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WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
Civic Centre, Bedford
People in story: 
Jack Beck
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
04 June 2004

The room was big and smelt warm. I looked around. Tick tock tick tock. Such a huge clock. Almost touching the ceiling. Never seen one like that before. Sat there. Short trousers tight. Legs red and chapped.
What shall I do?
Look some more. A big table covered with a brown cloth. The cloth is pretty, has bright patterns on it made of brass thread. Bet that took a long time to make. Can't be brass though; it's to shiny. Must be gold. Brass goes green. Snother clock on the mantelpiece. Pictures on the wall and a Chinaman sitting each end of the fireplace. Someone coming. Sit up straight. Behave yourself.
"Drink this", she said.
I looked up at this lady with a kind face handing me a glass full of milk. better than a jamjar of water. we used to fight over an almost empty jamjar. the winner could break up crusts of bread and rub them around the inside. There may have been some jam left behind.
"Are you hungry?"
She had friendly eyes and was smiling at me. Earlier she had given me a bar of chocolate on the train. a real bar in blue paper. I kept the paper to smell later.
It reminded me of a time before and another lady. Can't remember her face. Wish I could. I try. A mist only, a sad mist. I sat watching as you looked out the window. I try hard to remember you. I didn't know it would be important. No blue wrapper to remind me of you.
"Yes." I didn't know what else to sya. She was so clean and smart with pretty hair. Hope my hands are clean.
"Wait here a moment. Don't be frightened, i won;t be a minute." She left me alone again. Pitter-patter on the lino. Into the room came this huge black dog. Scared, i sat still.
"Don't worry about Bob, " the knid lady called out. "He just wants to say hello."
The dog paused, looked at me, came closer and rested his head on my chapped legs. Gingerly, I touched him. "Please don't bite," I said under my breath. Bob was looking ith big brown eyes. I could see his teeth, then he was licking my hand and his tongue felt warm and slippery with saliva. I felt brave and reached out. Patted his head. His tail started wagging and his paws scratched on the lino. How different Bob wsa from the dog that had chased me over the bombsite and made me fall.
"I like you Bob," I whispered. "Be my friend."
I take another look round the room. Was that a real elephants foot in the corner with umbrelas sticking out? I like the big table. We could hide under there, Bob, when the bombs drop.
Back there the other women shouted at me when the kind lady came. "No bombs where you're going and behave your bloody self."
I'd lost my gas mask and got a beating. I don't want to go back there.
Footsteps approach. I look up. The kind lady again. A big slice of cake. Cor! Just like you see in the pictures. It tastes so good. Better than bread nd dripping. Bettter than anything.
"You must be hungry," the kind lady said. "Have another piece then I'll show you to your room. Do you want to go to the bathroom?" Funny. What do I want a bath for when I had one last week? That time the water was cold and dirty because the fire had gone out. Soap had all gone. Hope this kind lady won't yell at me - "Scratch your head again and I will scrub it with paraffin."
"Do you like Bob?" she asked.
I like the room.
It smells safe.
I want to remember how it is.
How it was as well as what it might of been.

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