Mammie (Becky’s) Diary
We have moved to a smaller house in Tremaine Road and, in the end, I was quite pleased to leave Mission House. The memories are haunting me.
I saw this article about Sydney in the paper and thought I’d save it.
It’s rather a nice picture of him. Poor Sydney he feels he has let me down not bringing Olga home. He says she looked smart, but tired and her demeanour had changed. Her sparkle had gone and he thinks there is something wrong, but she’s not saying what it is.
When he asked Martha if she knew, she said she hadn’t seen Olga for months. If something has happened to her in England and she feels she cannot talk to me about it, then I have not done a good job as a mother. I’ve let her down, otherwise she would be here knowing there is nothing she could ever do or say that could make me love her less. But at least I know she’s alive.
Last night the tots and I went to the Holy Trinity Church and together with Father Butler we prayed to St Anthony to bring Olga safely home. When Sydney visited Martha he said the first thing she asked him for was money, but he refused to give her any. That surprised me. He says she’s always asking for money and thinks he has an endless supply and, then, almost as an afterthought he added, “I don’t think she was very nice to Olga”. I wonder if Martha has something to do with Olga not coming home”.
In fact, he says he doesn’t want any of the girls to stay with Martha in future because it is not a very nice area now. I doubt that any of the girls will want to go to London; it must be quite dangerous living there with unexploded bombs and much of it looking like a vast building site. How is Olga managing with the winter cold, I wonder? I remember how the harsh the weather could be and how the temperature could drop to freezing. And what if it snows and there are blizzards, can she keep warm? Britain is still recovering from the war and we know they are still short of certain foods and fuel. It’s strange, but I don’t think I could bear to be cold now after living here for so long.
Olga’s Diary (Continued)
Mrs Hammell: Went back to Massey’s Agency to look for a job looking after children. I don’t want to cook any more. I had an interview with a Mrs Gloria Hammell, a widow, and explained that I was a widow too and that my husband, who had been an air force pilot during the war, had been shot down by the Germans over France. She was very sympathetic.
Mrs Hammell has a daughter called Madeline and she wants a live-in mother’s help for her daughter because she has very weak legs and they needed to be rubbed daily with olive oil. I told her about Marie and explained that, although she wasn’t at school yet, she would be starting soon. Mrs Hammell said if she offered me the job she was happy for Marie to come with me as she thought it would be very nice for Madeline to have a companion to play with.
I showed her my reference from Mrs Hurt but she said she would telephone Mrs Hurt and speak with her personally and would let me know about the position when she had made a decision.
Mrs Hammell has a lovely 3-bedroomed flat in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea and Marie and I have a nice room with a big double bed. It’s a good job because all I do is look after Madeline and Marie being there makes it easy because they play together nicely.
Madeline is a kind little girl and doesn’t mind sharing her toys with Marie. I take the girls to Hyde Park quite a bit and when it’s hot they paddle in the Serpentine or sometimes we will have a picnic.
When I first arrived Madeline was very pale and thin, but she is blossoming because we are outdoors so much. She has more colour in her cheeks and her legs are getting stronger. Mrs Hammell is very pleased.
When the three of us are out together, it’s funny, people always assume I am the girls’ nurse. I don’t bother to tell them that the pretty dark haired one is my daughter.
As a special treat I sometimes take them to the London Zoo. There are hummingbirds there and the sight of them makes me homesick. The girls get very excited when it comes to feeding time and they like to throw nuts at the monkeys. Sometimes we go to Regents Park but I avoid the bench I used to sit on, the one I was sitting on when I met Joanne. I try not to think too much about my previous life. It’s over, gone, I have a different life now.
One day when I was rubbing Madeline’s legs I told Mrs H how in Jamaica we rub white rum on our joints to ease the pain and would she like me to do the same for Madeline.
“Are you mad, Carmen? What do you think people will say if my four year old daughter goes around smelling of rum”.
I hadn’t thought of that.
I mentioned to Mrs H I was thinking of sending Marie to a private boarding school and could she recommend one.
“When you told me Marie would be starting school, I didn’t realise you meant a private one.”
She was surprised by my enquiry and I’m not sure if she believed me.
So I told her my late husband left me some money for Marie’s education. But the truth is I’ve saved enough for the first two terms, and hopefully I can save more from my wages. I don’t spend much here.
Mrs H recommended a Catholic convent in Dartford, Kent which would be easy for me to get to from London. The way I see it what happened to me was not Marie’s fault and her education is important and she is entitled to have the best I can give her. That’s what Mammie did for us and even though Sydney helped out, Mammie took in lots of lodgers when we were young just so we could all go to Alpha Academy which was the best Catholic school in Kingston.
And Marie is definitely not going to end up like me, working as a servant.
So cold: This is what it must be like at the North Pole. It snows all the time and the temperature is freezing. Last night is was -9°C and it said on the wireless that the sea froze at Margate.
The Prime Minister says everyone must save fuel. Things must be bad because people are being sent home from work and told to go to bed to keep warm.
The army is being used to clear roads blocked by snow and drop food from helicopters to farms and little villages in the countryside and some old people are dying because they cannot keep warm. Isn’t that terrible?
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