Me & Lou

Lou is very imaginative- and also kind, caring and helpful. And when she gets packed off to the countryside during the war, she finds that those qualities are important. But can she keep up the soft approach, even when panic, trouble and worry hits?

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7. Birthday

"Hello, there- welcome to Victoria's birthday party!" I said, welcoming in guests. That's what Ida had been so stressed about; Victoria's fourth birthday. But now, it was three weeks later. The house was decorated with handmade streamers and banners, and Gwyneth and I were on door duty, whilst Ida darted about in the kitchen area, setting the table full of sausages and buns and cakes, all home-made, obviously. 

Gwyneth looked stunning. Her poker-straight hair was right down by her waist. She was wearing one of her Mother's old dresses- a Twenties' flapper dress, golden-yellow, with tassels. She goes to tap and ballet, so she was wearing her tap shoes, looking like she was going to meet the Royal Family, not attending a sticky little one's fourth birthday.

Ida had MADE me a dress. Grandpa fought in the First World War, and he had old silk maps- maps made of, well, silk. They were very long and smooth- so Ida made me a dress from them. It was swishy and beautiful, and I felt like a princess. Rosie was just in dungarees, and Jem was in his knitted jersey jumper and trousers, lugging about a huge book named '100,000 Ways To Perfect Your Grammar'. Lovely. And the birthday girl herself was in a matching dress to Ida; purple, with orange tulips printed on- it was fantastic. 

Guests piled into the front room- mostly young children with mothers. They all had knitting, because Ida had summoned a sewing and textile club, leaving Gwyneth and I to do the hosting. 

"Okay, so, is that everybody?" Gwyneth asked at last, sticking her head out of the door. "Yes? Alright, let's get started then!"  We wandered past the grown-ups, heads bent over their stitching, and into the front room, where lots of children were running wild.I clapped my hands together and they all stood, staring up, confused as to why they had to stop.

"Party games!" I announced, and they all cheered and ran up to me.

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It had been a long morning. Pass the Parcel, Musical Bumps and Charades had all gone wrong. The children had argued and even physically fought, Victoria clapping and squealing with enjoyment. But now everyone was sitting munching on food, Victoria the head of the table, with balloons and ribbons fastened onto her chair. Gwyneth and I sat in the front room, in peace. We talked about school, work, all of those things when- the doorbell rang. 

"I'LL GET IT!" I heard Victoria yell,and then, with the squeak of a chair, she ran up to me, took my hand, and pushed open the door. Emily, my 'train buddy,' was there, with, an old lady, who was looking after her.

"Emily?!" I said, surprised. Emily waved shyly.

"Yes, she's my friend!"  Victoria explained. "You've missed the party games, Emily!"

"Yes, we're so, so sorry!" The old lady said. "We were at another party- busy day, really!" Victoria looked slightly annoyed, but then she laughed, and pulled Emily into the kitchen, the two of them chatting away. Gwyneth came and hooked her arm in mine.

"Let's go and grab a bun," she said, "Before those icky fingers get all over it!" I sniggered, and we marched to the kitchen, like friends. Best friends. 

  

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