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U3A Writing: Homecomings

M W Henson recalls the immense joy of returning to one's own home.

On a warm evening last Summer, several friends and 1 were whiling away a few hours on the patio with a glass of wine or two and the conversation somehow got around to home comings.

Reg, now in his seventies, recalled his few home leaves from the Army during the second World War. After the ecstatic welcome of the family, his mother would immediately ask "when are you going back", thus bringing to mind his inevitable return to Army life, probably only forty-eight hours away.

We then remembered returns home from holidays abroad, packages of course. Having left the blue skies, warm seas and day long sunshine of Spain, Italy, Greece and the like, we would arrive at some unearthly hour in the morning; either to Luton or Gatwick Airport, to a depressingly grey, wet Britain with a gale force wind blowing across the tarmac to the Terminal Building. We would be cold in our Summer clothes so optimistically put on a few hours earlier, but really with a sneaking happiness, not voiced, that we were home and a good old English 'cuppa' not too far away.

This led me to talk about what I consider to be quite the best home coming that I ever had.

I had a very happy village childhood living on the outskirts of Dover in the age of bluebell woods, blackberrying and nutting, the annual visit of the hop pickers from London's East End and of picnics on the pebbly beaches of Shakespeare Cliff and St. Margaret's Bay. This was long before the invention of the Hovercraft,. and Le Chunnel was a futuristic dream of a few "mad" scientists and engineers.

In those days each home coming from school was a pleasure; home to my mother's smile and welcoming hug after only a few hours separation, and to the warmth and love of a happy family home.

All this, however, ended very abruptly in June 1940 when the sounds of war were a mere twenty one miles away across the Channel and became more ominous each day. I was evacuated to the comparative safety of Wales, to the care of my grandmother. She was very kind in her way but was a rather formidable woman "having had a hard life and suffered from her legs", and for the first time in my life I was made to feel a bit unwanted and rather a nuisance. This, though, was to lead to the memorable homecoming.

After several long and miserable months, 1 came home one day, again from school, to find that my father had arrived from Dover unexpectedly. Apparently his hotel had been taken over by the Ministry of Defence. Oh! the joy I felt (never mind that he was now jobless). There was my dear dad sitting in the best armchair, I was in a seventh Heaven and suddenly all was right with my world.

Would that I were a child again when such a small event could bring about such great happiness.


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