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Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

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Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 3: 1957

part 2 of 2

21 August

Island In The Sun.

I didn’t take the diary on our two-week holiday in Suffolk. Catching up now!

But first of all, Jane wants me to write down some thoughts of her own. Okay, I’m ready, sister ...

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed being away from London and out in the fresh air and the sea breeze. I loved the wide open spaces, and the big cloudy skies and the darkness of the sea. And watching the seagulls circling the fishing boats, and the children digging for worms on the mudflats. It’s a different world, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. Very different.

I’ve seen many sorts of places on my private little travels, but that one was very special ...

Okay, Peter. Thank you for indulging me. Your turn now!

Well, we stayed in a very small, cold, damp brick bungalow with a chemical toilet. It wasn’t exactly what I’d call a “lovely seaside cottage”. And it was quite a long way from the beach, and from David and Andy’s house.

But the weather was quite good. It only rained on six days.

I’d never seen the sea before — well, I don’t remember it at Clacton, anyway. It was flatter than I’d expected, and you could spot land across the water. Was that part of Europe?

Oh, no! Estingham’s actually at the very end of a long river. That’s known as an estuary. What you could see was the Essex bank on the other side. Europe is much farther away.

Okay. Well, the water is cold when you first go in, but you soon forget about it when you start splashing about. I wish Robert and I could swim!

You’ll soon learn, I expect.


And I really enjoyed catching crabs off the causeway in the fishing harbour, using a long piece of string tied to a bit of bacon rind. We did that several times!

But the worst day was when Robert borrowed Andy’s bike and then crashed it into a wall. He was going down the steep track from our bungalow back to their house for the first time. I think he was being really reckless!

Oh, Peter, he was only being a boy! He’s just not used to being able to go so fast on an unmade road with no traffic to worry about. And maybe the brakes weren’t working perfectly ...

Anyway, I went to help him, and he was trying hard not to cry in front of me, and he said he thought his arm was broken, and when I looked I saw a little white bone sticking out through his skin. That made me feel really sick! But I did also feel very sorry for him.

I know. And then you ran all the way to David and Andy’s house for help. Good boy!

David’s daddy took Robert in his car to the big hospital at Orlesbury. Our Daddy went with them. I had to stay behind with Mummy. She said they’d have to offer to buy Andy another bike, and that meant Robert still wouldn’t be able to have a new one for a very long time.

Bye Bye Love.

So, did you enjoy Estingham?

Yes and no, Jane. The bungalow was quite primitive, wasn’t it? And so small! Worse than that holiday camp chalet! But I did like the change of scenery, as you did, and the beach and the sea and the crabbing. I do wish we’d had better weather. And if only Robert hadn’t broken his arm! It all got rather boring after that. But yes, I think I did enjoy it.

Like to go again?

Oh yes!


* * *

9 September

Love Letters In The Sand.

It’s Robert’s ninth birthday. His arm is still in plaster. He still didn’t get a new bike, of course. But he got a brand new football kit for when he’s better. It’s in the Wolves colours. I don’t like Wolves. I like Spurs.

And we had a lovely birthday surprise! Mummy and Daddy took us both to the cinema this evening. I’ve never been before!

Wasn’t that kind of them, Peter?

Yes! And we saw a film called Oklahoma! It was wonderful. I specially loved hearing all the songs, and seeing all the beautiful girls’ dresses!

Where’s Oklahoma, Jane?

In America.

I definitely want to visit America!!

Last Train To San Fernando. I wonder where that is?

* * *

19 October


When we went down to the High Street shops the other day, we had to walk across the hospital entrance road. I told Mummy I thought it would be okay to get run over by an ambulance there, because it could pick us up and take us inside very quickly!

What a careless thing to say, Peter! I don’t think Mummy appreciated it at all!

I was being serious. And if that did happen, I could visit Catherine when nobody was looking ...


I hate school. Nobody wants to play with me.

Do you ever ask them to?


I’m reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales now. Scary!

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.

And isn’t it exciting about the Sputnik rocket!

* * *

5 November

We had a few fireworks in the garden for the Fifth of November. But it was just the same as usual. And we didn’t have any rockets. So actually it wasn’t as good as before. And that’s not what Macmillan said, is it?

And the Russians have launched another Sputnik rocket now! Fancy being the first dog in Space, Jane!

No thanks.


I want to build rockets when I grow up.

That’ll Be The Day. Very strange words. Why do they make some songs so hard to understand?

* * *

30 November

Catherine died on Thursday. I never saw her again.

I am so very sorry.

I’ve lost both of you now, Jane. That’s not what Macmillan promised either.

Be especially brave, Peter. I’m here to help you get through it.

Will Catherine come back to be with me too?

Maybe. But I don’t think so. Remember what I told you? I believe it’s really only twins and very special people who do.

She was very special!

I know. I know.

He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands. Who has, Jane?

God, I think.


Mary’s Boy Child. Was that Jesus?


Did he suck Mary’s bosoms?

Oh, yes.

He died too, didn’t he?


And Laika the Space Dog. They say she died too.


Never so good?

* * *

Christmas Eve

Janey, I’ve remembered it’s the anniversary of our accident. I’m sorry I forgot last year. It’s made me very sad again.

Please don’t be sorry or sad, Peter. I’m not!

All right. So, how old are you now?

Well, officially I’m just six and a half, like you, but I think I’m closer to thirteen “inside” ...


Wake Up Little Susie. Is Susie a little baby like Sally?

No, she’s a teenager.

What’s a teenager?

Just what I’m beginning to feel like ...


I can’t explain it to myself yet, Peter, let alone to you.

All right.

Ma, He’s Making Eyes At Me. What does that mean?

I don’t really know. But it makes me think of Elvis Presley.

That’s really funny!

I know!

I’ve been watching Twizzle on Angela’s telly for the past few weeks. It’s great! I wish we could get ITV! But Mummy says we still can’t afford a new one.

Gotta Have Something In The Bank, Frank.

Ha-ha-ha! That was really clever, Jane. I love jokes like that!

They said on the radio that a new jet plane called the 707 has flown for the first time. Why did they tell us that?

Well, they did actually explain why, but you’d probably stopped listening. They hope to build a lot of 707s in the years to come. And that’s an American plane, but we build jets here too. We invented the jet engine!

And if they do build lots of them, the price of the tickets will go down, and then more people will be able to afford to travel by air on holidays and business.

Oh! So do you think we’ll be able to do that?

No, Peter. Probably not for a very long while. And don’t say Mr Macmillan promised you could!

Now, I think I can hear Robert coming to bed. Put the light out straight away, and then Christmas will be here very soon.

* * *

Christmas Night

They broadcast the Queen’s Christmas Message on the telly this afternoon. They said it was the very first time that’s happened!

What did you think of it?

What do you mean?

Well, you like certain pop records, but not all of them. So, what did you think of the Queen’s message?

Oh! I don’t know. I just sat and watched it. I haven’t thought about it.

It’s always worth thinking about everything you see and hear.

Okay. I’ll try. In fact that can be my New Year’s Resolution. Thank you, Jane!

Reet Petite. They’re still managing to confuse me with these American song lyrics!

Me too. I don’t know what a “reet petite” is either. It doesn’t sound very English — or American! But if you move the letters around you get ‘Eet It, Peter’!

Ha-ha-ha! You’re really clever!

No special Christmas presents again. Not like the lovely ones Angela and Brian got from their parents. Just little things. Mummy and Daddy said they were sorry, but there still just isn’t enough money to spare.

Don’t be angry with them. I know they’d give you both a lot more if they only could. And I also know about something else that’s making them take great care with their money at the moment. Actually, it’s very exciting! But I mustn’t tell you any more ...

Oh, please do, Jane!

No, I won’t. Because it might never happen, and then you’d be really sad.

Then why did you have to say anything at all??

You’re right. I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry. But please don’t be angry with me either. Just keep your fingers crossed for something very special for us both next year, okay?

What, next Christmas? But that’s another twelve months away!

No, much sooner than that, I hope. Now, night-night, brother ...

Love you, Janey.

Love you twice as much, Peter!

Proceed to Chapter 4 ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

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