The little girl was delighted with her present and was very eager to get home and start practicing knitting. On the way home, the little girl’s mother stopped to talk to Mrs High and Mrs Honeywood. Mr High worked at the railway station. Mrs High sadly had a hump on her back but she made the most of life and her garden, which had trees with lovely eating apples and lots of fresh vegetables, was the envy of all the people in the street. Tina Honeywood had a heart condition but she could usually be seen, leaning over her gate and smiling and greeting everyone. Further along the street lived old Polly Vesey. She had a little straw hat perched on her head and wore a long black dress down to just above her ankles. She made a living washing and lying out the dead. She was thought to be very eccentric and she always had a vacant look on her face. There was another Honeywood family that lived opposite Mrs Vesey. They had two sons one of whom, called Oofie, was very well loved by the children. Oofie was a very sweet lad who always smiled and waved. One year when the river flooded, the Honeywood’s house was flooded and they had to manage the best they could until the water receded and still the war raged across the English Channel.
Next door to Mrs Vesey lived Mr Turner with his wife and two daughters, Peggy and Mary. Peggy was a plump and simple girl and Mary loved to doll herself up with bright red lipstick and was rather fond of the American soldiers. They were both inclined to be overweight which was rather strange considering the food shortages that the country was facing. Mr Turner had a pet goose and it was not usual to see him take a walk in the street with the goose trailing behind. Mrs Turner was also very fond of leaning over her garden gate to gossip with passers by.
Further along the street was old Mrs Bird. She took in washing and was quite bent from years of bending over and doing other people’s washing and ironing. She had to look after her two young grandchildren whose mother had run away and left them for a man. A family of evacuees lived in a tiny cottage across the road from Mrs Bird. Poor Mrs McCloud had a very loud London accent and she cleaned houses and offices to earn a living. Her two children, Harold and June, both went to the local school with the little girl’s brother and sister. After the war, the McCloud family moved back to London.
Mrs Muriel Hancy lived next door to Mrs McCloud. She had two young and very blond boys and her husband, who was the little girl’s cousin, had been caught poaching. The Magistrate sentenced him to two years in Norwich Prison. Her mother-in-law helped her as much as she could during this difficult time.
Old Broomie lived in the street above the little girl’s street. He was short and wore leather spats over old riding jodhpurs and a battered trilby hat. He was never seen to wear anything other than this outfit. He had a patch of ground without a blade of grass on it and he kept pigs and chickens and had a dirty white-coloured pony. Every day he hitched up the pony to his trap and off he would go to do his rounds on Bungay common. The pony trotted at a brisk pace and Broomie kept a good eye out to see that nothing was wrong in the area. What was he looking for? Perhaps he imagined an enemy plane shot down with a dead or injured pilot in it. It was certainly a possibility. His wife, called Riaha, also had a hump on her back. She too was always smiling and hanging over her garden gate to greet her friends in the street. Broomie and Riaha had a son called Rubin who worked as a milkman for the little girl’s father for a while until he was replaced by a land girl.
When the little girl got home she set about trying to knit. Her sister Wendy tried to help her and showed her how to make a plain and a pearl stitch. The little girl kept dropping stiches and her scarf was very holey but she persevered, and eventually went on to become a really good knitter. She even got her Brownie’s craft badge when she was older and actually knitted a little short sleeved jumper.
Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town (coming soon)