Emily stayed over that night. I was already asleep when she lay on my
bedspread, covered by a blanket and her street coat. Sally drove Emily
home the following morning, as snow had fallen overnight. Emily had
informed Sally about our overnight dalliance. Sally explained to me that
her friend, Emily, whom she knew quite well, was a trustworthy young
lady with an unconventional innocence.
     While alone with Sally, I asked her if she ever got a high metabolism
when eating fish and chips. Sally scratched her lowered head with eyes
raised and replied; “If it’s what I think it is, you cheeky devil, it’s none of
your business.” After looking up this unusual word in the dictionary, I
explained to Sally that it had nothing to do with ‘you know what’ and
that it meant ‘being able to take in a large quantity of sustenance without
becoming fat.’ Sally replied, laughing, “I have heard of it being called
several different names but never ‘sustenance.’”
Later in the day when Emily called for me, a smiling Sally said, “I
hope you are keeping his sustenance under control.” The word wise
Emily replied,” I have no control over his sustenance. He can do
whatever he pleases with it. I am quite happy with a large intake of
sustenance, as I never get fat.” Sally burst out laughing when Emily and I
were leaving and said, “Enjoy your fish and chips.”
     We sat in the corner of the back seat on the top deck of a bus that was
taking us to a show in Oxford called ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.
The bus conductor, who noticed our closeness, said, “I’ll have no goings
on while you are on my bus.”
Emily replied, “He is my young brother and he’s feeling cold.”
“What he is feeling is not cold, young lady. Move apart.” During the
half hour ride, Emily mentioned Sally’s silly question about sustenance.
After I explained it to her, she told me that Sally’s education wasn’t as
broad as hers and that Sally would have to be informed so I wouldn’t get
a bad reputation. When we left the bus, Emily called the conductor a
‘frigging pervert,’ which were two more words I had never heard of
before. We had a different conductor on the bus on the way home. He
was more considerate and suggested I share my heavy coat with the
young lady, who was asleep and shivering. I removed my warm hand
from my glove and caressed her wobblies, which brought a beautiful
smile to Emily’s face.
     Emily brought me educational books she thought I’d find useful. She
saw the need to expand my communication skills. On a couple of
occasions, she left a list of questions to be answered. It was pleasing to
see her face light up when I gave a correct answer.
Miss Emily Jane Courtney-Cowper was an only child. Her young
ladies finishing school education and confidence were going to make her
a winner. My brief encounter with Emily had also given me a boost of
confidence in being able to parley politely and successfully with people,
particularly the opposite gender. I must say that the association I had
with Emily was a necessary part of my life. Without it, I might still be a
shy stick-in-the-mud who was going nowhere.I saw a lot of Emily
over the holiday. Her family was one of the
wealthiest in the district; she was a member of the ‘upper-crust.’ Emily
and I went to the cinema often and to a show in London. Because I was
broke, she paid and called the shots. I went along with her decisions.
Emily was manipulative in many ways but also had a knack of
handling any situation which arose with amazing dexterity. We spent
several evenings together and I found that she could also be an exciting,
loving friend. After twelve days of listening to her saying, “I have
decided,” her superior control freak thing finally got to me.
Remembering what I had learned previously, I also concluded that a rest
from our activities would prevent me from ‘going blind.’
When I said goodbye to Emily, who had to return to her Army unit,
her sniffles and watery eyes demonstrated her sadness. I explained that
her generosity and closeness as a friend had been a great comfort to me. I
told her she was a beautiful person with a beautiful mind and that
knowing her would make my life richer. Emily wiped a tear from my
face and we kissed. Emily then ran crying to where her Daddy stood. He
comforted her as he led her into their house. As the door closed, I was
overcome with sadness. (It would be another eight years before I saw
Emily again, but by then I would be more mature!)
Although I spent Christmas day at the Parker’s, most of my holiday
was spent at Sally’s house in Chiplington. Before Christmas I attended a
funeral. I was in the pub for the wake and became violently ill when
given a pint of beer to drink.
        About two days before returning to the school, I buried Sally’s pet
dog, Dane in her back garden. It took many hours of digging due to the
frost and the size of the hole. (Dane was a Great Dane.)
Emily’s mother, Mrs Caroline Courtney-Cowper, delivered me to the
train station at Paddington on Saturday 3 January. She was returning to
her business in London after the Christmas break to take part in the
January sales. Mrs Courtney-Cowper gave me ten shillings and told me
that there was something about me that she found likable but she didn’t
know exactly what. I smiled inwardly at her statement and then thanked
and complimented her on her generosity and for being such a beautiful
lady. Caroline (as she had asked me to call her) gave me her address in
London in case I was ever at loose ends. This nice lady then told me that,
as a member of the Parker family, I had become sociably acceptable and
had behaved admirably with her darling daughter,
It would be another six years before I saw this absolutely delightful
lady again.
     I arrived back at the school to find the police investigating the
mysterious death of Ricky Pinder. He had allegedly committed hari-kari
by using the weapon he would normally use to kill the pigs on the farm.
He was under a cloud of suspicion due to his supposed immoral activity
with boys at the farm. I expect that all the pigs on the farm would have
squealed with joy knowing his demise.
The day I left HNA,  7-1-42; To join The Royal Navy at 15.5 years of age,
 few of the nicer staff members gave me a few
pennies to spend on my journey. The school authority generously
contributed one shilling and a packet of sandwiches. Many boys came to
wish me good luck, some of whom I had had little to do with at the
school. Although I was glad to be rid of that dreadful school, I was going
to miss the friends I had made there over the years..  Fini.


I am glad that there were some positives about that very bleak upbringing. And yay for Emily. She sounds like a very generous soul.
Vest said…
EC. It was about 1950 When Emily proposed after she divorced her first drunken
Beau,Shortly after I tried to get away from my naval service by purchasing my release, Sadly for Emily I was unable to so, due to the Korean war having started and I was required to stay on thereby ending the romance. However,I Met her several years later long after I had married Rosemary but only briefly for about an hour when she was with Sally her friend, she had wed again and was driving a real flash car and she cried as I left her. I heard later she had passed away at around 70 plus, RIP.
River said…
I'm amazed at your memory. I barely remember my early years. Perhaps I've forgotten them on purpose.
Like EC said, I'm glad too, there were good things among the not-so-good happenings.
Anonymous said…
Written with great colour and recollection.

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