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Archive for March, 2014

Nineteen-forty was coming to an end, and we were all looking forward to Christmas. My two elder sisters were coming home for a few days. Emm arrived first, looking very glamorous wearing a smart suit and high heels. She had dyed her hair red, and had quite a lot of make-up on. To me, she looked like a film star.

Emm hated anything to do with the country and country life, she loved living in London. By the time she had walked up the field to our house her shoes were all muddy, and her skirt was splattered with mud. Instead of a loving greeting to my parents, who had not seen her for some months, she shouted at them: ”What a place to live, bleedin’ nanny goat land.”

I thought she would be in trouble for swearing, but Dad never said a word. I think he was so pleased to see her, as Emm had always been his favourite daughter. She had a wicked sense of humour, and could make our Dad laugh with her descriptions of people she worked with. She could also be very critical about how other people looked and behaved.

English: Mid Devon : Muddy Countryside TrackOur Christmas Day began early, as everybody had to help to prepare Christmas dinner. There was the water to fetch from the stream, and wood to be collected for the fires. Lil helped to peel the potatoes and as there were ten of us for dinner there were quite a lot to do. There was no money for presents, but Mum had managed to get two oranges, one each for the boys, and some nuts for their socks. The nuts had probably been picked earlier in the year by my Dad. For the four girls Dad had polished a penny each.

pennyWe all enjoyed our Christmas dinner. Mum had saved the meat coupons and managed to get a small leg of lamb, and with this we had roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts and gravy. This was followed by jelly and custard.

Dad lit a fire, and we had two candles burning – luxury indeed! Mum played the piano, and Emm showed us how to do the waltz. Next we had a game of musical chairs. Dad and the boys joined in, but we soon banned them as they kept cheating. Later in the afternoon Mum and Lil prepared paste sandwiches and jam tarts for tea.

English: A group of children at Christmas dinner.

While tea was being prepared, Dad said he would entertain us by playing the piano with his toes. We all looked at Dad in amazement as we had no idea that he could play the piano. However, as soon as he started to play we realised by the awful noise he was making that he was pulling our legs. By the time we’d had our tea and cleared up, it was time for us to go to bed. Christmas Day was over for another year.

Emm and Anne had to leave a few days later. They both worked in munitions factories, but in different areas on the outskirts of London. I think Emm was glad to be going back to her lodgings as she did not like all the inconvenience of living in our house. We all walked to the bottom of the field and waved them goodbye as they boarded the bus taking them to the railway station to catch their train.bus

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