1945 Disarmed

It was all so noisy, far louder than the old school playground. There was nobody I knew and no quiet corner to get to know someone. I stood gazing at eh huge window through a  watery eye and a sinking helpless feeling that seemed to totally take me over as I thought over the events of the last day. The long bus journeys, three of them. The yellow and green bus into Wolverhampton as usual;  . Then a red bus into Birmingham which took forever; Finally after getting lost, another red bus over the Lickey Hills and a long walk up a drive surrounded by huge bushes. Then she was gone. My Mum was gone; the very one that was always there.

If ever you want to disarm a five year old child, this is what to do. As Mum disappears, frog-march the child off to a large room, undress the child, bath it taking great care to scrub its head with some medical-smelling muck and kit it out with hard unfriendly clothes that stink of …that’s it something unhomely. If you want to give the child something to think about and lots of thinking time, the next trick is to bugger off and leave him or her alone. I don’t’ think it much matters what you say to the child because it’s a waste of breath. Kind intonation might help but probably not. 

After tea in a noisy dining room, It was soon bedtime. Again there was that unhomely smell of bedding, no familiar soft toys but worst of all was the crying of the other new children. I ached for the familiar night-night ceremonies of home, for the nightly chatter with my brothers and the familiar noises and voices downstairs. Another child got slapped for making too much noise so I huddled right down in bed and so began the shutdown of my emotions which was to last for many months. My loving parents had taken good advice and handed my care over to the professionals. 

Between early September and the Christmas holidays, I saw my parents just once for about two hours on a Saturday afternoon in that same noisy play room amongst all the others and one of my new friends had no visitors so he joined the Hinds family gathering. More about our school life later but as Christmas drew near we would chants together: ‘Six more days and we will be, out of the house of misery’. 

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