Monday house linen wash day
Tuesday Wednesday house cleaning
ironing unless dressmaking needed.
Thursday big wash again.
Friday walk to shops and back
several times to stock up for
weekends when shops closed
5.30 Friday to 9 am Monday
for housewives carless in our
fifties post war shortages .
Then smaller clothes washings
by hand or in the copper daily.
Smaller daily shopping walks
to the little shops clustered round
our big local intersection: baker
butcher greengrocer stationer
chemist draper hairdresser shoe
shop for both purchases and repairs
post office hardware and gift shops.
Home to bring in washing, fold
dry clothes, put away, air still
damp washing over wooden
dowelled airing frames.
Prepare dinner start it cooking
on the stove and in the oven.
Sit down for pre dinner
sherry and cigarette. Aaaah !
With your ears full of infected
gunk you don’t hear much at all.
People’s mouths move you don’t
hear the sounds coming out.
Mum moves round the living room
you don’t hear the vacuum cleaner
or things being moved around.
Mum cooks in the kitchen you
don’t hear the pots and pans or the
fork mixing food in the bowl.
In your bedroom playing little
cars you don’t know if people
are in the house unless they
come along to your room.
At night in bed you are told
to go to sleep but silence is
scary, you need big sister.
Little cousin had many ear
infections at two, then three.
Trips to the doctor brought
repeat medications yet his ears
kept being horrible to him.
One desperate Friday night dad
took him to an emergency doctor
who prescribed new medication.
Those ears knew they were beat
they got busy hearing again.
At four little cousin is getting
to know the world around him.
After gymnastics the girls did
homework with Auntie Jo
ate dinner dished up by Grandma
and strawberries she brought down
from the bay. Auntie Jo ran a bath.
Bathing was fun as always then
Auntie took little brother to his
room read his bedtime story.
After goodnights all round she
put out the light, waited in Mum’s
chair for him to go to sleep.
“Mummy ! Mummy !” through
the dark. “Mummy’s coming
home from the city. ”
“Daddy ! Daddy !” “Daddy’s
bringing Mummy home.” He
asked several more times, at
last little brother fell asleep.
His parents had messaged from
the city, were on their way home.
A news clip had shown a two year
old in a bomb blasted airport
crying for her dead mother.
A friend’s old grandfather at
two years old asked the neighbours
for his mother – recently died.
Little brother’s parents came
safely home that night.
He was blessed.
One cold dark morning at 5.30
in 1960 an energetic milkman
on our main street in the centre of
town heard faint mewling sounds
from a phone box as he delivered
milk. He rushed the tiny baby in
its shawl to the police station.
Police enquiries in our little city
yielded no leads. Fostered then
adopted the baby grew up happily
with good family, good job.
In time he married. As his children
were born he made public enquiries
as to his origins through the media.
No one came forward.
As his grandchildren arrived he
went public again on radio, TV
newspapers, social media. One
person came forward but DNA
produced no biological match.
Local police in 1960 and to this day
say someone would have known
something come forward if the
baby’s mother lived locally.
Until 1964 the railway line ran
alongside our main street, the
station a few minutes from that
phone box, the overnight express
paused there at 5am. That night …
… it carried a mother with the old
shame of illegitimacy who left her
baby in the dark then reboarded a
carriage at the rear of the train.