|My Dad The Sailor-Smoker!|
During the war,when Dad was away at sea, Mum and I stayed with Granny Ada. Mum shared Gran's double bed in the back bedroom and my cot was against the wall to the left of the door, with the fireplace at its foot. I don't remember this ever being lit, though I swear black's white I once saw a tiny mouse scuttle to hide under its basket. Mum denied it, but to this day, I'm certain it wasn't a figment of my imagination.
The base of the cot was the usual, old fashioned, wire framed base which balanced on the ledge at the bottom of the bars. One night, I must have fidgeted a bit enthusiastically, for one end of the base fell off the supports, and I found myself head down, feet up, as though I was on the slopes of Portsdown Hill! Guess I was so used to the bombs, it was no surprise to encounter a different kind of thing that went bump in the night.
'Mum!' I called out in alarm. Gran, who was either still awake anyway, or simply quicker to come to than Mum, looked across and said 'It's alright Dorry, she's still tucked in!'- as if she was prepared to leave me at that precarious angle for the rest of the night! Luckily, Mum saw things differently… (Long afterwards,when I was older, we all three managed to laugh at the ridiculous situation many times over.)
Eventually, I was old enough to go upstairs on my own, and I had another lucky escape one day. On Gran's dressing table stood a candle and a box of matches. How exciting! I thought I'd have a go at lighting it, as I'd seen Uncle Fred strike enough matches to light his cigarettes. It might be fun to have a go myself… I struck the match on the side of the box, and joy, joy, it lit ! However, the smoke drifted up my nose something awful, and made me catch my breath. I quickly blew hard to put the flame out. At this point, Mum realised I'd gone AWOL, and up the stairs floated the dreaded words, 'What are you doing up there?' Then I got the dressing down I deserved, for the smell of the spent match was enough to give the game away, without my spluttering. As if the German bombs and incendiaries weren't enough, I was doing my own pyromaniac impression. At least it put me off smoke for the rest of my life, so cigarettes never became an attraction.
|Me with Granny Ada|