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The Day Before Yesterday: 34 – Coronation Day

Gladys Schofield swings her handbag at a man on a fairground ride.

To read earlier chapters of Gladys’s life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/

The old King, George the Fifth, died in 1935 and his son Edward the Eighth was crowned King the next year. We got a day’s holiday to celebrate.

It was a lovely day for May and got quite hot in the afternoon. Mum took home-made lemonade to the playing fields where the children were gathered together having a party after parading around the villages again with the brass bands. All the houses were decorated with flags and bunting fluttering from the upstairs windows. They really went to town on these occasions.

It's a shame Edward abdicated. We liked him. He was never afraid to listen to the complaints of the miners. Like Charles he had a soft spot for the ordinary working man. What a pity he got attached to Mrs Simpson, but that's what love can do. He gave up the throne to marry her. I feel she wormed her way into his affection. His brother was a much weaker man, unprepared for the responsibilities.

In the evening of that same day, a fair came to the celebration. I was not yet sixteen (but getting there). Dorothy wanted someone to accompany her this evening and asked me. I was growing up fast, but seven years is a big difference in age. I took the chance as I was still wary of going out alone.

The evening was still warm and the fairground was packed with revellers all bent on a good time. We decided to have a ride on one of the many roundabouts and stood waiting for it to stop. I remember the tune of the time. It beat out non-stop as we watched, 'Boo hoo, you've got me crying for you.'

Eventually it came to a halt. Two men Dorothy knew, but I did not, had joined us at this point. Whether this was pre-arranged or just coincidence I didn't get to know, but the men decided to ride with us, one at the back of Dorothy, the other climbed behind me.

All was fine for a start and the roundabout began to pick up speed. He was certainly a man of the world and thought I was fair game as he tried to slip his hand inside my panties. Again, my handbag became my weapon. I swung it around to bash him in his face. Unfortunately, it opened on collision and the contents scattered all over the floor. I couldn't do much more as I whirled around to the strains of 'Boo hoo,' but he had got the message and realised I wasn't going to be his conquest for tonight.

As it came to a halt, the operator made his way to me, his hands filled with the contents of my handbag. I don't know if he saw what had taken place, but I was very grateful to him for retrieving them and thanked him.

Dorothy just stared. "What happened?" she asked. After I told her that her friend couldn't keep his hands to himself, she turned on him and said, "What do you think you are doing? She's only a kid."

This man had the cheek to say he was sorry and could he take me home. This I declined and wondered, is it always a fighting match each time you have a date. This is not like the fairy stories I loved so much as a child.

Not long after this I reached my sixteenth birthday. The night before I had been walking with Dorothy and we had gone rather a long way. It wasn't often she took me along, as she seemed to have plenty of dates but never seemed to find the right man. She had the freedom I never had. We shared the same double bed, I was often disturbed as she crept into bed late. With children staying at home until their wedding day, our house was pretty full, no one in a hurry to take the plunge into wedlock.

It was a sunny day, the day of my birthday. It wasn't an exciting time like today, maybe a card and small gift but usually a day like any other. I was off to work before most of the household was stirring but didn't feel all that great. One of the girls said, "Go and rest in the toilets, Glad, and I will see how you are," but again I passed out, so was sent home for the day.

When I got home my mum had all her lines full of washing. I was surprised she had managed it so easily. Then she showed me the reason. Dad had been helping her the week before by turning the heavy handle on the mangle that squeezed the water out of the clothes, and he decided it was time for a new washing machine.

That was all the rage again. These power-driven machines took all the hard work out of washday for her, and those first few days she washed everything she could put her hand on.

I was sent to bed to rest for the day, as Mum knew the walk the night before must have been too much for me, my constitution not being quite as strong as Dorothy's. She came with lunch and said, "Are you friendly with any boys at work? There's a dark boy and a fair one in overalls. They keep riding past the house and looking," but I denied knowing them. I knew they couldn't stay long. It was their dinner break.


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