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


5. 5

“Go on then love, is there any tea in the pot?

“Aye it was made not long ago I have kept it on the range.

“Joe poured out two cups then added some milk and sugar he stirred the tea then brought them to the wooden table.

There wasn’t a lot in the way of furniture in the two bed roomed cottage.

Joe had two children; Marina who was the oldest at eight and George who was six. Heavily pregnant, Emily was due any time soon. They sat down at the table where Emily cut the pie and put a large slice onto a plate. Handing him a bone handled fork Joe tucked in; he loved his wife’s cooking.

He gave her some money which she put away in a tin above the mantelpiece. He put the other money away to pay for the boat.

“What have you been up to today then?

When you left I got the children up ready for school then I did some washing. I had to rush out and bring it in before the heavens opened. That is why it’s hanging up above the fire Joe.” I’ve ironed you a clean shirt for tomorrow anyway.

“Thanks lass, what ever would I do without you?

He wrapped his huge arm around her shoulder and kissed her on the cheek.

“This pie is lovely Emily.”

“Well there’s more, if you would like another piece.”


“Emily cut him another slice then put it on his plate.

Did you notice the new fashion accessories?

“Has the budgie died said Emily laughing as Joe showed her the trousers that he was given by Peter?

“All my clothes were soaked so Mary is washing them form me.”

“Oh so Mary is doing your washing now is she.”

“Well I had nowhere to put them apart from inside the boat that was full of water.”

“It’s alright you big lump; I would have done the same for Peter.”

“The coat is good though look?

“Yes it will do you for knocking around in.”

Joe took off the trousers to reveal a pair of long johns that were short on the leg.

“Did Mary give you those as well?

“Yes, the socks as well.”

“Happen she fancies you Joe Donnelly.

“Don’t be daft woman; I don’t fancy her; one woman is enough for me said Joe as they both got into bed.

Emily had to sit on the edge of the bed then ease herself in because of the size of her belly.

 Joe blew out the candle before they snuggled up then closed their eyes.


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