Vera’s Life: Part Six

This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 757 words.

The following year, something exciting happened. One of Albert’s foremen bought a new radio, and offered to sell him the old one. It was discussed with Elsie, as it meant using their meagre savings. Things were not going that well in the world, with mass unemployment in America and Europe. Fortunately for the Dodds family, Elsie’s job was secure, and though there were no extra Saturdays being worked, Albert was fully employed too. It seemed that England still had need of cheap jam, and things made of iron.

Albert borrowed a sack barrow from work to wheel home the heavy radio, and Elsie helped him carry it upstairs. Clara Simmons came up, and she sat next to Vera and Elsie as they watched Albert waiting for it to warm up. The huge dial on the front listed lots of numbers and the names of faraway places, and the big cabinet it was fitted into took up a lot of space next to the fireplace. After some high-pitched whining sounds, and a lot of crackling noises, they finally heard the sound of orchestra music coming from the front. Elsie smiled. “Turn it up louder, Bert, don’t forget Clara is a bit deaf”.

Vera had heard radios before of course, as Vivian and Roy had one at his mum’s place. Roy was paying it off on hire purchase, so much a week. But to have their own one in the front room was something so exciting. Albert fiddled with the dials, trying to find a news broadcast, but Elsie yelled at him. “Leave it, Bert. Let’s just enjoy the music for now. Read the evening paper if you want to know what’s in the news!”. Reluctantly, he twisted the dial back to the music, then sat down and rolled a cigarette. Vera sat back and closed her eyes, trying to identify each instrument as they played their solos. Violins, piano, cellos, it was just wonderful.

That Sunday, Viv and Roy came round with baby George. Vivian had been sure all along she was having a girl, but there were problems at the end, and she had to have an operation at the hospital to get the baby out. He had been named George, after the King, and Albert, after dad. Roy was a mechanic by trade, although he aways kept his hands so clean, you would never know that he worked on cars for a living. He had bought a motor bike and covered sidecar after little George was born, and when they turned up, Viv was sitting in the sidecar holding the baby. It made so much noise that Vera put her fingers in her ears until the engine stopped. Her dad said Roy would never have any money, as he spent everything he earned.

When George was seven months old, Viv had gone back to work at the vinegar factory, and Roy’s mum looked after the baby. But it was two buses to get to work now, so as they ate the meat paste sandwiches and fruit cake, she was telling them that she was looking for a job closer to home. She had heard that there were jobs going at Kennedy’s sausage factory, and she could walk there. So she was going in to ask them about a job the following week. Vera held the chubby baby on her lap, constantly whispering into his ear. “Auntie Vera. I’m your Auntie Vera”. She was hoping it might be the first words he said.

Just as Elsie was making the third pot of tea, and Roy was droning on about how he would ideally love to buy a car, there were two knocks on the door. One knock would have been for Clara downstairs, but two knocks was for them. Albert went down, and came back up with Uncle Derek. His overcoat smelt so strongly of mothballs, it made Vera’s eyes water. His face was grim. “It’s May. She’s in a bad way. They have taken her to St George’s Hospital. Get your things, and I’ll take you in the car”. Aunt May lived in Pimlico, in a nice house that Derek had inherited. After collapsing at home, her doctor had not wasted any time, and had sent her to the hospital at Hyde Park Corner in an ambulance. It was so serious, the doctor had suggested Derek inform the family.

Vera had to stay home with Viv and Roy, and as the car left with her parents and uncle inside, she could see her mum was crying.

39 thoughts on “Vera’s Life: Part Six

  1. Your knack of picking out memories that have stuck in Vera’s mind moves the story on well with its familiarity with the reader.
    I’m just glad they managed to fit a radio into my phone as I would be lost without my daily companion 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My first memories are Watch with Mother and Listen with Mother, but when I lived in South Africa they didn’t have TV so I got very used to listening to the radio, including novels, whilst doing other things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even when we had a TV I used to still listen to the radio. Later, I got my own transistor radio to use in my bedroom, and listened to all the pop music on pirate radio and Radio Luxembourg.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. I read two this evening as I was away from home yesterday. We called our radio ‘the wireless’. I remember twiddling the dial to find foreign stations. I think I was convinced I was listening into spies communicating with each other!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I learned to appreciate the ‘radio years’ from my father, hearing Amos & Andy, The Phantom, and The Thin Man on tapes. I know there were others but I can’t recall the names at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Both sets of my grandparents had the kind of radio you describe. My maternal grandfather had his on an enclosed front porch where he could listen and smoke a pipe (smoking was not permitted in Grandmother’s house). My other grandfather had his in the dining room near the wood burner used to keep the front of the house warm. I had one of those radios until 1999 when I finally ran out of a reasonably priced source for replacement vacuum tubes (vacuum tubes cost several times more than a new radio). Warmest regards, Theo

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  6. (1) Vera’s room was jam-packed with scrap iron animals.
    (2) Overheard…
    “Turn it up louder, Bert, don’t forget Clara is a bit deaf.”
    “A bit deaf? I used to be a tadpole,” said Kermit.
    “That’s it! Let’s take a poll,” said Elmo.
    “Count me out,” said the Count.
    “Don’t be such a grouch!” said Oscar.
    (3) “Leave it, Bert. Let’s just enjoy the music for now.” No wonder Albert called Elsie his Iron Maiden!
    (4) Albert Einstein thought Albert & Elsie were relatively out of sync, but admitted time would tell.
    (5) In Anglo-Norman England, “Roy” was derived from the Norman word for king. So it only makes sense that Roy would name his son George, after the king.
    (6) George was exposed to the noisy engine of Roy’s motorcycle at a very young age. By his second birthday, he was every bit as deaf as Clara.
    (7) Note to Vivian: Forget Kennedy sausage. Try Lincoln sausage. Better yet, try a sausage whose founder won’t be assassinated.
    (8) Bad citation: “It’s May. She’s in a bad way. Vera, you stay. And be sure to pray.”
    (Uncle Derek is hysteric. Someone please tell him this is no time to rhyme.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Loved the radio. For one thing it didn’t demand your complete attention. You could go about your daily routines and still listen.
    And Vera is getting more complex. The fact she listens to music and tries to identify the instruments is as interesting as her love for books. Nice character, Pete.

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      1. I was born into a TV world, but do remember when everything went “COLOR!” I also remember when my comic books offered a way to make your Black-n-white TV “color”…it was a sheet of plastic with three horizontal stripes of green, blue and red! HA!

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        1. I remember my Dad watching snooker (our version of pool) on TV in black and white. The commentator had to keep telling the viewers which colour ball the contestant was trying to hit. I also remember those stick-on ‘colour’ screens you mention. They were much the same as when we used to watch a B&W TV using sweet wrappers in front of our eyes to make it look ‘colourful’. The year we got a colour TV, my Mum watched Wimbledon Tennis for hours. She kept saying “Look how lush and green that grass is”.
          Best wishes, Pete.

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