What’s to eat mam I’m starving?
There’s a Rhubarb tart and some scones there, help yourself.’
Tom went into the scullery and cut himself a big slice of tart; things were easier to get in the shops now since the end of rationing in 1954. The repairs to North Shields were still going on after the Germans bombed the town. The biggest tragedy was the Wilkinson’s pop factory where 107 people were killed. The factory had been used as a shelter and on May 3rd 1941 the factory took a direct hit. Whole families were wiped out in a split second.
People still talked about the war, ten years after the war ended. Agnes Taylor his mother spoke of how she would go into the shelter in the garden during the air raids with young Tom who was only a baby at the time. The shelter was turned into a shed after the war by his father.
George remembered the victory parties held in the streets after peace was declared.
The morning of Tom’s first day at Archers Bakery his mother made him breakfast and made sure that he had a hot cup of tea before he left to start work. He was just fifteen years old; a boy in many respects but soon to make his way in a man’s world.
He cycled to work on the bike that his mother and father had bought him for his fourteenth birthday. He looked after the green coloured Raleigh and cleaned and polished it each weekend after school. It stood in the passage ready to be ridden to work as he ate a slice of toast with home made strawberry jam which tasted far better than Robertson’s he thought.
His mother had made him a sandwich and placed a small bottle of lemonade in a bait bag that had been given by his grandfather. He even wore his grandfather’s cap which was pulled down over his right eye the way the yanks wore them.
He waved to his mother as he set off along Saville Street then turned right at Coach Lane and passed his old School Queen Victoria Junior School. He remembered standing outside of Mr Smith’s door waiting to be punished for flicking plastercine via his ruler at Alan Reid a kid in his class who sat with constant snot on an elastic band; that’s what it looked like anyway. It hung down about four inches long and then would be sniffed back up by Reid. The incessant sniffing drove Tom to distraction until Tom lost his temper and flicked a huge ball of plastercine into Reid’s eye.
Mrs Hottentrot his form teacher who was a right old battleaxe with holy drawers and varicose veins took him straight to Mr Smiths room after he was reported by the class swat Michael Errington.
“I’ll get you for this you toffee nosed bastard said Tom as he was led ceremoniously by the ear to the heads room by Mrs Hottentrot.
“Wont’ you ever learn Taylor; said the head as Tom held the desk while Smith lashed his arse with the strap.’
Tom took his punishment then went back to his classroom; he knew that he would be back after break after inflicting retribution on Errington. At ten thirty the teachers would walk around the school yard either smoking a pipe or holding a hot cup of tea in their hands. Many had a whistle around their necks and the sound of it reverberated around the school yard as they walked around. Tom made his way to the top of the school yard where he knew Michael Errington would be. He calmly walked up to Errington then punched him in the eye. Errington fell to the ground screaming like a baby as Mr Humphries told him to go to Mr Smith’s room again. Errington would have a big black eye very soon thought Tom as he walked towards the heads office again.