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Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

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Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 9: 1963

part 2 of 2

30 August

Bad To Me.

We went to Bristol at the start of the month, to look after Grandma again.

One day I borrowed Steven’s pushcart and rode it down the track towards the brook. But I fell off and took a big chunk out of my knee!

A little chunk, Peter.

And halfway through our stay, there was a Great Train Robbery somewhere in the Midlands. They stole a lot of money by ambushing a mail train, just like the Indians in the Wild West. But they hurt one of the train drivers too. That was very bad.

It was all very bad.

Grandma seemed a lot frailer than when I last saw her. While we were there, Mum had to call the doctor to come and visit her, twice. She didn’t have to go into hospital. But Auntie Rose has just sent Mum a letter saying Grandma’s not very well at all now.

Twist and Shout. Two of them, actually. I like The Beatles’ version best, but it’s on an EP so it hasn’t gone so high in the charts! Which one do you prefer?

The Beatles’ version, too.

They’ve signed a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty! That’s wonderful news, isn’t it!

It’s very promising.

You’re not saying very much today, Jane.

I’m feeling rather tired. And I’m very concerned for Grandma.

Oh. Right.

They showed a black man called Martin Luther King making a dramatic speech in America yesterday. He said ‘I Have A Dream’ over and over again. Do you think his dream will come true?

Maybe a bit. They never come completely true. Or sometimes they do, but too late.

Sweets For My Sweet.

When we got back from Bristol, Robert persuaded Mum and Dad to let him go and stay with Uncle Charlie and Auntie Barbara in Wood Green this week. He said it’s ’cos he wants to spend some time chatting to Grandpa about the skills and techniques of his old electrical trade, before he decides what to do when he leaves school. But I reckon he just wants a few days away from us and close to the bright lights of London!

That’s very unkind, Peter.

So I’m wrong, am I?

I didn’t say that.

Uncle Bill bought himself a brand-new typewriter recently, so he and Auntie Rose left Mum his old one as a thank-you present for looking after Grandma again. We brought it back with us from Bristol, as well as a huge box of plain paper that Bill can’t use for business letters because it’s all gone a bit faded. Mum says I can borrow it whenever I want to. So I’m going to teach myself to use it, and then copy out every word of our diary, from all the different exercise books I’ve used, into one big typed storybook.

That’s a very nice idea.

* * *

30 September

She Loves You. Isn’t that just brilliant, Jane!

Yes. I think it’s their very best, so far!

So does everybody else!

It’s All In The Game.

It was Robert’s birthday three weeks ago. I can’t remember what he got.

Let’s hope it wasn’t something nasty.


I’m Telling You Now.

I’m in the second year at school now, of course. And they’ve reorganised all the classes. I’m still in the top one, but Yeti has come up into it as well. That’s really good. I always thought he was very clever.

Yes, it is good. But his name’s Jamie!

I know. But I couldn’t help myself calling him Yeti on his very first day in the new class. And then he called me Wally, and then ...

I know. Well, now you’re probably stuck with it for another four years at least. And you only have yourself to blame, this time.

I don’t care.

Yes, you do.

We’ve started Latin. It’s even more like Maths than French is! Lots of tables of nouns and verbs to learn off by heart and then use to work out everything else! Just the sort of thing I like!

And I’m finally allowed to wear long trousers! But they’re really too warm in this lovely weather ...

Oh, give me strength!

Mum loves watching Coronation Street on the telly. But I think it’s a bit humdrum.

I agree. That sort of thing is called “kitchen sink” drama. You’d do much better to go into another room while it’s on, and read a good book instead.

I might. But on the other hand it is rather mesmerizing ...

Oh dear. Do be careful, Peter ...

Then He Kissed Me.

Robert met a girl while he was at Grandpa’s.

I know.

He’s been writing letters to her ever since he got back. Her name’s Catherine. Isn’t that funny!


* * *

27 October

Blue Bayou.

Poor Grandma died three weeks ago, and Mum and Dad went to her funeral in Bristol last week. I asked them to tell me about it, but they didn’t want to, as usual.

I’ve talked to you about this before, haven’t I?

Well, I’m going to miss Grandma, even if they aren’t.


I’ve learnt to play chess! One of my friends at school has a pocket set, and we walk around the “Close” playing it every lunch-time!

I still love Latin. I can see now where a lot of English and French words come from. And at last I’m beginning to understand all about grammar and parts of speech and all that stuff. I had no real idea about those before!

Perhaps you will be a writer one day.

Oh, I doubt it, Jane. But I want to learn a hundred languages and visit every country in the world!

Oh, Peter ...

Hello Muddah! Hello Fadduh!

Dad’s already got lots of new customers, and he spends all his spare hours in the garden shed, as usual. But Mum and I play table tennis in the dining room every evening after dinner, and she helps me with my French vocabulary at the same time!

How can you possibly concentrate on both things at once?

Oh, easily!

If I Had A Hammer.

I keep thinking of what Harold Wilson said at the Labour Party Conference at the beginning of the month. It was something like: ‘... the Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this scientific and technological revolution.’ What exactly did he mean by that?

Well, I think he meant two things. One: there’s going to be a lot of rapid change in the world, and Great Britain can play a big part in it. And Two: I intend to be your next Prime Minister.

Right. Well, two weeks later, Harold Macmillan resigned because his health was worsening, didn’t he? And Sir Alec Douglas-Home has taken over, but everyone says he carried on shooting grouse on his Scottish estate when he heard the news, rather than coming straight back to London to run the country.

Well, I’m not sure that was quite right, or very fair on him ...

But does that sort of thing make it more or less likely that the Labour Party will win next year’s election?

A lot more likely, I’d say.

We watch Sunday Night At The London Palladium every week. It’s okay, but it seems very old-fashioned these days.

What it needs is some pop groups to liven it up. Like The Beatles!


The First Time.

Robert brought a weird postcard home last week. It was a photograph of a man and a woman with no clothes on, pushing their tummies together. He asked me to look after it carefully for him. But I took it to school the next day and showed it to a few of the boys, and then I put it in my desk, and when I came back after lunch it had disappeared. Robert was really annoyed. I don’t understand what all the fuss was about.

Don’t worry. He’s forgotten about it already. So should you.

I’m reading the Bobbsey Twins books. They’re really strange. Everyone speaks English, but they seem to live in a very different world from ours ...

Yes, Peter. It’s called the USA.


Bob Dylan held a big concert in New York this week. Everybody loved it!

Do You Love Me?

* * *

25 November

Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy on Friday! We were watching the telly in the evening and they interrupted it to tell us. And then soon afterwards they said Kennedy had died.

It’s tragic. Poor Jacqueline.

Millicent Martin sang a wonderful song about the President on TW3 on Saturday night. Everyone was crying — even Robert.

So was I.

And then yesterday Jack Ruby shot Oswald! They showed it all happening on the telly. It was awful!

It’s an awful world sometimes. Too often.

There’s a real sense of this being something very significant, isn’t there, Jane?


But it’s not at all clear to me why that is.

It’s a bit clearer to me. But only a bit.

Tell me.

Another day.

Be My Baby.

There was a very strange report today about something Kennedy said to Macmillan when they met two years ago. About women, and getting headaches. Did you understand it?

Not now, please, Peter. Not now ...


You’ll Never Walk Alone.

They said something else on the News. They said two famous writers called Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis have both just died — on the very same day as Kennedy. Do you think I should read their books?

Oh yes. Definitely. Start with The Chronicles of Narnia. And when you’re older, read Brave New World.

Sugar And Spice.

I almost forgot! There’s a brand new telly series called Doctor Who. They showed the first episode on Saturday. I was still thinking about Kennedy, so I wasn’t really concentrating, but it looks very exciting.

You Were Made For Me.

They’ve opened the Dartford Tunnel under the River Thames. Now all we need is a car!

Peter .......

I know.

My bedroom’s cold and damp. Not like in our bungalow in Estingham with its lovely kitchen range keeping the place warm all night. And Daddy has to get up and make a coal fire in the living room every morning before going to work. It’s as if we’ve gone back in time.

No further comment.

I Who Have Nothing.

I found a fascinating second-hand book on a market stall last weekend. It’s called The Education of a Poker Player. I don’t know anything about poker, but I’ve read the first chapter. The writing’s really good, and it will give me a much better feel for life in America. Well, life over there fifty or sixty years ago, anyway. And one day I’ll be a great poker player myself, and I’ll travel the world and win a fortune.

Fools Rush In.

* * *

Christmas Eve

Secret Love.

I found my Christmas present by accident! Well, it must be mine — it can’t possibly be for Robert! Mum and Dad have bought me an electric guitar and an amplifier! They hid them in the loft, but I went up there today to check for mice, and ...

Very funny, Peter. But please, please don’t tell them you know about it!

No, I won’t. Of course I won’t. But I’m so happy! I’m going to be in a pop group soon!

I’m very happy for you too.

Glad All Over.

But how could they possibly afford it?

Well, Grandma left them a little money in her will. And they decided to give you and Robert something very special. I think he’s going to be rather pleased with his own present tomorrow!

Oh, do tell me what it is!

All right, I will — as long as you absolutely promise not to tell him ...

I promise, Jane!

Okay. It’s a second-hand motor bike. He won’t be allowed to ride it on the road for another eight months or so, but Daddy’s sure he’ll absolutely love stripping it down, and cleaning it up, and replacing any faulty parts, and all that stuff that boys enjoy. And by the time his sixteenth birthday finally comes around, next September, he’ll have the best bike in town! Well, almost ...

Oh, that’s really good. He’s going to be so pleased!

I Wanna Be Your Man.

Peter, you always write a few extra words here every Christmas Night, don’t you?

Of course. Ever since 1955 ...

Well, I’m not sure there will be time for that tomorrow.

Why ever not?

I’ll tell you in a moment. And you’ve still got plenty of time to spare before tea today. So would you please turn over the page and start a new section of our diary? Especially for me?

Oh! All right, then, if that’s what you really want.

Yes, Peter, it really is. Thank you ...

I Only Want To Be With You.

Proceed to Chapter 10 ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

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