Memories: Double Summertime
by Wendy Pycock
During the war, so that farmers could make full use of the daylight hours, the clocks were put forward two hours in the summer months. It was known as "Double summertime."
Light nights didn't make any difference to my bedtime though. If Mother forgot, brother Stephen, when he was around, would be sure
to remind her with, "It's gone half past seven Mum!"
Behind her back, he'd snigger at me. I sat for hours gazing out of the back bedroom window with the net curtain draped round my ears. One evening I remember vividly. Snatches of chatter drifted up from the garden below.
“They'll be praying for it if we don't have rain soon," said Mum as she folded the last sheet into the wicker wash basket. This she addressed to our neighbour Jessie, who was watering her geraniums at the other side of the hedge.
Further down the garden, Dad was up some steps clipping our high privet hedge. Pausing to relight his pipe, he remarked, "Best show of sweet peas I've had in years, just smell 'em
Mum didn't answer, but I sniffed and could smell them well enough, they were my favourites. Behind the garden shed, Dad had lit a fire and as he dropped on another pile of clippings, smoke spiralled skyward, not a breath of air to deflect it. Dad loved bonfires. Mum said I often played with fire but she didn't mean bonfires!
Brother Stephen who was very good at disappearing when it was time to help, had been caught by Dad this particular evening, who'd supplied him with a sack and a brush, to gather up the hedge
clippings that fell thickly in front of the shears. Dad kept his shears honed to perfection and threatened us never to touch them.
Some of our Gang, ‘The Back Alley Mud Splashers’ were still out playing on the home made swing we'd rigged up in the Rec. earlier in the day.
"Lucky devils," I thought. Stephen looked up at me and extended his vast tongue and smirked all over his stupid face. Huh! he hadn't been smirking at teatime though. Fancy at twelve, he still couldn't do long divisions!
Over to the left, Mr. Wilson, who lived four doors away, walked down his garden, tall and thin he always looked mysterious behind his dark tinted spectacles. Little did he know we'd spent a good hour in his orchard earlier in the afternoon, pinching apples and pears, or that I'd suffered with stomach-ache ever since!
I'd fallen off his rotten old corrugated iron fence and torn my skirt. I'd still to tell Mum about it and her machine would be needed to mend the big rip. It had been Betty Robinson's fault, she was supposed to have kept watch, but she'd cleared off home. Then Mrs. Hanson had spotted us from the pedals of her ‘sit up and beg.’ She gossiped all round the village, Dad said she was as good as the "Home Service" on the wireless!
Mr. Wilson came down the back lane to yarn to Dad. Mum called dear Arthur to collect the
clippings behind the delphiniums. As he got nearer to Dad's prize dahlias, Arthur knocked off two heads, I watched him kick the heads under the peony bush, but Biddy our keen eyed spaniel, retrieved one and padded off to present it at Dad's feet as he chatted.
Dad, turning his attention from our neighbour lunged towards Stephen’s behind, just visible, beyond the peonies, Stephen straightened up swinging the half full sack and knocked off the heads of three more dahlias on to the path.
"Er...Er, sorry Dad," was not enough from Stephen and he ducked as Dad landed a good clip to Stephen’s cup- handle ears, telling him meanwhile he was more nuisance than he was worth.
"Three cheers for Dad," I said out loud, delighted to see Stephen caught in the act, for once! If I'd been down there he'd have blamed me without a doubt! As Stephen rubbed his ear my older sister Sally came through the garden gate.
She worked late most evenings in the offices of nearby ‘Blackburn Aircraft.’ She was going to be married soon and I was to be her chief bridesmaid, I was looking forward to the event,
except for the fact I’d no front teeth! I'd already tried on my long dress that Mum had made.
Guess what Stephen had said, "All yer need now, is yer gas mask on!"
Sally held a newspaper parcel, "come on, I've got everybody fish and chips." "Can I have some please, I called from my window? As Sally nodded, Mum called, "No, get to sleep, it's nearly nine o'clock."
Stephen dived into the kitchen for plates, glancing up as he went, to grin at me. I made sure I was looking elsewhere!
While Mother piled the last of the clippings on the fire, Sally slipped up to my room with a
saucer of chips, all for me! She even remembered the salt.
Back downstairs Sally put the kettle on for tea,
while outside everyone was tucking in to their supper. I was quite good at aiming, I rolled up my chip paper in to a tight ball and fired it straight into the dustbin, where it landed next to the dahlia heads, already thrown away. Mum called, "Stephen, get me another cup of tea please."
As he disappeared indoors, I watched Biddy creep to Arthur's half finished supper he’d left on the ground.
What a dog, Biddy was just snuffling up the last crumb of batter as Stephen returned and Oops! he
tripped over the remnants of his supper and the dog. Mother's favourite china cup and saucer went flying.
I discreetly dropped the net curtain and sank back in my bed and reached for my comic, but not before I beamed toothlessly into my dressing table mirror! Wendy
WOW.. great writer! I thoroughly enjoyed your story.. thanks for sharing!