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Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

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Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 7: 1961

part 2 of 2

30 July

Hello Mary Lou.

They’ve announced a beautiful new sports car called the E Type Jaguar! I’m going to have one of those when I grow up. A red one!

I agree it looks beautiful, Peter. But you’d need to earn an awful lot of money before you could afford it!

I’m already thinking of ways to do that.

I got the Arithmetic Prize at school. Mr Bags suggested I should choose a copy of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Books. It looks quite hard to read, but I’m going to have a good try. I’ve started with A Christmas Carol. I like Ebenezer Scrooge! He has lots of money!

Hmmm. And you were almost top of the class again, weren’t you!

Yes. Paul Smith just beat me to it. But at least all the older boys and girls are going on to senior school now. That will make it fairer on me next year, won’t it? I always think things should be fair, don’t you?

Well I Ask You.

* * *

27 August

We went all the way across to Bristol to look after Grandma this year, while Auntie Rose and her family had their annual holiday in Spain again.

There’s a pub right next door to their house, and we had Dandelion and Burdock Cordial to drink every day. It’s really nice! Well, not so much nice as different! I like doing lots of new and different things all the time!

And we went fishing with nets in a tiny brook at the bottom of a steep farm track, just like the one here in Estingham where Robert crashed Andy’s bike four years ago!

We caught lots and lots of little fishes, including stone loaches, which I’d never heard of before. I love fishing. But I want to use a proper rod and line in a proper river.

Climb Every Mountain.

Why are they building that wall through the centre of Berlin?

For lots of reasons. Partly to keep the Soviet Union people from going into the Western Sector.


It’s the same old story, Peter.

The Cold War?

Essentially, yes.

But they said lots of families have been divided in two!

Johnny Remember Me.

Robert and I have been going potato picking up at the farm near Yeasdon this summer. It’s a long bike ride, and very hard work, but at least I get two or three shillings at the end of it!


They’ve been letting me keep the score in the official book at the village cricket matches this summer. Alongside one of the men who does the same thing in another copy of the scorebook.

That’s because you’re very good at sums and keen to help. I don’t think they’ve ever trusted the job to anyone as young as you. Well done.

And I sometimes check the other man’s scores at the end. I’ve found quite a few mistakes.

Oh, Peter ...

But he asked me to do that, Jane!

And I love the special cakes the players get in the interval. They always let me have two or three of them with a big cup of tea. They’re far more exotic than anything we ever have at home!

I heard somebody betting on the result of the match last week ...

* * *

9 September

It’s Robert’s birthday. He’s a teenager! And he’s gone up into the Second Year at his school.

But I’m back in Primary Four again with Mr Bags. He’s still very kind. But I wish he’d stop calling me Wally!

Isn’t it nice to have your old classmates back with you at last?

Well, a bit, I suppose. At least Christine’s there. I’m sitting in the desk next to hers! We agreed to try and arrange that, and we succeeded!

Actually, I’d forgotten about a lot of the others, after all this time! And there are definitely some new boys and girls too. One of them is called Neil, and he only moved into the village last month. I had a little chat with him at lunchtime. Just to try and make him feel at home, in the way the girls did for me three years ago.

That was very kind of you.

I went to the playing field the other Sunday to watch the cricket, but there was no-one there at all. I’d forgotten it was an away match that day. And then I heard a noise coming from under the pavilion. I got down on my tummy and saw a baby owl limping around, with one of its wings all stretched out. I found a long branch and gently coaxed it out, to see if it would fly away. But it couldn’t. So I picked it up and brought it home. And then Daddy and I went all the way into Orlesbury on the bus, to try and find a vet, but they were all closed. So we brought it home again and fed it with milk and bread. And the next day we went all the way back into town again. But the vets were still closed, because it was Bank Holiday Monday. We finally found the RSPCA was open, and we left it there.

That was also a very kind thing to do, Peter. And Daddy gave up a lot of his own precious spare time too, didn’t he?

Yes. And the next Thursday we found a report about it in the Orlesbury newspaper, saying the owl was doing fine. But the day after that, the big County paper had a different report. It said the owl had died.

Never mind. You did your best for it. I was very proud of you.

Michael Row The Boat.

* * *

29 October

The lessons at school are really boring again. I learnt it all a year ago!

And I still don’t have many friends. Even the children in this class are being rather unkind because I’m the youngest and the cleverest!

But at least I’ve been chosen for the school football team. The headmaster said I was very quick and nimble.

That’s exactly how I said you might succeed, isn’t it?

Yes. Thank you. But the trouble is, the captain is Mr Bags’ nephew, and he still hates me!

Big Bad John.

We’ve already played two matches in the local Schools’ League, and we won them both. The headmaster says we’re the best team he’s ever had! And Mummy came to watch us both times, even to the away game at a school in Orlesbury!

That was very good of her, wasn’t it?


I went fishing with my new friend Neil last month! His dad let us borrow his old rods and reels and stuff, and we went on the bus to the little stream that runs into the lake at Norringham.

Neither of us caught anything. But a very big boy came along and showed us a flounder he’d caught. It was huge — at least five inches long! I asked him if I could have it, and he said it would cost me sixpence, so I paid him and I brought it home.

And then you told Mummy you’d caught it yourself, didn’t you?

Why not?

Oh, Peter!

There’s another boy in my class who wasn’t here when I first arrived. He’s from the Scottish Highlands, and his name’s Jamie, but Mr Bags nicknamed him “Yeti” straight away. Why did he do that?

Well, I still don’t know why teachers do such unkind things. But I do know why he chose that name for poor Jamie. It’s another word for the “Abominable Snowman”, which is a sort of mythological creature living in the mountains in Asia. Some people believe it really exists.

I don’t know if I’d rather be a Wally or a Yeti!

Ah, that’s the spirit!

What do you mean?

There were more CND rallies in London. Do the protestors really think they can stop people using those weapons?

They don’t know, Peter, but they feel they need to keep trying.

But it is worth getting arrested for?

Hit The Road Jack.

I asked you what a massacre was last year, didn’t I? And you wouldn’t tell me.

No, I wouldn’t.

Tell me now. What was the Paris massacre?

Well, France is still fighting a long war against Algeria. And there were peaceful protests in Paris earlier this month by thousands of Algerians living there. But the police attacked a lot of them. Nobody knows how many were killed.

That’s awful.

Aren’t The Flintstones fantastic!


And Thank Your Lucky Stars is my favourite pop music show now!

I love it too!

I’m getting on quite well with the Christmas Books. But they are hard work!

* * *

26 November

Walkin’ Back To Happiness.

It’s nice to be friends with Neil, and with Christine and her own best friend Gillian.

But I’m still being bullied by Mr Bags’ nephew.

You really should tell Mummy and Daddy, you know.

Yes, I think I might, soon. It’s very hard to keep putting up with it. But he is the football captain, and I don’t want him to ask the headmaster to drop me from the team. I’m really enjoying it, and we’re doing so well this year. We still haven’t lost any league games, and we’ve got the first cup tournament match coming up next month ...

And Mummy still goes to watch every one. You’re a lucky boy.

Take Good Care Of My Baby.

Why do “18,000 military advisors” need to go to Vietnam?

It actually means America’s sending lots more soldiers to fight a new war there.

Same old story again?


My Boomerang Won’t Come Back.

I had a lovely surprise last week! Daddy came home from work on Friday evening with an old programme for an Orlesbury Town football match. And the next day he took me to see them! It was wonderful. We stood up in the stands, and I was able to watch quite a bit of the game, even though I was surrounded by lots of tall men. And the floodlights came on just before it started, and that gave the whole stadium a really special feel!

Good old Daddy!

Yes. But the Town lost the game. I wonder when he’ll take me again ...

I’ve been watching Hancock on the telly. He seems even more depressed than he was on the radio!

And they started broadcasting a programme called Songs of Praise last month. It’s on Sunday evenings, and it comes live from a different church each week. I don’t like it. It always looks as though the church is only full because the telly cameras are there. And everyone’s looking straight at them all the time.

Take Five.

I finally told Mummy and Daddy about Mr Bags’ nephew, and they went to see the headmaster about it on Friday. I don’t know what will happen now ...

Tower Of Strength.

* * *

Christmas Eve

Stranger On The Shore.

Mr Bags’ nephew still doesn’t talk to me, but he isn’t bullying me any more. And I scored a goal in our first cup match last week, against Deacon School, so he had to run up to me with all the others and say ‘Well done!’ even though he wasn’t smiling much. And we ended up winning 2-1, so he must have secretly been very pleased with me. I know Mummy was!

Thank goodness for all of that, Peter! And maybe you’ll be able to bring yourself to actually mention the boy’s name one day.

It’s Keith.

I know. But you’ve “said” it yourself at last. Well done. And perhaps you’ll now be able to relax just a little bit more ...

Like our hens? ’Cos we’re not getting many of those funny soft eggs these days.


What did they mean when they said Cuba had “adopted Socialism”?

They meant Castro has confirmed he’s still the best of friends with the USSR. And the big problem is that Cuba’s only a hundred miles from America.

Is this still about those weapons?


Runaround Sue.

I haven’t forgotten what day it is, this year. How old are you tonight, Jane?

I’m just about twenty-one, I think. Old enough to vote at last!


Do you know what I’m getting for Christmas?

Of course I do, brother. But please don’t get too excited.

* * *

Christmas Night

I didn’t get a big present this year. Mummy and Daddy said they’d had to spend a lot of money on my bike in the summer. So they only gave me a stamp album and a few sets of stamps to get it started.

I did try and warn you, didn’t I?

Yes, I suppose so. But they also promised to give me some very special presents next year if I pass the 11-plus exam!

Moon River.

Proceed to Chapter 8 ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

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