Prose Header

Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

Table of Contents
Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 4: 1958

part 1 of 2

26 January 1958

Peggy Sue.

They said we’d be learning lots of new things this term at school. But there’s nothing new for me. Except football. We’re playing football with the teachers in the field once a week, and in the playground in the morning break. I play with the middle year boys in the mornings. They’re more my age and size.

Yes, you’re almost the youngest in your class, Peter. That’s why it’s always been a bit hard for you, being small and quite bright.

Jailhouse Rock.

Elvis again!

Is that like the stick of Torquay Rock that Grandma brought back for us from her holiday?

I’m still enjoying Children’s Favourites on the radio on Saturday mornings. But most of the songs are so childish.

But that’s just what you’d expect, isn’t it?

And I’m starting on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories. There are about twenty of them in the library. They should last me till my birthday!

Great Balls Of Fire.

* * *

28 February

They launched the Explorer satellite into orbit a few weeks ago. How exciting! But this one didn’t have a dog on board. What’s it for, Jane?

Lots of things. Mainly scientific research, but also I think the Americans wanted to do it because the Russians have already launched two Sputniks.

You make it sound as if they’re playing football and the score’s now 2-1!

Yes, that’s quite a good way of looking at it, Peter.

Mummy listened to Workers’ Playtime on the radio most lunch times during my half-term holiday. Does Daddy work in a factory?

Yes. He works for a company that makes machines that people use to make other machines. He helps to put everything together when it’s ready, and tests it to make sure it all works properly.

Does he help to make space rockets and satellites?


And he also mends things for people in the garden shed in the evenings and at weekends, to earn some extra money.

So that’s why he’s hardly ever with us in the house!


There’s been a terrible aeroplane crash in a place called Munich. Lots of Manchester United footballers were killed. Isn’t that awful?

Yes, it is. I know just how everybody feels. And every soul.

I don’t think I want to go on an aeroplane after all.

That’s not a very sensible way of thinking, Peter. If everybody thought like that, nobody would ever do anything. But you certainly do need to make careful decisions about many of the things you might want to do.

Why did they call those players “Busby’s Babes” when they were all grown-up men?

Because they were all actually quite young for top-class footballers. So people called them “babes” to show they appreciated that. People do that sort of thing with language all the time. I know it’s hard to grasp, but the more you open your mind to it, the easier it will become.

Oh Boy!

* * *

30 March

A man called Khrushchev has been made the Premier of Russia. Is that like the President of America?

Yes and no again, Peter. The Russians don’t have a King or Queen either: they lost theirs too. So he has got a similar job. But they have a different way of life there, I think. And everyone calls it Russia, but it’s actually a big group of states called the USSR. Just as America is a big group of smaller states called the USA.

Why don’t they teach us useful knowledge like that at school, Jane?

Because it’s an Infant School. Most of the children there aren’t ready to learn about that sort of thing yet.


At The Hop. We sometimes play hopscotch in the playground. Is that what this song’s about?

No. It’s an American word for a teenagers’ dance.

I thought they spoke English in America!

They do. With extra words.

Magic Moments and Catch a Falling Star. Stars are very hot, aren’t they, Jane? Wouldn’t you burn your hands if you caught one?

Yes, you would. But they’re also very big, so you couldn’t really catch one. It’s just people playing games with language again. They do that all the time in songs and poems. It’s great fun. I do it myself, in my head!

But what does that song mean?

Well, if you listen to it very carefully, several times, I think you’ll be able to work it out for yourself.

All right.

Bony Moronie. Poor man. They ought to give him more to eat.

Oh Peter, you do sometimes make me laugh!

* * *

26 April

I heard Music While You Work on the radio a few times in the Easter holidays. I wonder if Daddy listens to these programmes at his work? I suppose it depends on whether he’s got an electricity socket nearby.

I think they can broadcast the music to the whole factory, so that everybody can enjoy it together.

Oh! I never thought of that.


No. Listening to it together.

Woman’s Hour. Mummy listens to that on the Radio each afternoon. So I had to, as well, during the holidays. That’s like Daddy having to listen to the broadcasts at work, isn’t it!


Hmmm. Well, it’s not very exciting. I wish I didn’t have to.

You don’t have to, Peter. Just go somewhere else and read, if you want to. Use your free will. But actually, if you stayed and listened carefully, you might learn a lot more about the world. More than they’re teaching you at school. And that’s what you want, isn’t it?

Yes it is, of course ...

And you could also sometimes discuss what you’ve heard with Mummy.

That’s all very good advice. Thank you Jane!

What’s the CND?

It’s a small group of people who want countries like England and America and Russia to stop making very dangerous war weapons.

I think that’s a very good idea.

So do I. But I also think a few people like that aren’t going to be able to do very much about it ...

Good Golly Miss Molly. Is Molly a golliwog?

No. It’s just a silly saying, like ‘Oh gosh!’

Okay. So why didn’t they just say ‘Oh gosh!’?

Because it wouldn’t fit the rhythm of the song, would it?

Oh no, of course not! Aha!

I’ve been learning to ride Robert’s bike in the garden during the holidays. I fell off eight times before I finally managed to stay balanced and go forward for about ten seconds. I fell off a few more times, but then I got the hang of it! And now I can ride all the way up and down the garden path without stopping!

But Mummy won’t let me go out on the road yet.

Of course not, Peter. You need a lot more practice. And Robert’s bike is still a bit too big for you ...

* * *

31 May

Who’s Sorry Now?

Mummy and Daddy don’t have as many of those awful old 78 records as they used to!

That was very careless of you, Peter!

It wasn’t my fault!

Whose was it, then?

School is still so dull. We’re not even playing football on the field any more. We have to do silly baby running races instead.

It’s so nice to come home to Children’s Hour on the radio each evening. I like it because it has things for older children, not just those of my age, thank goodness!

Educating Archie is fun too. But the BBC telly is boring. I do wish we could get ITV!

Be patient, Peter. Everything comes to those who wait.

I’m still waiting for it to be “so good”! I want to do things, not just wait!

* * *

24 June

Happy Birthday, Jane!

Happy Birthday, Peter!

How “old” are you now?

About fourteen, I think ...


All I Have To Do Is Dream.

I didn’t get any big presents today. Again! But I don’t care, ’cos Mummy and Daddy told us we’re all moving to Estingham in the summer!

Isn’t it wonderful news!

Yes! Are you looking forward to it too?

Of course I am! You know how frustrated I’ve become with Northgate Hill, in my own way. And how I loved the open landscape of the east coast last year. But I didn’t want to say too much to you about that, in case we had to go on living here for a very long time.

Oh! Are you sure we will be moving?

Yes, definitely. I heard Daddy tell Mummy last week that all the necessary things have been done ready for them to sell this house and move to the one in Estingham in August. That’s why they’re willing to tell you and Robert about it at last!

I do hope it’s not like that tiny bungalow last year ...

No. It is a bungalow, but that only means it doesn’t have stairs. It’s actually a lot bigger than even this house, Peter, and there’s a separate car garage that Daddy’s going to use for the extra repair jobs he does for people, and you and Robert will each have your own bedroom, and there’s a huge garden to play in, too!

Hooray! Wait a minute — have you seen it already?

Oh yes. Mummy and Daddy looked at several houses during last year’s holiday, when you and Robert were over at David and Andy’s. So I saw them all too. And I went back there with Daddy two months ago after they’d chosen the one they wanted, and he finished all the business to do with buying it. He didn’t know I was with him all the time, of course!


And there’s something else I heard them say. It’s very important. Because the house prices are a lot lower in Suffolk, Daddy has been able to buy the big new one for less money than he’ll get when he sells this one! So they’ll have some spare cash in the bank at last, and they’re hoping to be able to buy you and Robert all sorts of nice things in the future. That’s why they’ve promised you’ll get a proper birthday present in a few months’ time.

Hooray again!! Maybe it will be “so good” after all!

But don’t tell them I said any of that!

I never tell them anything about you, Jane.

Okay. Now, did you notice Robert’s reaction to the news?

Oh! No, not really. We didn’t talk about it much. In fact he went off soon after they told us about it. I thought he was just sulking because it was my birthday and he didn’t even get a little present himself as usual.

You need to become more sensitive to other people, Peter. He’s unhappy because he’ll be losing all his friends. And he has some bad memories of the seaside because of his bike accident.

Oh yes, of course. All right, I’ll try to be especially nice to him now. But as far as I’m concerned, I don’t have any friends to lose. I have everything to gain!

I know. So do I!

Tulips From Amsterdam.

I’ve finished all the Famous Five stories now. I hope they have some other Enid Blyton books in Estingham.

I hope, for your sake, they have a library in Estingham!

* * *

30 July

Rave On.

There’s a whole lot of packing going on in our house!

Ha-ha-ha! Yes, I’m so excited! I wish I could help!

And I think you’ve been very kind to Robert this month. He seems to be looking forward to moving too, now.

Lady Is a Tramp.

I thought tramps were homeless men.

That’s not what it means, Peter. But don’t worry about it!

I keep thinking about the Famous Five books. I want a dog in Estingham! And some adventures!

Well, let’s hope all our dreams will soon come true ...

Proceed to part 2 ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

Table of Contents

Home Page