The Black Middens

A story of love and struggle to bring up three children during the war years.
Joe Donnelly, a coble fisherman from cullercoats meets the girl of his dreams when Emily Rose Higgins crashes into him on her bicycle whilst out with her sister Mary Jane. Joe and his brother George, a captain in the British Army ask the two girls out to a dance at the plaza in Tynemouth and they both fall in love. Alan Donnelly the youngest of the brothers is in the Northumberland Fusiliers. it is not long before they all get married. Emily Rose has two children but there are complications during the birth of her third child and she dies leaving Joe to bring up Marina, George, and Helen the newborn child.
After some attempts to try and hire a nanny come house keeper Joe hires a dutch girl called Alina Classen whose parents were both killed by the Germans in the first world war.
Not speaking much English Alina works very hard and teaches the children to speak Dutch and they in turn teach her English. What dev


19. 19

When George returned he embraced his brother;

“Congratulations Joe.”

“You too I didn’t think you had it in you.”

 So have you two set a date yet George?

“Yes, the eleventh of June.”

“That’s mam’s birthday.”

“I’m getting wed on the twenty ninth of May; which was my father’s birthday.”

We will never forget anniversaries will we?

What Church?

“At St Georges Church; where mam and dad were wed; and you?

“The same.”

“Good man; now we have our Alan’s

“It’s tomorrow at three at St Georges too.”

“He’s coming over here tonight for his stag do.”

“That sounds good where are we going?

“I thought the club then hop over the road to the Queens Head.

 “I got a few of his mates meeting us about seven in the club; I went around and told them to tell him if he rang to say they couldn’t make it. He thinks that there’s only going to be us two.”


“There was a noise of the door slamming and in walked Alan.”

“Alright then Alan all set for the big day then?

“Aye I suppose so; you know not one of my mates are coming to my stag do.”

 The bastards said Alan; you would have thought for my last night as a single man they would have made the bloody effort.”

“Well it’s times like these when you know who your real friends are.”

Aye you’re right there George. Come on then; said Joe. Where are we going? Well I thought we would go to the club because there’s a jazz group on up stairs.

“You know I like my jazz; come let’s make the most of it.”

They came out of the cottage and turned down past Mast Lane then St Oswins Avenue then crossed the road they turned the corner then went into the club after showing the doorman there membership cards.

They ran up stairs and opened the doors and someone shouted Surprise!

All of his mates came out of their hiding places and all of his class mates from Marden School.

The walls had been decked with messages balloons and pictures of stags.

“Alan smiled then said” right let’s get this party started.”


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