bad illness. She’s in hospital now.
I’m really sorry about that, Peter. I know how fond you are of her.
She’s my only real friend, Jane. And I’m still so disappointed with school. Nothing happens. It’s all too tranquil.
Mummy always meets me at the end of the day, and on Mondays we go to the Library. But yesterday we all came out a bit early, and she wasn’t there. So I went straight to the Library on my own.
That was very thoughtless of you.
Why? I knew exactly where it was. Anyway, Mummy didn’t turn up there, so after a while I went straight home. And she wasn’t there either. And I couldn’t get in, of course. So I waited in the garden for a bit, and then I went back up the road towards the school. That’s when I saw Mummy. She was so pleased to see me! But she was also rather angry.
Oh course she was! She was in a terrible state. She didn’t know what had happened to you!
But I was fine!
Well anyway, Daddy’s made me promise never to do that again.
I should think so too.
What’s an H-bomb test?
I don’t want to know.
* * *
Happy Birthday, Jane.
Happy Birthday, Peter. Have you enjoyed it?
Well, quite a bit. We had a lovely tea party in the garden with a few friends.
But there was no special big present for me like last year. Mummy’s not earning enough money in her new job, and Robert is growing so fast he always needs new clothes. So I just got a few of his old ones. But Mummy said they are still in very good condition. And Daddy gave me a big book about vintage sports cars.
I was actually very sad. I was hoping for some pop records. I’d even dropped a few hints!
But the new 45s won’t work on Mummy’s old gramophone.
Oh, that’s not fair!
You know, Jane, I believed for a long time that a little man and his wife lived under the turntable, and sang for us whenever we gave them a ride. But I never thought like that about the radio or the telly! And I still can’t really believe the songs come straight off the records and through that tiny needle ...
I believe it. I don’t understand it, but I observe it, so I have to believe it.
Oooh, that was really clever!
No, it wasn’t. It was just common sense. I’m being rational.
Where did you learn such big words?
I read a lot of grown-up things these days, Peter — whenever I can look over people’s shoulders! And I watch and listen, all the time.
But even though you don’t have any new records, you’re a bit happier now they’ve told you the exciting news, aren’t you?
Yes! We’re all going to stay in a seaside cottage this summer, near David and Andy’s new home in Estingham. Where is that, Jane?
It’s in a county called Suffolk, on the east coast. I heard Daddy say it will take about four hours to get there by coach and buses. It’s not too far away from Clacton.
I hope the swimming pool’s a bit warmer!
I wouldn’t expect to find a pool at the cottage! You’ll probably be paddling in the North Sea, this time. But that might be just as cold.
Are you looking forward to it?
Oh yes. It will make such a change ...
Around The World.
I tried on some of Robert’s old clothes before I got into bed.
A White Sports Coat.
And you’re not feeling so bad about them now, are you?
No. I’m quite proud of how smart I looked!
Puttin’ On The Style.
* * *
We were playing in the paddling pool last week, and Robert threw the tin pail at me and it cut my head.
He wasn’t throwing it at you, Peter. He was just being careless. I was watching, and I know he didn’t mean it to hit you. And he was very sorry about it afterwards ...
Yes. But I didn’t like the way the water in the pool turned pink.
I know. That even made me feel ill. But you were very brave.
It did sting a lot.
The doctor said it will be fine. He did something to prevent it getting infected, and you didn’t need any stitches, so it’s not serious.
But I was All Shook Up! And you’re my Teddy Bear!
I saw Mr Macmillan on the telly the other day. He said ‘most of our people have never had it so good.’ What does that mean, Jane?
It means it’s peaceful and safe in England these days, and people are slowly getting a little more prosperous, and healthier, and stuff like that. After all the problems of the war and everything ...
Yes, there was a big war in Europe a few years ago. It made everybody poor for a long while, and there were lots of things they couldn’t have, especially nice food and clothes and luxuries. But things are slowly improving. And Mummy and Daddy don’t have to pay for doctors and nurses and medicine when you need them. People have to do that in many other countries.
That’s what the Prime Minister meant.
Mummy and Daddy don’t seem to be any richer.
But they’re not in poverty like a lot of people, and they’re working hard to make life as good as they can for you and Robert. And you’re all in fine health. Not like poor Catherine.
That’s true. She’s very sick now. I wanted to visit her in hospital, but they said I shouldn’t.
Don’t cry, Peter. Pray for her instead.
What good will that do?
Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd