“Tidings of Comfort and Joy” (2)

A bit of a gap I know. Sorry but I have been busy with other things.

My mother and I wandered the streets of Central London. It was freezing. Eventually we lay down on Waterloo Bridge. My mother was crying. I wanted to do something to protect and nurture her, and was angry with myself that I could not.  I felt responsible for her. We literally only had the clothes that we had on. No other possessions.

At some point a police car stopped by us. I remember that there was a policeman and a nice police woman. They took us to the police station. We were interviewed separately. Then they took us to a reception hostel.

It was somewhere in South London:  a grim monolithic building.  Everyone there was asleep. The Matron wanted to put me in the men’s dormitory but my mother protested. The Matron said that those were the rules. My mother had half a crown on her and gave it to the Matron who accepted it and let me sleep in the same bunk bed as my mother.  We were on the top.

I now realise that my mother did not want me to sleep in the men’s dormitory in case I was abused. At the time I knew nothing of such things but I was pleased that I was sleeping in the same bed as my mum.

In the morning we got up with everyone else and went down to the canteen.

There seemed to be hundreds of people there. You had to serve yourself. We sat at bleak formica tables on plastic chairs. I was delighted. There was plenty of hot food, cereals et cetera and an unending supply of tea.

My mother, however, was in a daze.  She just sat next to me, staring blankly, not eating or drinking.  I had no idea what would happen next.

(To be continued…)

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