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DEAD MAN TALKING

Dad, I know was tempted to tease the little mite but in the end he lifts her up onto the cart and sits her between the pair of us. I turn the old horse around, shouts, “Walk On!” and Sam sets off at a very gentle pace from whence we came. When we arrive at the little un’s house her mother is waiting for her in the street. I give “Fairther” the reins, jump down from the cart and lift the young un down. Her mother, a tall blond headed woman with a good figure, picks her up and gives her a cuddle while I sort out the dresses. I hand them over to her and apologise for the state they were in, after spending time on the back of the old cart. She gives me the kind of smile I have grown used to from the opposite sex and said, “Don’t worry about that I’m just glad I’ve got something to wear now!” She glances back at me and another smile flashes across her face and I recall my mother’s words, “Jack you are a ‘looker’ and you will turn girls’ heads when you are older.” I can’t see it myself but I always seem to have had girls smiling and giggling at me from as early as I can remember and here was another one! I smile back at her but her gaze turns towards her daughter who is now clinging to her legs and realising that she still had the box containing the two chicks in her hand says to her in a soft reassuring voice, “Give the chicks back to the nice men.” “What do you think dad?” I shouted! “Nah! Let her keep ‘em, the poor mite has had enough upset for one day.” The look on the little girls face was enough; she had no need to thank us. I called to Sam to walk on and as we moved off the little girl’s mother blows me a kiss. “You ‘wanna’ watch out for that one!” dad said with a wink of his eye.
Everything was going well for us until August 1940 when Mr. Hitler’s bombs begin to fall all over the Birmingham and the Black Country. There are public air raid shelters provided but the majority of people, including us, have built “Anderson Shelters” in their gardens. Most of the bombing was aimed at Birmingham and the surrounding factories because they are helping the war effort by building aeroplane components, tanks, military vehicles, shells and suchlike.
Understandably around this time most of the blokes from the area have been or are about to be conscripted into the armed forces, the only exceptions being those working in reserved occupations such as doctors, miners, farm workers, teachers and the like. My “faither” didn’t get called up but this wasn’t because the rag and bone trade was considered a protected occupation! No, in dad’s case it was to do with his age and so he joined the local home guard instead.
Over the next couple of years or so we carry on in much the same way but for me the job has become mundane, especially when compared with the exciting lives of the young soldiers, who tell their stories in the pubs around town when they are home on leave. I’m bored with my life and I long to join the army. The year is 1942 and on my seventeenth birthday I go to enlist. I lie about my age and explain to the authorities that I have lost my birth certificate. Sadly for me they decide to check my date of birth themselves and send me a letter explaining that I had to wait another year or so. There was nothing for it I join dad back on the old horse and cart and together we collect as much………………………………………………….

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