• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 09
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We named her Old Ma Backhouse. Mum said that it was inappropriate as she was a 'widow lady'. Seemed like a witch to me. Carol thought so, too. 'Josie' she'd say 'she scares me when she pops out real quick, flaps her arms and watches us'.
O M Backhouse kept chickens in her back yard, sad, scraggy looking creatures who endlessly pecked in the dirt.

'Don't think she's going to eat them, they're not fat enough' I whispered to my friend.

When we did our running stuff most of our routes ran by her yard, unless we decided to run into town, pounding along in our sneakers, whilst the trams rumbled past. We always tried not to be home late in the night runs. There were no flexible 'in' times. My Dad simply pointed to the clock and the BED word was announced. Same with Carol's Mum, she had an Forces husband, who expected her to keep to a routine as he did when he was on leave.

In the summer holidays we had more time to run and play. We had our favourite places. In third place was the play park, where we met up with our mates, laughed, climbed and sucked sherbet lemons 'til our tongues were sore. Second place went to the heath, where the golfers enjoyed a round or two. Obviously we didn't want to be knocked senseless by a stray golf ball, so we hid in the gorse and ate peanut butter sandwiches.
Our first choice were the fields.



The stiles were straddled, then we jumped into the golden itchy carpet and flattened stalks, where field mice and tiny shrews scampered whilst dusky butterflies flew around. In my mind I can still feel the scorching sun, we got real sore (no Factor Whatever in those times, just calamine lotion dabbed on). One time we had this idea to feed those scraggy chickens and we stuffed my school satchel with handfuls of corn, kernels and grass.
Back at the Ranch, or Backhouse Barracks, we threw the contents over the fence into the dust and our feathered friends swallowed in birdie bliss.
A clamped claw was fixed on my tee shirt, whilst the other gripped Carol by the shoulder.
'What on earth do you tykes think you are doing?' she screeched. 'if I ever see you two hanging around here again I'll have the Law after you!'
A ridiculous threat, but it had the effect.