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Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

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Book II: Never So Good

Chapter 8: 1962

part 1 of 2

28 January 1962

Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen.

About five years too late for you, Jane!

Very funny!

The Young Ones.

We all took the 11-plus exam this week. I hope I did well. Mummy’s really keen for me to go to the Grammar School.

I’m sure you did fine, Peter. But stop thinking of that now. It’s another thing you can relax about at last.

Cuba’s made a “trade pact” with the USSR. Trade agreements are good, aren’t they? But is this one bad?

It all depends on where you stand.

Our football team’s doing really well. We’re still top of the league, and we won our latest cup match, and I scored another goal! Mummy was really proud.

Maybe we can even reach the Cup Final!

* * *

25 February

We won our semi-final! We’re in the Cup Final next month!

And Mummy’s still coming to watch every match. She’s the only parent who goes to all the away games as well as the home ones.

It’s really good of her to give you all so much support, isn’t it! This time it was drizzling all afternoon, and she had to take two long bus journeys each way. I hope you told her how grateful you were.

Yes, I did. I usually do.

Crying In The Rain.

John Glenn has orbited the Earth! Hooray, the Americans are winning!

It’s not a race, Peter!

Everyone else says it is!

And the European Space Agency has just been set up. Now I won’t need to go to America to become an astronaut!

I’m going to read all the Biggles books now, ready to start pilot training as soon as I can.

Whatever next!

Let’s Twist Again.

My new favourite telly programme is Z-Cars. I’m definitely going to be a policeman when I grow up!

Is that before or after you become King of England?


The Twist. Another one! Everybody’s twisting, aren’t they, Jane!

Well, I certainly am! And I never get tired!


* * *

31 March


We won the Cup! We won the Cup! We didn’t lose a single match all year, we came top of the League, and now we’ve won the Tournament as well! I’ve got a real silver medal to prove it! And Mummy and Daddy both came all the way on the bus to watch the Cup Final, and they took photographs of the presentations and everything at the end. I’m so happy!

I’m going to send a copy of the team photo with the cup to the Tiger comic, and if we’re lucky they’ll publish it and send the school a brand new Tiger football!

Fingers crossed!

And they played my request for I Can’t Do My Bally Bottom Button Up on Children’s Favourites last Saturday!

With one thing and another, you’re becoming really famous ...


Oh dear. I was only joking, Peter.

* * *

29 April

Wonderful Land.

I’ve passed the 11-plus! Mummy and Daddy are so proud! I’ll be going to the Grammar School in September. Yeti has passed too, and he’ll also be going there. I’ll try and get to know him better in the next few months.

I thought his name was Jamie.

Yes, but we all call him Yeti now.

Keith and several of the others also passed, but they’re all going to the other good school in Orlesbury. So I’ll only have one old friend at the Grammar, which is sad, but at least I won’t be anywhere near Keith! Except maybe on the bus each day ...

Don’t start worrying about that!


The Wanderer.

And it was a really nice Easter holiday. Neil and I did a lot of walking and cycling around the village and the quiet country lanes. He’s always so cheerful! We discovered a wood on the other side of the playing field, with a tiny stream running through it, which we dammed! And another day we found an old overgrown meadow, right beside one of the roads, with lizards and slow-worms hiding from the sun under wooden boards and sheets of corrugated iron.

I’ve never seen you so happy.

Neil told me that if you chop a slow-worm in half, it doesn’t die, but it turns into two new slow-worms!

I’m not sure that’s quite true, Peter, but I think I can relate to it ...

And I’ve been to David and Andy’s house and beach hut quite a lot. We still only get to play with them during the school holidays, of course, because they’re Catholics.

Hole In The Ground.

Mummy likes watching This Is Your Life on the telly. But I’ve never heard of any of the people they choose for it!

You know it’s a programme for grown-ups.

Yes, and they can keep it!

We visited Grandpa and the family again this month. Boring! But Sally’s lovely! She’s five now!

Dream Baby.

We had to choose the May Queen before we broke up for Easter. Everybody in the class had one vote. I voted for Christine, of course, but she only came third in the end. Sarah came second. She’s got lovely long hair and she’s really pretty, but she does seem to know it, and she only ever talks to her two special girlfriends! But Diane won, and that’s nice, ’cos she’s pretty too but she’s quieter and much more friendly to everyone, including the boys.

But they didn’t have a vote for who was to be the Town Crier at the May Day celebrations. Mr Bags just told us he had chosen me! So I have to get dressed up in a very special costume, and ring my bell from time to time — but I’m used to that! — and call out ‘Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!’ in a very loud voice before I read the proclamations. And when it’s time for the parade and the maypole dances, I have to be the May Queen’s partner! And I have to do all that in front of the whole school and all the parents!


We’ve had lots of rehearsals, and Diane and I got on really well and it all went perfectly. I’m really looking forward to next Tuesday!

* * *

27 May

Poor Diane got sick a few days after Easter, and she couldn’t come back to school for another week. So Sarah was the May Queen on May Day, after all. If only Christine had come second in the contest!

But I had to be Sarah’s escort, and dance with her. We rehearsed it all very quickly on May Day morning! She hardly said a word to me the whole time. It was as if she thought I wasn’t good enough to be her partner.

But you were, Peter. And you and she danced together beautifully that afternoon. You’ve already seen the lovely photographs Mummy took of the whole event.

Thank you, Jane. Yes, I was very pleased with the way it all went. I just wish Sarah could have said something nice to me. And I would much rather have been dancing with Diane ...

Well, I think you should count yourself very lucky to have been able to dance with both those lovely girls! And I saw you stealing a little kiss from Christine the other day!

Only one! And she didn’t complain!

It’s okay, Peter! It’s allowed! I think she enjoyed it too!!

Twistin’ The Night Away. Still more twisting, Jane!

Who’s Marilyn Monroe?

She’s an American actress.

She sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy a few days ago.


I went to Yeti’s house for the first time last week ...

His name’s Jamie. And your name’s Peter, not Wally. You know how much you still hate being called that by everybody. And if you’re both not very careful ...

Oh, do be quiet! And I met his parents, and I played their lovely grand piano.

It’s a real shame you gave up having lessons so quickly, you know ...

My teacher was too old and slow for me. And you know it.

That’s not the point.

Yes it is. Stop nagging me!

Come Outside.

I’m reading Edward Lear’s nonsense poems. They’re really weird. What do you think of them?


* * *

24 June

It’s my eleventh birthday! I got a big Scalextric set!

Are you back again now, Jane?

Yes. Happy Birthday, Peter.

Thank you.

In the Sports Day qualifying heats, Christine and I both tried to clear the same height in the High Jump, but we both failed three times! So neither of us will actually be competing on the day!

You poor things.

A Picture Of You.

* * *

30 July

I got the “First in Class” prize again. I chose an English Dictionary this time.

And it was so funny, at the prize-giving ceremony ... when the headmaster came to give out the Sports Day awards, he got to the High Jump, and he handed out the badges for first and second places, and then he said ‘And in joint third place, Christine Sims and Peter Kerr.’ I thought it was just a mistake, so I didn’t stand up. But Christine did, and she came over to me and grabbed my hand and we went up to collect our certificates together!

I Can’t Stop Loving You.

On our very last day at school, the headmaster invited all the boys and girls who’d passed the 11-plus into his study, and he said ‘You’ve been used to being the most senior pupils in the school, all through this year. But when you go on to your new schools, you’ll be the most junior ones again. And that’s your next big challenge.’

And I got a really nice letter from the editor of the Tiger comic the other day! He said they’ll be publishing our team photo in next week’s edition, and they’ll be sending the new football to the school in time for next season!

Bravo again!

The Telstar satellite has been launched. But there weren’t any men on the rocket! What’s the point?

It’s not part of that project, Peter. It’s a communications satellite. They’ve already used it to send live television programmes to and from America!


Yes, wow! And it will be carrying international telephone calls too.

Hah! We still don’t even have a phone in our house! We have to go all the way down to the red box at the end of the road to make even a local call!

Yes My Darling Daughter.

What was the “Night of the Long Knives”?

Well, the original one was an awful event in Germany, before the last war, but that’s not what you’re thinking of. Harold Macmillan recently replaced a lot of the senior people in his government — literally overnight. It took them all by surprise. So the papers are sort of joking that he stabbed them all in the back ...

Aha. Mack The Knife!

I’ve heard something interesting on the grapevine.

What’s a grapevine?

It’s what grapes grow on. But saying that sort of means you’ve heard a rumour.

And ...?

The music papers are talking about a young singer called Bob Dylan. A lot of people think he’s very good, because he’s not just singing old folk songs, but writing controversial ones about life and politics, especially in America. And he’s just recorded his first album.

He sounds interesting. But I don’t think I understand life in England properly yet!

Speedy Gonzalez.

* * *

26 August

Not long till school starts now! I’m really looking forward to homework!


We haven’t done anything exciting this summer. Mummy says we can’t afford it, because of the cost of my uniform and everything else I need for my new school. Robert’s very annoyed. He wanted to go on a proper holiday.

Robert will be all right. He’s had plenty of nice new presents and clothes in the past. It’s your turn now.

Why did Marilyn Monroe have to die? She was still young and beautiful, wasn’t she? Like Catherine and those footballers and Buddy Holly and all the others ...

Yes, she was. But I think she was also very unhappy, and she took her own life. It’s all very strange and very sad, isn’t it?

Yes ...

I Remember You.

Who’s Nelson Mandela?

He’s a brave man in South Africa who’s protesting about apartheid. He was arrested on the day Marilyn died.

Let There Be Love.

Proceed to part 2 ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

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