I met Dick when I was 58 going on 16.
My son said, “It’s a pity you didn’t meet him when you were younger.” Which is odd really because he wouldn’t have been who he was if I’d married Dick instead of Fred, now would he?
There was something about Dick. I’d sneak a look at him through the net curtains taking his dog for a walk, and my heart would do a flutter. I liked the way he looked - strong, dependable. Which he was. Oh, that’s not to say that I didn’t love Fred. He was a good husband too. But in a different way – bit of a father figure really. I mean 33 is old when you’re only 20! But he was a fine catch. Perfect for a young woman without a proper home. You see I’d “lost” my family, in a manner of speaking, so when Fred said, “There’s a little cottage to let up the lane, how about it?” I jumped at the chance. I thought it would be nice to be settled. I didn’t really want to go away with the Land Army, but us women had to join something, so what option did I have? And then he said he didn’t want me to go either. “I need someone to look after me”, he said. Hardly what you’d call romantic. I mean we hadn’t really been courting, just – well – looking each other over, I suppose. But I said yes anyway. Not that I hadn’t had the chance before, mind you. I certainly had!
Just before the war I was courting with this boy who was really nice – good fun. I quite fancied my chances with him – that is until the day war broke out. There we were out together in our Sunday best, him with his little wind-up radio - just the two of us, sitting in the middle of a field, enjoying a nice bit of music, when all of a sudden a voice says “We are interrupting this programme to bring you some news of great national importance” – and then on comes Mr Chamberlain and explains what was going on. It was all very serious.
“Well that’s it then,” my sweetheart says, “ I’m not bringing children into a world full of war.”
And that was the end of that. Well I mean to say, it could have gone on for years, and me a nanny and longing to have babies of my own! It just wasn’t on.
So I married Fred, and had 7 lovely children – well 8 really, counting the one we lost. (pause)
Children have been my whole life really. Maybe it was being in the Children’s Home that started it. Wonderful it was! – just girls and women – We were one big happy family. On Sundays we would wind down the streets in a caterpillar to Liverpool Cathedral. I loved to hear the boys singing: “O for the wings for the wings of a dove, far away I would fly…”.
After Fred died I was on my own for years. But then I met Dick playing bowls. I was 58 going on 16. He was the best pal I ever had.