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Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

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Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 5: 1959

part 1 of 2

6 January 1959

First day back at school — and they’ve put me up into the next class!

That was quite a shock, wasn’t it!

Yes. My new teacher Mrs Price said it should help me learn much faster than in the old one. I hope she’s right.

So are you feeling happier now?

I think so. But the boys and girls in this class are another year older and bigger than me! And I haven’t made any new friends yet. I told Mummy I wanted to join the Cubs, to try and make some friends there. But she said there isn’t any room for me at the moment.

I love the new telly. We watched The Black And White Minstrel Show the other night. And I really like the ITV Commercials!

Daddy finishes work a bit earlier on Fridays. But instead of coming straight home, he always buys us two small bags of sweets at the little shop near his factory. I like Jelly Babies and Fudge best! And then he goes to a very big shop in the centre of Orlesbury, to buy extra food for the weekend. But he has to stand in one long queue for the meat, and then another long queue for the cheese and butter, and then another long one for everything else! He gets home much later than he does on every other evening!

Poor Daddy. Wouldn’t it be good if he could just pick everything he wanted off the shelves himself, and pay for it all at the end!

* * *

31 January

Baby Face.

Jane wants to say something again ...

Only how much I love it here in the winter. The coastlines sweeping off into the grey of the sea, and the white lighthouse on the point, and the sand-dunes and grass and gorse behind the empty beaches, and the ebb and flow of the tides, and the colourful yachts on the water at the weekends, and the fishermen mending their nets and painting their boats, and always that big, big sky — even bigger than in the summer!

Yes, it’s certainly all very dramatic. But I prefer the warm summer weather. You never get cold! You don’t have to wear short trousers all the time!

No, Peter. I don’t.

To Know Him Is To Love Him.

Where’s Cuba?

Near America.

Who’s Castro?

He’s the man who’s just become the new leader of Cuba. Try listening to the News a bit more carefully for yourself, Peter.

Why are they telling us about him?

Because he’s good friends with the USSR, and America is a bit worried.

What about?

Because the USSR might send some of those powerful weapons I told you about to Cuba, and then threaten to attack America.

I hope they don’t do that.

So does everybody.

You Always Hurt The One You Love.

Daddy’s made a beautiful big sign saying: “W. Kerr: General Repairs” and he’s put it up outside our garage, so that people can see it from the road and give him even more work to do. He still spends every evening there, and most of the weekends too.

At least Mummy is always with you in the house and garden.


I’ve started reading Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven books. There are dozens of them, I think! And I did enjoy The Army Game on telly the other day! Do all soldiers behave like that?

No. It’s a very good comedy show. But real soldiers have a much harder life.

I thought so!

You haven’t said much about your new class at school.

I don’t really talk to any of the other children, and they don’t bother me — much. I am enjoying the lessons, though. Some of them are very difficult. But I’m trying hard, and Mrs Price said I’m coping very well.


But I’ve also lost contact with the few friends I’d made in my first class ...

* * *

28 February

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.

I had a fright during morning prayers the other day. I heard a noise in front of me and opened my eyes ... and I saw somebody’s eye bouncing around on the floor. It made me feel really sick! But I didn’t dare tell anyone about it, ’cos you’re not supposed to open your eyes during prayers.

I expect one of the boys was playing with a glass marble, Peter, and he just dropped it.

Oh! Yes, perhaps that’s what it was! Oh, that makes me feel a lot better!

Chantilly Lace. That sounds pretty.

Sunday School is not very interesting. I don’t really believe many of the Bible stories, Jane. Is that very bad of me?

Some people would say it is. But I’ve thought about it a lot already, and I’m not sure. You must do the same, as time goes by, and make up your own mind — about that and everything else you learn.

I haven’t made any new friends at Sunday School either. Most of the children there are even younger than me. And Robert’s been allowed to stop going already.

Be patient. Everything changes.

I got a Zorro mask in one of my comics last week. I put it on and rode my bike into the cul-de-sac opposite our house. But then an old lady standing in one of the gardens called out and told me to go away. Did she think I really was Zorro?

No, Peter. She was just being British and defending her castle from strangers.

Buddy Holly has died in a plane crash. Just like those poor footballers. It isn’t fair.

It Doesn’t Matter Any More.

Some of the American telly programmes are a bit silly! In I Love Lucy they do an awful lot of screaming and shouting at each other. But they don’t really seem very angry at all!

The Brains Trust is the opposite. Boring old people talking about boring old things.

That’s not a programme for children, Peter. So don’t condemn it, just like that. You’re still only seven years old.

I’m nearly eight, Jane!

* * *

29 March

Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour? I’m not allowed to have chewing gum.

There was another CND rally this month. Does that mean they’re still making those nasty weapons?


Oh dear.

Side Saddle.

I have made one friend in my new class. Her name’s Tanusha. Her mother’s from a place called Malaya, but her father’s English and he’s working here at the moment. She’s nearly two years older than me, but she noticed I didn’t have any friends and she’s being really nice to me. She’s very talkative! And she speaks English in the way I do. It’s a bit like having a big sister, Jane! As well as having you, of course!

I’m really pleased, Peter. Yes, I’ve been watching, and she has been very kind to you. She’s also the most intelligent child in the class. I think that’s another reason she likes talking to you — because she appreciates that you’re very bright as well.

We had a lot of end-of-term tests last week. I hope I’ve done well in them.

You’ll be fine. Don’t worry.

Little Drummer Boy.

I love watching Zoo Time. That’s one of the reasons I wanted us to get ITV! And Captain Pugwash is great!

Mummy’s going to let me have a comic delivered with the morning paper each week. I’m going to start with the Beano.

And how are you getting on, Jane?

Eh? Oh sorry, that was a little joke, wasn’t it?

Not really, Peter.

Okay. Night-night, then.

* * *

26 April

Six-Five Special is fabulous! It’s the best pop music show on the telly!

I discovered some really interesting things at David’s house during the Easter holidays. There was a “stapler” for clipping pieces of paper together. And a “punch” for making two little holes in the papers, so that you can put them all together in something called a “file”. I played with them for a long time! David was very surprised at that!

David’s father is a travelling salesman, like Uncle Bill, so he uses tools like that all the time to manage his business documents. Daddy doesn’t need those sorts of things. He uses other tools in his work.

Aha! That’s just like something they said at Sunday School last week! They asked us all to describe what our fathers did for a living, and at the end of the class they said that everybody’s job was important, no matter how ordinary it might seem to be.

And that’s quite right, isn’t it?

Yes, I suppose it is. But some jobs do sound a lot more exciting than others! Like being a pop singer, or a racing car driver, or ...

Peter, only very few people are lucky enough to be able to do their hobby as a job. You need to understand and accept that, very soon, or you’re going to be very disappointed one day.

I don’t see why. I’m going to do exactly what I want when I go to work!

C’mon Everybody.

Auntie Harriet and Victoria came to visit us for two days last week. Victoria’s a lot older than I am, and she stayed up late after I’d gone to bed. And she heard Mummy say to Auntie Harriet that I was going to have an inoculation the next day. And then Victoria told me about it in the morning, and it made me very scared. Why couldn’t Mummy have told me herself? It’s not fair!

Charlie Brown.

We got the results of our end-of-term tests as soon as we went back to school. Tanusha came top of the class. I was really pleased for her. And I came second. Nobody seemed at all pleased about that. And ever since then they’ve been rather unkind to me. I don’t know what to do about it. Even Mrs Price doesn’t seem to notice or care!

It’s not my fault, is it, Jane?

No. They simply don’t understand you. Be brave and just soldier on.

I can’t see how that’s going to help. Even if I knew how to!

William Tell. That’s another good telly programme. But if I’d been William Tell’s son, I’d have been happy if he’d missed the apple and hit me instead.

Peter! Don’t talk like that!

Well, I don’t have any friends, do I? Tanusha’s very kind, but she’s far too old and big to play with me. And even though I’m only one class away from Robert at school now, he never plays with me there, or at home. He spends most of his time helping Daddy in the garage, or out with his own friends.

Look, Peter, this is ...


* * *

30 May

Come Softly To Me.

Our next-door neighbour got a phone call for us last week, and Daddy went round to take it. It was Uncle Charlie. He told him Nanny had died. I was so sad, and so was Daddy.

Of course. Poor Daddy, and Grandpa, and all their family.

Everybody dies.

Eventually, Peter. And Nanny was quite old.

Yes. Not like you. Or Catherine.

So, is that it? Nobody’s said any more about it ...

Mummy and Daddy are going to the funeral in Wood Green on Tuesday. David’s mummy is coming over here to make your lunch and take care of you after school.

Why didn’t they tell me that?

They don’t like talking about things like this. And they didn’t want you to make a fuss.


I got a little diver toy with my comic last week. It’s amazing! When you put it in a bottle full of water and screw the rubber stopper down, it sinks to the bottom, and when you unscrew it, the diver rises to the top again!!

How does it work, Jane?

I don’t really know. But I think it’s reacting to different pressures. Going up and down, and up and down, at the slightest small change ...

* * *

24 June

My eighth birthday at last! I got my own new football kit, in Spurs’ colours, and a brand new pair of boots with proper studs! I’m really happy!

Happy Birthday, Peter.

Oh, hello Jane.

Is that all?

Ah, sorry — Happy Birthday. So how “old” are you today?

I expect you can work it out. You’re very good at sums.

About sixteen?


A Teenager In Love.

Did you enjoy your party?

Yes, thanks. Did you see the news about the new Hovercraft they’ve invented?


I love The Lone Ranger on the telly.

Don’t become one, Peter. Think about what your new football kit is for.


Proceed to part 2 ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

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