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George

george

I don’t understand all this now, how it all fitted together. I have something wrong with my mouth… the right words don’t go in and out properly.

 “Come on you, get your bloody self out of it, you’re needed”, that’s my father. You could hear the heavy ones coming down not too far away. Whole buildings would be falling down. This bomb had come down and hit close to the van that took the fire wardens around... and there was six of them in the back of that van... we had to help push them into the ambulance. I don’t know now how they fitted together… all on stretchers… one bloke said, “Mind my knee”. That’s what he said to me. The bomb took the bottom of his leg off and he doesn’t know. He’s saying, “Mind my knee”. The next day my father said they were all dead... poor old sods. All I knew was that one of them had a bad knee. He was stuck under the van... in the cab... they had to cut him out double quick. The whole thing was on fire. They got the ambulance down with the stretchers, and we throw them into the back of the van, and sped them off…   and the van got hit. 

I remember seeing a bombed house round the back of Victoria… seeing a man standing outside the bombed building for weeks to see if his wife would be brought out alive. We all knew she was dead. I remember walking in cinder buildings one day and this woman said to me that we’re going to have a new man take over the bank… a new governor.

There were waves of planes every two minutes some nights. It was hard luck if they caught you out but that’s all it was... bad luck. 100 yards further up Victoria Street and I’d have been gone. I was in Victoria when they dropped a bomb just down the road from the tea shop… we all barge in… bombs are falling… the guy’s hiding down under the bloody counter… there’s a glass dome on the roof… it could have brought the roof down… shit, there’s bangs… and I remember a bomb in the park when I was on the bike… that was in the daytime… bloody awkward… drop the bike on the side of the road and dive down the shelter… it was daytime… you could see him up there dropping them… I was right in the shit.

I was called up... everyone was in the same boat. Like it or not you were called up and you had to go. I moved around... did any bloody job to be done. I went to Rome and the place was packed. It was a special death and, oh blimey... those things on the outside, they were covered up. They were kind of coffins but they were not actual coffins... not stone ones either. There were two... tanks… not actual tanks… coffins… they’re not coffins... they’re made of steel… two pushed together end to end… the first joined to the second… they’re joined together because in that church there, when they die… and now I’ve got to think. Two people... two... Popes were dead... had died. One was in there... and one was in there... and those would join together, waiting for when the time comes and the two go into one. I never knew this kind of thing happened but I thought it seems that it must be right whatever they’re telling you. The two coffins would end up making one man... not one man… but the two coffins would join together and become one. We was lucky enough to have a view of the whole lot… they bring em out in… bloody hell what was it? Those two coffins will go in to one another and only one man can come out… and they don’t know which one it will be… they have to put the two together… join them up… and let God decide what will happen.

We got a bomb dropped on the bloody fire car round the back of Victoria Street... he dropped one that hit the train... we weren’t there at the time... I was hiding out of the way... but he hit the engine and pushed it deep under the ground. The whole lot went to nothing... I wasn’t there... I was in one of the places where I stayed with my mother... we wouldn’t stay at home neither of us would stay at home... my father being a warden was here, there and everywhere... as a matter of fact I was frightened. I was very frightened. This plane drops a bloody load of bombs and my father picked me up in a shelter... “What you doing here? Get home and look after your mother.” When he started he was the governor... no argument. The problem was that I was the only bugger in the shelter because everybody else had pissed off down the underground and pissing off wasn’t the kind of thing you do... but I did. I remember hiding in the shelter and my father appearing out of the smoke and telling me to go home... “Get your bloody self out of it, you’re needed.” I felt so ashamed.

I don’t understand all this now, how it all fitted together. I have something wrong with my mouth… the right words don’t go in and out properly. It’s not very nice being here… this isn’t the first time… the first time I came here I was just one of the soldiers… but now I’m here a while… now I’m just Granddad.