Unrepentant

The Callenders also lived in Pringle Street. The mother was wheelchair-bound. Her daughter, Maria, would let me dress in her clothes and play in the parlour. Maria was in her late twenties, about four feet tall with tiny, tiny feet. She wore a lot of make-up and spent a lot of time in the company of Yanks stationed at Burtonwood. Her mother spent most of her time moaning about how her daughter had turned out.

“Look at her,” she’d say, “I’ve given her everythin’ and look how she’s turned out. Fur coat and no knickers. She’ll get into trouble that one will.” Maria, though, was unrepentant: “Oh shut up you old bag,” she would say.

“I’m after money,” Maria would tell me. “I’m gonna marry money no matter what.”

They’d always give me milky tea and I’d run to the shops for them. Well, not quite run: more wobble in Maria’s high heels which were only just too big for me.

Our next door neighbours the Smiths were much better off than us.
They even had an old three-wheeled car. They had two children, Kenneth and Muriel, who had both done well for themselves and left the area. Even as a child I could sense Muriel’s shame when she came back to visit.

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