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The Day Before Yesterday: 67 - A Rupert Bear Book

Gladys Schofield tells of a chilly wartime Christmas.

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

The meat ration, even with a small bonus for Christmas, was not very much and you had to get to the butcher smartish, or the best cuts would have gone but every Christmas Mum liked us all to come to dinner and she had always a feathered friend or two, to supplement the ration. This was always a jolly time, even now with part of the family away. They would each have got their small parcels of home comforts, to compensate a little for not being able to join the family that year.

Alan was delighted with the teddy (and so was the cat). He would carry it around in a large towel, he said it was a shawl. This shawl would trail at the back of him as he hugged his great big teddy.

It was too cold to go far this year, just to friends and relatives. You needed as much time as possible to yourselves as seven days went so quickly and the men had to be back before the New Year, so that ones who missed out on Christmas leave could get home for the New Year.

We did get a visitor who I had not seen for a few years. Beaty and her husband came to visit and they had a little girl with them, just toddling. I hadn't even heard she had married the man who had paid her so much attention, so long ago. He was in the Army now and also on leave. It was just luck they saw Cliff, as they passed by the house, so we had a lot of catching up to do. They moved away after the war and I didn't see her again.

Alan was not very well after his daddy had gone back after Christmas. He was very fretful and had a dry cough. I thought at first he was missing Cliff again, as he seemed to burst into tears at the least thing. I soon found out it was more than that. He had measles. The poor little chap was running a temperature, so I sent for the doctor.

I brought his cot downstairs and made him comfortable at one side of the fire and I slept on a single mattress at the other side. I was like the Princess and the Pea. I couldn't seem to find a comfortable spot, when I did get a chance to sleep. The little lad was quite ill and kept insisting I had shut his daddy out because I kept the inner door shut, for warmth. His little mind couldn't grasp that it would take more than a closed door to keep his daddy away if he was allowed to come home.

The fever soon passed and he began to look more like himself again, so I was able to ask my younger sisters if they could baby-sit, as I needed poultry food. It was quite a way over the Golf Links to get this food. The only shop that stocked it was close to the house we had left. We got this ten pound bag of food each month by surrendering our egg coupons. A 'backyard poultry keeper' was only supposed to keep six hens but we could substitute this food by adding a bit of oatmeal and boiling all the potato peelings. These were drained and pulped and mixed to a crumbly consistency and the hens loved it. We had far more eggs than we could use, the neighbours saved me potato peelings in exchange for an extra egg or two.

Near the store that sold the food was a toy shop. I had promised to take something home for Alan, as he wasn't happy having to stay behind. In the window was a Rupert Bear book, just the thing to keep his mind occupied, so I bought it for him.

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