Prose Header

Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

Table of Contents
Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 6: 1960

part 2 of 2

31 July

Shakin’ All Over.

Tanusha’s leaving! Her family’s going to live in Paris, and she won’t be coming back to school next term! It’s just not fair!

I’m very sorry, Peter. But look on the bright side. Maybe it will encourage you to make some more friends of your own age.

But there aren’t any children of my age in my present class! You know that, you stupid girl!

What A Mouth.

Why won’t Mummy let me ride my bike along the unmade road that runs across to the other side of the village? It would be a really useful short cut ...

You know why. It has a lot of very poor housing, and you’ve seen the gangs of rough kids who roam around there in the evenings. She’s concerned for your safety.

But I’ve got my Rights.

Oh, Peter! Please think about the really important things a bit more than you do.

Tales Of The Riverbank is a lovely programme. But I wish we had a proper river here, where I could go fishing. Not just the big wide boring old estuary.

Well it is actually a very nice little river further upstream, beyond Sturdon. I’ve been to see it recently — on my own.

That’s not fair!

It makes up for my not being able to do a lot of other things, brother. And maybe you will be able to fish there, one of these days.

I hope so. And I suppose the estuary’s not too bad really. I do enjoy collecting shellfish and tiny crabs and lugworms when the tide’s out.

When Will I Be Loved?

* * *

30 August

Grandma’s staying with us again, while Rose and Bill and Steven and Nancy are on holiday in Spain — again. I still really wish we could go to Spain!

Peter, you know Daddy can’t afford to take you on holiday, especially abroad. And it’s only fair that Mummy should look after Grandma once in a while and give her sister a break. Poor Auntie Rose does it every day for the rest of the year!

I know. It is very good of her. And I do like being with Grandma. She’s taught me to play Cribbage and Dominos. I can almost beat her at both of them now!

Please don’t try too hard to do that.

And she often eats “Rennies” — they look like sweets, but she won’t let me have one, and she won’t say why.

They’re only tablets for indigestion, Peter. Older people often get that after meals, but they don’t like to talk about it. It’s not serious, so don’t worry.


Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. What’s a bikini?

A new sort of swimming costume for girls. Like a bra and pants.

What’s a bra?

Oh, Peter, this is getting embarrassing. Why don’t you just keep an eye out for a picture of a girl in a bikini in Daddy’s newspaper, and then you can work it out for yourself ...


What’s an “embargo”?

You mean the one against Cuba?


It means America is refusing to trade with them, because Castro has taken over a lot of American property there.

Oh dear.

Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport.

Sputnik 5 went up this month, and all the animals on board returned safely. Hooray!


Someone broke into a house in our road ten days ago. The police came round doing door-to-door enquiries, and Robert told them he’d seen a strange green van parked here that day. He even remembered part of its number. Mummy was very concerned that he’d piped up, but the policeman assured her there would be “no comebacks”. And then he did come back yesterday to tell her they’d identified the van in Orlesbury, but there was no further evidence against the owner. Then she and Robert were both very proud.

Hmmm ...

I’ve made good friends with Nigel at Cubs. And I’ve been to play at his house several times this summer. He has a little toy rifle that fires small stones. It’s great fun!

You must be very careful with that rifle, and never aim it at other people or animals or birds. You know Mummy and Daddy would never let you have any sort of gun.

That’s exactly why it’s such fun, Jane!

* * *

9 September

It’s Robert’s birthday again! Daddy bought him a big toolkit, for metalwork and woodwork — a real one, not a children’s one! He’s ever so pleased!

And he started his new school in Orlesbury on Tuesday. Almost everybody from his old class has gone there too, so he’s still got plenty of friends, and he’s already made lots more.

I’ve gone up into the fourth year, of course, along with all the big girls and boys as usual. Our class teacher is Mr Baggerley, but they call him Bags. I’ve never had a man for a teacher before! He seems quite kindly.

Only The Lonely.

I’m reading Alice In Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking-Glass. Really interesting!

Tell Laura I Love Her.

And I’m getting the Tiger comic now. Roy Race is the world’s greatest footballer! Melchester Rovers is the world’s greatest team!!

Sea Hunt on the telly is sometimes really scary! It’s much more exciting than swimming in the estuary!

I’ve started having piano lessons. I think I’m enjoying them, but my teacher’s a really old lady, so it’s not very exciting.

Peter, that’s not a nice way to talk about people.

Oh, hello, Jane. But why? That’s exactly what she is.

Anyhow, I’ve already worked out how to play Three Blind Mice. But Daddy says I mustn’t go around telling people I can play the piano now ...

Quite right too.

But I can!

* * *

30 October

Chain Gang again!

Mr Bags has found out that everyone calls me Wally. So now he does too, all the time. It’s just not fair!

And he’s made me Bell Monitor. I have to go out into the playground before each break and run all round the school ringing the bell.

And that’s caused another problem, hasn’t it?

Yes. One day last week, three of the boys in my original class were already out there doing something else, and they pushed me into a corner and punched me several times.

I’m ever so sorry again, Peter. There was nothing you could do at the time. But you should have told your teacher about it.

I can’t. He’s the uncle of one of the boys!

Oh dear.

It’s Now Or Never.

I still enjoy football in the playground each break. But I’m almost always the last to be chosen for sides, and I always end up in the weak team, so I don’t get the ball very often and I’m not improving much.

But I’ve started playing football at the field near our house, with Mark and Martin. They’re twins too! They were in my first class here, and they go to Cubs, and we’re quite good friends now.

And I’m getting on very well at Cubs. I have five proficiency badges already. Each time I pass a new test, Mummy goes all the way to Orlesbury and buys the right one for me, and sews it onto my uniform in time for the next meeting.

Walk, Don’t Run.

I love Bootsie and Snudge on the telly. They both used to be in The Army Game, and now they’re behaving just the same towards each other in their new jobs in that posh gentlemen’s club!

That’s very observant of you. Well done!

I still listen to Children’s Favourites on the radio on Saturday mornings, even though the songs are so childish!

We’ve got a student teacher with us this term. She’s very nice. She gave us a project to do, individually, in one English lesson each week. We each have to write a complete play by the end of this month. That’s tomorrow. And she’s going to select the best one, and then we’ll learn and rehearse it, and perform it in front of the whole school just before Christmas!

I finished mine two weeks ago. It’s very short and it’s awful. I’m no good at making up stories or plays.

Never mind!

But Paul Smith has written a really long one. He let me look at it last week. It’s about five times bigger than mine, and it’s about Cowboys and Indians in the Wild West, and it’s really exciting! I’m certain it will be chosen!

So, you might not have a special flair for writing, Peter, but maybe you already have a good nose for quality!


* * *

5 November

I fell out of a tree two weeks ago ...

That’s because you were being very reckless. Fancy climbing out on a very thin branch, just to try and break off the end of it for tonight’s bonfire! I told you not to do it, but you just ignored me, didn’t you? And I thought you were supposed to be intelligent!

That’s wasn’t very nice of you, Jane! Robert was very worried when he found me.

How do you think I felt, waiting helplessly for someone to come?

I only fell a little way. Well, down onto a thick branch, and that hurt my side. But I don’t remember landing on the ground. I must have knocked myself out for a few moments.

You were lying there for quite a long time before Robert arrived.

They took me to the hospital to see if I’d broken any bones or injured my head. I was aching all over for days!

Well, lucky old you that it wasn’t any worse! Poor Mummy has been really worried, you know!

Why? I’m fine now.

* * *

27 November

The Sky at Night is an amazing programme!

But Mummy still never lets me out of the house in the evenings. What’s Estingham like at night, Jane?

Oh, it’s much the same as during the day. But it often seems even more wide-open, and it’s usually windy, of course, and all you can hear is the flags on the boats flap-flap-flapping around like restless crows in the trees. When the full moon’s out, it feels quite eerie ... as if something evil might happen at any moment, somewhere in the distance across the dunes. But usually it’s cloudy and dark, and then you can get a real sense of isolation and emptiness. I go down to the beach or the harbour or the lighthouse most evenings now, once you’re fast asleep, and I’m getting that sense more and more all the time ...

I think I’m rather glad I have to stay in after all!

Shortnin’ Bread.

What are the Polaris Tests?

People making sure those horrible weapons will work if they need to use them.

I don’t like those people.

Save The Last Dance For Me.

* * *

Christmas Eve

Poetry In Motion.

We performed Paul’s play at school last week. I was an Indian. We attacked the wagon train twice, and the second time I was shot. I made sure I died a very dramatic death.

It was overacting, Peter.

You were there?

Oh yes. Play it more smoothly next time, Sam.


I don’t feel very excited about tomorrow.

Well, you’ve had a difficult year. And Christmas always loses a bit of its glitter as you get older.

That’s really sad.

Yes. But cheer up — I know what your present’s going to be, and I think you’ll be very pleased ...

Oh! Tell me!

No! Just get to sleep, now!

* * *

Christmas Night

I got a little record player for Christmas. It doesn’t play Mummy’s silly old 78s, just the proper modern 45s. The sound’s not as good as the radio, but I don’t care. I can listen to my own pop records all the time now — when I get some. But they did give me two new comic ones today — Goodness Gracious Me and I Can’t Do My Bally Bottom Button Up. I love that one ... it’s just how I felt after our huge Christmas Dinner! I’m going to request it on Children’s Favourites!

Happy Christmas, Peter.

Oh, Happy Christmas, Jane.

And I hope you’ll have a happier New Year.

Thank you.

To be continued ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

Table of Contents

Home Page