Today I have a guest post by one of my favorite author’s, as part of the Blog Tour of her latest book which was released last week. The Punch and Judy Girl by Sheila Newberry, you can also check out my book review here. For now, read on as Sheila shares some memories.
Don’t forget to check out the other posts on the Blog Tour.
ROUND AND ROUND WE GO Sheila Newberry
Just an ordinary day, back in the 1970’s …
SCENE: Our kitchen. TIME ‘twixt seven and eight.a.m. DAY: Take your pick!
ATMOSPHERE: Very early-morningish.
Long trousers, short ones, mini-tights and teen-tights, football socks and nappies galore jostle for a place on the airer above the solid fuel stove – never mind the weather-every day is washday-has been for fifteen years! Muddy shoes in rows await the shoe-cleaner-of-the-day: Mum juggles between flipping eggs in a giant pan, stirring porridge, either too thick or too thin, applying hot-needle-and-burning thread to a button bereft cuff, comforting elderly baby who has tripped over the shoes and calling to eldest sister to, please! ‘wind’ new baby, yelling in Moses basket.
Short skirts and long hair swish by and plates slide on to the table: little boys queue impatiently outside the bathroom where Dad is endeavouring to shave (the girls have allwashed their hair of course, and taken all the hot water.) Eldest son, back from smallholdingchores, wearing his school uniform (naturally), turns up the radio-clock’s stopped, let’splease try to hear the time! Crumbs! Collects satchel and two elder sisters, quick kisses forMum and the babies and they disappear into the still-dark morning to catch the school bus.
First round over, second-sitting demolishes breakfast and clears table. No. 3 sister, the dark one mid a bevy of blondes, begins to wash-up. Dad endeavours to read headlines in the paper. He probably won’t get a seat in the train or room to open it up later. Elderly baby shuffles in Dad’s shoes, new baby protests it’s his breakfast time, Mum apologises and mixes feed -Dad departs, little boys rush to open the gates for the car.
Second round completed – goodbyes all round for the Junior faction. Turn down the radio, prepare baby’s bath, pot elderly baby. Seven children off to school, one husband off to the office, not bad going. But the day is just beginning!
I wonder how I ever managed with the first seven, who all arrived within eight years. Wouldn’t I feel lonely now without these two little after-thoughts?
New baby chortles as tadpole body swishes through soapy suds and elderly baby pulls out reams and reams of cotton wool and tries to struggle back into her tights. “Good Girl!” she says -turns the potty upside down on carpet while Mum pulls on the baby’s vest. At least clothes are easier to care for now-babygros, no searching for booties-remember
trying to iron out those little puff sleeves?
If I scurry through the chores, if the babies behave, if elderly baby deigns to have a nap -will I manage to type a few lines of that story which was buzzing round my head as I fed new baby in the dim, quiet night? KING FRED’S DRAGON, that’s what I’ll call it.. ..
Washing blowing on the line, shepherd’s pie in oven, rescue milk from swooping blue tits, change new baby, the first of the endless chain of nappies- how did I manage without a washing machine in those early days? I smile ruefully as I recall the tin tub days -and me and the little ones then, out in the orchard with a tub full of water and plenty of soap flakes, treading the washing and having lots of fun.
Round and round we go -we eat our lunch, enjoy our books and cuddles, wrap up warmly for our walk with Seamus and Hattie the Scotties: what new wonders shall we see along our lane today? We mix a batch of buns, for the hungry hordes, and elderly baby and I lay the table as new baby bounces from his harness fixed in the doorway. He is surely
destined to be a trapeze artiste …
The smaller fry have been met and escorted home: a little later the door opens, and chilly-cheeked children in muddy shoes cry: “Hope tea’s ready, Mum- we’re starving!” I offer a bun to be going on with. “Not many currants … ” Elderly baby likes an egg-cup full of currants when we’re baking, that’s the reason why.
Homework, Children’s TV, babies to bed, juniors splashing in bathroom; girls scoop up toys, bung them in toy box along with hidden crusts and bacon rinds, no wonder I saw a mouse this morning! Eldest son chops kindling for fire with enthusiasm, including Dad’s treasured piece of cherry wood … Oops! Dad’s home!
On our own at last, but it’s time to give new baby his supper. We love him and look at him as if we’d never had a baby before. Dogs out in the garden -dogs in, make up the fire, bolt the door and go yawning to bed. Read until eyes begin to close, slide under the covers.
Day’s round over.
That was my world then, a happy, hectic world. The world of the family. And I never
stopped writing …
Sheila Newberry was born in Suffolk and spent a lot of time there both before and during the war. She wrote her first ‘book’ before she was ten – all sixty pages of it – in purple ink. She spent forty years living in Kent with her husband John on a smallholding, and has nine children and twenty-two lively grandchildren. They retired back to Suffolk where Sheila still lives today.