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Archive for May, 2014

airraid

Mum had another problem on her mind at this time. She had received a letter from Mrs Morris, who was our neighbour in Hackney Wick. In the letter she asked Mum if she could stay with us in Wales for the birth of her baby, which was due the same time as Mum’s. She said she was worried that it would be difficult to find the midwife if there was an air-raid on when the baby was due. Dad said the house was full enough already, as Mrs Costin was still staying with us (along with her vicious cat), and that it would be too much work for Mum and him.

In the end they could not bring themselves to say no, as they felt guilty every time they heard about the raids on London. Mum wrote to Mrs Morris saying that she was welcome to stay for the birth of her baby.

Mrs Morris arrived a few weeks before her baby was due. To our surprise she had three other children with her. Her arrival was far different from that of Mrs Costin’s. She came by train and had to take a bus from the village to our house.

When we ran down the field to help her with her cases, we could not help noticing the difference in her clothes and luggage – everything looked old and shabby. She had a homely face with hazel eyes, pale skin and her hair was worn in a bun. She had a ready smile and was always appreciative of anything Mum and Dad did for her.

midwife

Midwife

A bed had been made up in my parents’ room for her. Dad had decided that it would be easier to look after Mum and Mrs Morris if they were in the same room, as their babies were due at the same time. Dad had to sleep on the settee and because of his health he had to sleep propped up on pillows, which was very uncomfortable on a settee. The three children were made a bed up on the floor in our room. Our house at that time was like a hotel. Poor Mum certainly had more than her share of work looking after us all.

When I think of the primitive conditions we lived in, and not forgetting that Mum was pregnant, I am amazed at how she managed to keep the house clean and do all our washing, ironing and cooking.

The babies were due any day, and my sister Lil, who was working in service at that time, had come home to help Dad. One day Mum was standing by the kitchen table preparing our tea. Now and again she rubbed her back and made a sound as though she was in pain. We were glad when our Dad came in as we thought Mum was ill and we were worried about her. He helped Mum upstairs then he called out to Lil, who had been to get some water, to run to the village for the midwife. It was only then that we realised that Mum was having the baby.

saucepan

While Lil was away, our neighbour Mrs Williams came in to ask Dad if there was anything she could do to help. Dad was very grateful when she said she would give us our tea and then take us all next door for a while. Our Dad had more than enough to do, what with Mrs Costin wanting her meals, and Mrs Morris also feeling unwell. He did not like to leave Mum on her own for long. Dad went upstairs and came down with baby clothes, cot sheets and blankets which he put on the fire guard to air. Then he put water in saucepans, as well as the kettle, and placed them on the fire to boil. We all sat there very quietly eating our tea.

When the midwife arrived with Lil, Mrs Williams took us to her house. We had been there for some hours when Lil rushed in saying we had a new baby brother. Though we were pleased about the new baby, all we wanted to know was if our Mum was all right. Lil said Mum was, but that she was very tired. We thanked Mrs Williams for looking after us and went back home. Lil said we were to go straight to bed and not to make any noise. We would be able to see Mum and the new baby in the morning.

The next morning we were up early, but all of us were disappointed when Dad said that we could not see Mum until the midwife had been. After a long wait we went in to see Mum and the baby. Mum was sitting up in bed looking quite well and showed us our new brother. She said he would be called Alwyn William after the boy next door. He was her ninth child.

Baby Aaron, 4 days old

It was only a few days after this that Lil had to run to the village to fetch the midwife again, this time for Mrs Morris who also gave birth to a baby boy. We had no cots and the babies slept in drawers taken from the chest of drawers.

Over the next few days, our Dad began to look worn out. Lil had to go back to her job, and though we helped as much as we could, the brunt of the work fell on Dad. Mum was up and about, but Dad would not let her do much work. All of us gave a sigh of relief when a few weeks later Mrs Morris decided to go back to London. As the weather began to get colder, Mrs Costin complained that her room was too cold and it was making her ill. To our delight, after a few weeks of moaning about the cold, Mrs Costin decided she would go back to her own house in Kent, taking her cat with her. At last, we had our home to ourselves. Mum gave the small bedroom a thorough clean and the boys moved back. Things were back to normal at last.

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