tremendous shout and scream and Willie came out in a furious
rage and flung thistles and pebbles all over the place; we thought
she'd break the windows. Nobody dared put a light on until we'd pulled
the blinds down. Willie flung these things everywhere, in everybody's
room, and she pulled all the bedclothes off and put them in a pile
in the centre of the room. She did everything nasty she could think
of, to everybody. The place was in a dreadful mess and everybody was
killing themselves with laughing, but Willie was in a terrible state.
It was about 4 o'clock in the morning before we went to
sleep; we had to make our beds again and make Willie's bed reasonably
all right. We didn't know what to do with these thistles, how to get
rid of them, but there was a fireplace in our bedroom and we stuck
them up the chimney. If they ever lit the fire in that room, there'd
have been a terrible mess!
We went to other camps as well; we travelled all around
the country. We went to Towyn and gave a concert there. They thought
it was lovely. They could sing! We played all the local songs and
Ivy would say 'If you want to sing, it's all right by us.' They used
to nearly break the doors down to come in. ENSA had a very bad name,
but Ivy's band became very popular.
The theatre was still standing too. We played there, and when we finished at night we would go to this café. We could have anything we liked there - we used to have bacon and eggs and chips - and we said 'Where does he get his
food from?' We soon started chatting to him and found
out: he had been feeding people in Plymouth whose houses had gone,
and as long as the gas was still on and he could cook, he was allowed
to have as much food as he wanted. Rations meant nothing to him. So
we had a good supper there before we went home to the digs.
At the end of the week, we had what we used to call 'a week out', because for some reason there was no booking for us. Whenever that happened, I made a beeline for home and stayed there for the week.
Willie lived in Wigan, so she and I went to Euston on
the LMS line and I went up to Crewe and she went to Wigan. We travelled
together and both took parcels home for our mothers. We'd been every
night to this café in Plymouth and at the end of the week the man
said 'What are you doing next week?' and we said 'We've got a week
out. We're going home.' He asked us where home was and I said 'My
home's in Crewe and Willie's is in Wigan.' He didn't say any more
until the Saturday night, when I said 'We're catching the all-night
train tonight; we have to go to the station. There's a taxi waiting
for us' - the train left at about 1.30 in the morning. He said 'I
have a little parcel for you to take home to your mum' - it was 1
lb of butter and 1 lb of bacon for each of us!
When I arrived home with the parcel, I said 'Oh, I have a present for you Mam. Here it is.' She opened it and said 'Where have you got this from? That's rationed! How have you got that?' So I told her the tale and said 'It's quite all right, you've no need to worry. He supplied us with our supper every single night while we were there and he's fed all these people in Plymouth because they've had a terrible time, a very rough time, and he's still doing it now. He said that it was a present for you. So that's where it's come from.'