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Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

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Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 5: 1959

part 2 of 2

31 July

Livin’ Doll.

We had lots more tests at the start of the month, and I did very well. I even beat Tanusha in most subjects. And on the last day of term they had a Prize Day for the whole school, and the headmaster announced I was “First in Class” and I got a book token.

Well done, brother. You worked really hard to learn all the new things they taught you this year.

But I don’t know what the other children are going to say about me next term.

Now don’t let that worry you all through the summer holidays!

All right.

I didn’t do very well at Sports Day, though.

Never mind. You can’t be good at everything. And the other boys in your class are all so much stronger than you. It’s just bad luck, Peter. You need to play in games where you can be as good as them. Football will be ideal ... you can learn to dribble the ball quickly around all the clumsy big boys and score lots of goals!

Hooray! Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I want to be a footballer when I grow up! I know — I’ll get Mummy to play with me in the garden all through the holidays. She’s big and clumsy!


It was me joking this time! Mummy’s lovely, and I’m sure she’ll say yes. She always does.

Why don’t you get Robert to play with you?

I told you why! He’s always out with his friends or helping Daddy in the garage.

I love the new Mister Softee van that stops outside our house every day in the summer. I’ve never tasted ice cream like that — or such lovely big orange lollies!!

I wish I could taste any old ice cream.

Oh, I’m sorry Jane. I didn’t think.

Do you know what a “kitchen debate” is?

It’s just a silly way of describing that meeting between Nixon and Khrushchev the other day.

Who’s Nixon?

He’s the American Vice-President.

What did they debate?

I believe they just exchanged some very strong views, Peter. There are a lot of things they don’t agree on.

What’s a Cold War?

Nixon and Khrushchev having a kitchen debate, rather than using real weapons.

What’s a Cod War?

Iceland and Britain having a debate about what’s on the menu. But Iceland’s using real weapons.

Here Comes Summer.

* * *

30 August

We’ve played on the beach a lot more this year.

Well, we’ve been here all summer holiday for the first time! Are you still enjoying it? I certainly am!

Oh yes!

And it was lovely to have Grandma staying with us for two weeks, and to see Steven and Nancy and their parents for a couple of days at the start, before they went off for their holiday in Spain.

But I wish I could have gone to Spain with them.

I’m sure you’ll go there one day.

So am I!

When they came back to collect Grandma, we all went down to the “pub” at the end of our road. The grown-ups went inside and had some special drinks, but the four of us had to just stand outside the front door and make one glass of lemonade and a small packet of salted crisps each last for a whole hour!

That’s the first time I’ve even seen Mummy and Daddy go to a pub. At least Uncle Bill paid for all the drinks.


I enjoyed the Church Fete again this year. I went on a pony ride around the field! I want a pony!

That’s usually what young girls want, Peter!

So what?

Lipstick On Your Collar.

Did you see the amazing picture of Earth sent back by Explorer 6?

Yes. It was wonderful!

David’s daddy keeps two broken-down old cars in their back garden. We’ve been pretending to drive them! And the Mini has just gone on sale in England! Why can’t we have a car like everybody else?

Peter, not everybody else has one — by any means! And Daddy can’t afford one. And he can’t drive, anyway. And ...

All right, all right!

Yesterday Mummy took me into Orlesbury on the bus to exchange my book token. I chose a story called He Went With Marco Polo. It’s about a young boy called Tonio who lived in Venice a long time ago, and travelled all the way to China and back, by land, while he was still quite young. It’s about Trade. We said that was a very good thing, didn’t we, Jane?

Yes, we did!

I want to go to Venice. And to China. I want to be a tradesman when I grow up!

That’s not quite the right word, Peter. That’s the sort of thing Daddy does in the garage. You mean you want to be a businessman.


You are going to do a lot of different jobs, aren’t you!

Why not?

Dream Lover.

And when we’d finished shopping we went to the cinema. It’s only the second time I’ve ever been! We saw a long film called South Pacific. It was beautiful, and it had lots of lovely songs, but it was also very sad, I think ...

Yes, it was.

Are they still having a war there?


Then I want to go there too!

Battle Of New Orleans.

Mummy told me I could join the Cubs next term. There’s a spare place for me now, and she says we can afford to buy a second-hand uniform. But I’ve decided I don’t want to go. I’d rather stay at home with her.

That’s a real pity, Peter. I think Cubs would be very good for you. And I know Mummy was finally hoping to get out of the house for a couple of hours, just one evening each week, to see her friends and have a chat and maybe play a game of cards with them.

Well, I don’t want to go after all, so I’m afraid she won’t be able to.

I do think that’s rather unfair of you. And by the way ... she still can’t go for a full-time job, and she can’t find any part-time work in the village. Are you going to continue to insist on coming home for lunch with her every day?


* * *

9 September

It’s Robert’s birthday. He’s eleven. He wanted an air-gun for his present, but Mummy and Daddy said absolutely not.


They gave him a huge Meccano set instead. He’s very happy with that. He’s good at assembling things. I’m not. I never managed to build that space rocket!

Never mind. You and Robert both have different talents. You’re more like Mummy, and he’s more like Daddy.

Yes, you’re right ...

We went back to school again yesterday and Robert’s in the top class now. He’ll have to go to senior school in Orlesbury next September.

The best thing about this week is Mummy’s new pet! Her name’s Trudy and she’s a Yorkshire Terrier. Mummy says she’s a very special sort of dog ...

She’s a pedigree, brother. That means people know exactly who her own mummy and daddy were, and she has a certificate to prove it.

But doesn’t every dog have that?

No, Peter. Not even every little boy or girl.

Oh, how awful! Well, Mummy says she hopes Trudy can have puppies of her own soon. I’m going to play with her in the garden every day!

Only Sixteen. That’s your song, Jane! Just right for this year!

Hmmm. You mean I’m too young to fall in love?

No, I didn’t mean ...

Or perhaps it’s too late.

I’ve said the wrong thing again, haven’t I?

No, Peter. It’s just me being silly — and sixteen. Thank you for the nice thought!

Mona Lisa.

I love playing on the ropes in the trees around David’s house!

I know. I’ve been watching you. You must be very careful. You nearly fell off once, when you’d swung up very high!

Oh, don’t be such a sissy!

The Public Information Broadcasts on the telly are a bit strange. Especially the one where the man is driving his car in the dark, and another car coming towards him has its headlights on full beam. And when it’s finally gone past, the man’s daughter asks ‘Didn’t that dazzle you, Daddy?’ and he says ‘No — I didn’t look.’

Does that seem a bit strange to you too, Jane?

Yes, it does.

* * *

31 October

I still don’t have any real friends at school. But I am learning lots of interesting new things this year.

Uncle Charlie and Auntie Barbara and Sally came to visit us for a few days at half-term. I haven’t seen them since Nanny died. One afternoon I climbed up a ladder that Daddy had left leaning against the roof of the house. Uncle Charlie saw me, and he got really angry, and he told me to come straight back down before I fell off and hurt myself. So I did.

I really don’t think he should have told me what to do, though!

But where was Daddy at the time, Peter?

I don’t know. Busy working as usual, I expect.

Travellin’ Light.

Luna 2 crash-landed on the moon. I bet the Russians were very sad.

No, they had planned for that to happen. It was all part of their experiments.


High Hopes.

Mr Macmillan has been re-elected. What does that really mean, Jane?

It means most people in this country like the way it is being governed by the Conservative Party, and they want him to carry on doing it for five more years.

So they agree with him that they’ve never had it so good?

Yes. Or perhaps some of them don’t really know, but they haven’t thought about whether it could be any better.


Oh, in lots of ways. There are other political parties who would like to run the country differently — to try and give more help to the poorer people, for example.

Does that include us?

Well, not really, but partly ...

Mack The Knife.

Mummy wanted to go out to see her friends the other evening. I didn’t know about it until she opened the front door. I don’t think she was planning to tell me!

But she was only going next door to the Church Hall for a couple of hours! And Daddy and Robert would still have been here with you!

I don’t care. I didn’t want her to go.

And so you made an awful fuss. That wasn’t at all fair.

I don’t care. She was making me unhappy.

I’m sure she was even unhappier. I don’t think she’s ever been out in the evening since we were born. I watched her taking her coat off again. She was crying too ...

I’m reading Kipling’s Just So Stories now.

Frankly, Peter, I think you should read them very slowly and carefully.


* * *

29 November

What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?

Bonfire Night was nice again. But I didn’t think of Catherine this year. Not till afterwards.

What Do You Want? That’s funny, isn’t it? Two songs with the same words in the title, both very near the top of the chart in the same week!

Robin Hood on the telly is really exciting! That’s why I wanted ITV! And The Phil Silvers Show is good. It’s like an American version of The Army Game!

They’ve opened the new M1 motorway. Or part of it, anyway. But we can’t use it, so I don’t care!

Hello, Peter.

Oh, hello.

* * *

Christmas Eve

Oh! Carol.

I had to read a lesson at the school Carol Service in the Church last week. I spent a long time learning it so that I could speak it properly and not make any mistakes. And I was very nervous beforehand. When it was my turn, I took a very deep breath and went straight up to the pulpit and launched into it. But then I saw Mummy and Miss Jones both looking ever so concerned!

Anyway, I finished it, and then they were all smiling, and I came back down to my place in the pews. But afterwards, Mummy said they’d all been really worried because I hadn’t taken my Bible with me up to the pulpit.

That’s what everyone else does when they do a reading.

Nobody told me that! I thought I had to learn it off by heart. I thought everybody would make fun of me if I took the Bible up with me and cheated!

Oh, Peter!


Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat. And Little White Bull.

They still make pop songs about the strangest things, don’t they?

I love Rawhide on the telly!

Mummy bought some wonderful little oranges called “Tangerines” for us to eat at Christmas. They’re really easy to peel, and they have a lovely sweet taste!

What am I going to get for Christmas tomorrow, Jane?

Not telling!

Spoilsport! Night-night!

* * *

Christmas Night

Jingle Bell Rock.

I got a real leather football for Christmas! It’s very heavy! Mummy and I played with it on the wet grass in the garden this afternoon, and it got even heavier and harder to kick. But I’m sure that’s what’s supposed to happen ...

And I got a pinball game. It’s made of shiny modern plastic, not like that silly, old-fashioned wooden one we used to play with at Auntie Anne’s!

Little Donkey.

It was nice to watch the Queen’s Christmas Message again.

Any opinion about it this year, Peter?


Proceed to Chapter 6 ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

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