A Season for Marbles
page 13

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Independent Iris

I lived near Eltham. Schools were spread so thin. We went to school for an hour and half every day. I remember being taken home from school by the teacher. Your mum would take you and the teacher would see you home. There was a shelter on every corner of the road and you had to dive down. There was a chain of children going along and the teacher made sure you all got home safely.

When I left school I worked in a draper's shop in Eltham. It was very strict . There was a manageress and me - a general dogsbody. I had one uniform, brown, to dust the shop in the morning, and another, grey, to serve. I had an abscess that burst on my face - I had to take the day I missed as holiday. I helped dress the doll for the window every week. One colour was used to dress the window then.

I decorated the doll in bits and pieces. It was a baby doll with a moulded head and blue eyes. It was my job. Every week after the bombing, the eyes of the doll were blown out. I had to put them back in every time. I think the memory of this doll rubbed off on me. I have collected dolls ever since. There are two or three hundred of them all over the house.

Father was a baker in the war for the forces. He was a civilian - reserved occupation - an official baker. He baked all night. His apron was plastered with dough. Dirty grey flour. Washing was difficult. Mum used to have to scrape it off. There were no "treats" of bread - as all workers were searched as they left. I had 2 brothers in the war. One brother was a big eater - and he was in the Catering Corps. The other, a driver, was stationed at home. He did better in the army than he ever did on Civvie street.

I used to love going dancing. I remember a night when there were more sergeant's there than usual. I wasn't fussy who I danced with. I was 16. If I didn't dance every dance I was annoyed. The dance stopped at 11. I loved the foxtrot best. We had a live orchestra. The last dance was "Who's taking you home tonight?" Then I'd get the last bus home. It was in a dancing club, above Burton's. That's where I met Ted. I had 2 dresses in nylon - one pink the other turquoise. I loved those dresses and I've kept them all this time.

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