Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

Table of Contents
Synopses
Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 9: 1963

part 1 of 2


27 January 1963

Dance With The Guitar Man. Huh! I haven’t had much time to play my new guitar. Too much homework and time wasted on travelling!

What a winter! It really has been the Big Freeze.

One day soon after the term started, I stood at the top of the hill and watched the bus trying to drive up. It got about one third of the way, then it slowly turned to the right and slid all the way back down again, sideways! The driver tried four times and the same thing always happened. Then he gave up!

Nobody went to school in Orlesbury that day!

And since then I’ve got more and more unhappy with the long journeys. On two other days I walked back home just before the bus arrived, and told Mum I didn’t want to go.

You can’t do that sort of thing whenever you feel like it, Peter.

Yes I can! And I did!

He’s A Rebel.

And last Friday was awful. A really heavy fog suddenly came down just before three o’clock, and they sent us all home early. But when I got to the bus stop for Estingham, there were lots and lots of people milling around, and there hadn’t been a bus for a long time. I didn’t know what to do! And then a miracle happened — I bumped into Dad! They’d sent him home from work too. He said the best thing we could do was to start walking, and we did. It’s almost nine miles from there to Estingham, but we got really lucky. We were just at the edge of the town when a bus came looming out of the fog, absolutely full and going ever so slowly. We ran after it, and the conductor was really kind and he let us jump on and stand on the rear platform, and then it crawled all the way home. If that hadn’t happened, I think we’d still be walking!

Well, thank goodness it did.

So I don’t like living here and going to school in Orlesbury. And we still have to wear short trousers, all through the first year. It’s freezing!

As soon as we started the new term, the choir began rehearsing a miracle play. We’re going to perform it in April. It’s about Noah’s Ark, and I’m going to be a mouse!

Bachelor Boy.

And now we’ve joined up with the choir of the Girls’ Grammar School. The girl mouse is a lot taller than me!

Girls often grow faster at this age, Peter. You’ll catch up later.

“You’ll catch up later.” Huh! That’s what people have always said to me!

Up On The Roof.

They’ve put us into separate “sets” for French and Maths now. I’m in the top one of both. And our French master actually makes us sit in the order of our latest test results! So I’m on the very back row next to the other top boy. I don’t like always being set apart, Jane.

Don’t worry about it. Just be proud. But modestly proud.

Ready Steady Go! That’s the latest pop show on the telly. And it’s easily the best ever!

It seems to me that the best way to be the best for you is simply to be the very latest.

Yes!

Ah, modern youth!

Ha-ha-ha!

Talking of modern youth ... there was a real surprise on the telly two weeks ago. We watched a BBC play called Madhouse On Castle Street, and Bob Dylan was actually in it! At the very end he sang a song called Blowin’ In The Wind. Amazing!

It certainly was!

Your Cheating Heart.

Why doesn’t President de Gaulle want Britain in the Common Market? It sounds as if the French are still being very ungrateful.

I don’t really know — or care very much.

Go Away Little Girl.

* * *

24 February

Island of Dreams.

Hooray! Dad’s factory is moving to a brand new building on the other side of Orlesbury, next autumn. So then he would have to catch a second bus each way, too. And Robert’s not very happy with all this travelling either. So Dad says he’s going to see if we can find a house in Orlesbury that’s quite near his new factory and both schools.

Hooray!

Don’t get too excited, Peter. It might never happen.

Oh, it must!

Another Beatles song! Please Please Me. It’s great!

I think so too.

Harold Wilson has become the leader of the Labour Party. Is that important?

Probably. I think a lot of people are tired of waiting for it to be as good as Macmillan said it already was, more than five years ago!

Hah!

Sometimes, if it’s really bad weather, we don’t have to play rugby at school on Friday afternoons. We have to do stupid cross-country running instead!

But three weeks ago the Sea Scouts finally started going to the Orlesbury pool on Wednesday nights, just as Skip had promised. It’s great fun, and I’m learning to swim properly in the nice warm water. We go into town on the bus at seven o’clock ...

I thought you didn’t like the bus journey ...

... but afterwards Skip takes us round to the Fish and Chips shop in his old open lorry, and we each buy a piece of cod and some big pickled onions, and we sit in the back of the lorry and eat them while he drives us all home.

I’d have thought you’d be really freezing, sitting out there in the cold winter wind in your scout’s shorts and with your hair not properly dried ...

I don’t feel the cold on Wednesday evenings.

Big Girls Don’t Cry.

There’s a quiz show on the radio called Top Of The Form, and our school’s taking part early next month. We’ll all be in the audience for the recording, and it will be really exciting to listen to it when it’s finally broadcast!

So you are just a little bit proud of the school, then, despite all your complaints?

Yes, of course! It’s the best in the town!

I like Take Your Pick on the telly. You can win fantastic prizes, like a brand new car! I’m going to get on it as soon as I can!

And the best of British luck to you.

I’m reading the Jennings and Darbishire books now. They’re allowed out on adventures all the time. Why isn’t real life like that?

Are you really asking me, Peter?

No, not really.

* * *

31 March

Walk Right In.

Dad’s found a house in Orlesbury for us, and we’ve all been to see it! It’s right on the edge of the town, so you should like that, Jane, and there’s a gravel pit behind it where I can go fishing, and it will only be a one-mile bike ride for Dad to get to his new factory, and a ten-minute bus ride into school and all the shops! Mum says she might even think about finding a job again. So everyone will be happy! And we could be moving there in May!

Fingers crossed again, Peter. But I shall be very sad to leave Estingham. And the new house is much smaller than this one, and it has hardly any garden ...

I don’t care. I’m not a gardener!

Hava Nagila.

The Beatles have got an album out at last! It’s also called Please Please Me. But we don’t have a record player that can play LPs, so I shan’t bother asking Dad to buy it. Bah! Humbug!

Why is Dr Beeching closing down hundreds of railway lines and stations all over the country?

To save money and clog up the narrow country roads with even more buses and lorries and cars.

I thought doctors were meant to make things better.

He’s not that sort of doctor.

Double Your Money is another exciting quiz show! I want to go on it and win a lot of money and buy a proper record player.

* * *

28 April

We’re definitely moving house next month! Hooray!

How Do You Do It?

We finally performed our big play just before Easter, twice, in one of the churches in Orlesbury. Once we’d paraded down the aisle and gone into the Ark, we all had to sit underneath the stage and sing most of the songs and hymns from there, while the main actors did the play above us! Then we all marched out again at the end, singing the final hymn. It was great fun! Mum and Dad enjoyed it too.

So did I.

From A Jack To A King.

And they had to go to a Parents Evening at school the same week. When they got home they told me a funny story. They went in to see my French master, and Dad introduced himself, and then the master said ‘You know, he’s a rather naughty boy, and he’s not trying hard enough.’ They couldn’t understand it! Eventually Dad said ‘But I thought he was so good at French,’ and the master said ‘You are Mr and Mrs Carr, aren’t you?’ He’d heard their surname wrong! He thought they were Alan Carr’s parents!! After that he was very apologetic, and he told them how pleased he was with my work.

That’s all right, then.

Those people protesting in Aldermarston about nuclear weapons never give up, do they?

No. Good for them!

We watch That Was The Week That Was every Saturday night. Everyone’s calling it TW3 now. I still don’t understand much of the political satire, but it often just makes me laugh anyway, and there’s always a song that mentions a lot of that week’s news.

Say Wonderful Things.

Sander went to the Holy Land at Easter. She brought back thirty special palm leaves, one for every boy in the class, and she’s all smooth and mildly-spoken now, rather than her usual rough and nagging. I wonder how long that will last ...

In Dreams.

So, how are you this month, Jane??

Eh?

Oh, don’t bother, brother.

I love watching the Tenpin Bowling on the telly on Saturday afternoons.

You ought to be outside playing with your friends.

No point now. I shan’t see them much again after next month!

Summer Holiday.

* * *

31 May

Can’t Get Used To Losing You.

We moved house last week. What a relief! It’s so good to get to school in just fifteen minutes. And I think I’ll start cycling there soon.

Walk Like A Man.

The new house is quite narrow, and it’s not very smart inside, but at least I still have a bedroom to myself. We had to leave most of our large items of furniture behind, but we’ve bought some of the previous owners’ stuff, and Dad’s going to have a small three-piece suite made by our new next-door neighbour who’s an upholsterer.

And we’ve got our first fridge! Well, we’ve inherited the previous owners’ old one. So Mum can now keep the Fish Fingers for more than one day!

But we still don’t have a telephone! Or a proper record player!

Oh, stop moaning! You’ve got everything you really wanted.

I suppose so.

From Me To You. Another great record! I’ve learnt all The Beatles’ names now. I like Paul best!

Yes! He’s So Fine.

* * *

24 June

Deck Of Cards. Well, I got a few for my birthday, but not fifty-two! And I was secretly hoping for a proper record player, but I only got a little crystal radio set, and I can’t seem to receive many stations on it.

Mummy and Daddy had to borrow a lot more money to be able to move here, Peter. So please don’t make any more fuss about it, especially to them.

All right then. I Like It. Is that better?

Yes.

Actually, Robert and I both got simple little fishing kits today, too. So we can try them out in the pit behind the house soon.

Good luck!!

Dad’s going to convert the little tool shed in our back garden into a workshop, and try to get some new customers for his repair business.

Take These Chains From My Heart.

And now there’s been a woman in space! Valentina Tereshkova’s wonderful! I want to ...

Stop! I daren’t even imagine what you’re going to say this time!

We have to play cricket at school in the summer term. I’m no good at it. Another game where you have to just stand around most of the time! And when it’s finally my turn to bat, I always get bowled or caught out after a few balls.

The older boys are allowed to play tennis, you know.

Right, I want to be older now!

Do You Want To Know A Secret?

What’s the Profumo scandal?

You don’t need to know.

Yes I do!

Too bad.

* * *

31 July

We broke up from school a few days ago. I can’t believe I’ve been going there for a whole year!

Yes, the time has gone very quickly. But you’ve had so many new things to keep you busy, haven’t you? Not like me. I had to leave my beloved Estingham, and whenever I go back there now it’s just not the same. It’s not mine any more ...

It’s My Party.

I’ve been fishing several times in the pits behind our house — often straight after school, still in my uniform! Robert sometimes comes too. The quarry’s still in use, and there are very old but working conveyor belts, and even older broken strips of heavy rubber discarded alongside them. We always fish in the big, deep pit, with a little float and a tiny piece of bread on a hook, and we catch small roach and rudd.

But there’s a shallower pit in one corner, full of old junk thrown down from the lane above. The men who work at the quarry say there are pike in it! I’ve never seen a pike, but I have seen photos of them. They’re very big, and they’ve got lots of sharp teeth. You need much stronger tackle to fish for them. But I’ll do that one day!

Hello, Peter. I am still here, you know ...

Oh, hello.

Devil In Disguise.

Robert and I went to the cinema together to see Cliff Richard in Summer Holiday. It was fantastic. I wish I could drive a bus. I wish I could go to France. I wish ...

I wish you could find some time in your head for me these days.

Da Doo Ron Ron.


Proceed to part 2 ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

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