Jane is attacked and runs for home.
Sunday passed uneventfully. Ray went for his monthly visit to his parents and Kevin's Sundays always followed the same pattern; lie in, pub with the boys, dinner, afternoon nap, pub with the boys again, and then to bed drunk with little chance of any amorous adventures. The girls had most of the day to themselves and most of the evening at the Bingo Hall.
After the breakfast rush at the café on Monday morning, Carol opened her purse and took out half a crown. "Can you pop down to Barton's, Jane, and get another two dozen rolls." Jane took the money, but her eyes were on an old worn photograph of a baby girl in the pocket of Carol's purse. Carol saw her looking and turned her purse so she could get a better look. "Pretty, isn't she?"
"Very pretty." Jane smiled. "Is she your daughter?"
"No, that's my baby sister. She was a lovely kid."
"Was!" Jane said.
"She died. I was playing with her before I went to school, but when I came home she wasn't there. It was so sudden, she had been rushed to hospital and died. It was the worst day of my life. I cried for weeks."
"I'm sorry, Carol, me and my big mouth."
"It's all right, love. It was a long time ago." Carol closed her purse. "No, I've no children. I had a miscarriage eight years ago now. The father was actually pleased. We were about to be married and it sort of, well, gave him his freedom back I suppose. Works both ways though. When I found out what a selfish, uncaring bugger he was, I lost interest in him as well. Never bothered to get serious again and all my relationships now are strictly casual. I've got my cafe, that's my baby. Well, that's enough of my waffling. You'd better get off to the bakers before the rush starts again.
* * * * *
Terry Mansfield set off on one of his adventures with his friend Brian. The two boys had been friends for as long as they could remember, and wherever one was seen the other was sure to be not far away. They knew the streets in their area of the East End well, and though they were often getting into mischief, they prided themselves in the fact that they had always managed to evade capture from anyone that pursued them.
"Have you still got them four stink bombs?" Brian asked.
"No, only two left." Terry said.
"Carol had a go at me last week for leaning on her window. Let's go and leave her one in the cafe. On the way we can look down Tench Street; see if that lorry is parked there."
The boys were soon at Tench Street and pleased to see the lorry parked in its usual place.
"I hope it's not bananas again. We've still got four bunches dossed up over at the bottle washers." Terry kept look out while Brian went to the rear of the lorry and forced up the tarpaulin sheet. "Oranges, it's full of oranges. Bloody big ones an'all." There was a large crack as he snapped one of the wooden crates. The boys did up their jackets, tucked them in their jeans and then filled them with Jaffa's before casually walking off.
"We'd best doss these at the bottle washers," Terry said. "My ole man will have a fit if I go home with a dozen oranges in me coat."
They arrived at the bottle washers, climbed over the wall and made their way through some bushes to an old disused railway toilet block and climbed into their hideout in the roof space. Brian looked at his watch. "The men will be at dinner over at the pub. We might as well have a quick look an' see if we can find some lemonade bottles." Occasionally they would find some deposit bottles amongst the wine bottles, but they were rare and usually kept inside the building. They walked from the bushes into the yard and searched about for a while. "They're all crap," Brian said.
Terry spotted a wooden crate by the building and dashed over to it. "Tizer bottles, a dozen Tizer bottles," he shouted. They took the crate to the wall and Terry passed it down to Brian and they set of to the corner off-licence near where Terry lived. There was a loud single ring as they opened the off-licence door and they walked in and put the crate on the counter.
The man walked from the back room and looked at the bottles, but he knew the boys well and showed no sign of surprise. "Hello boys, been over the wall again?"
"No, we like Tizer, don't we Tel,"
"Yeah, we drink it all the time and we've been saving up all the bottles."
The man laughed, but gave them the deposit money and the boys left with a jingle of change in their pockets.
"Let's go and sort Carol out then," Brian said.
"Nah, she's all right Carol."
"Well she didn't have a go at you did she. Give us the stink bombs if you don't want to do it." Terry shook his head, but handed over the bombs and they headed for Carol's Cafe.
As they were heading towards the cafe Jane was leaving for the bakers. "Cor, look at the Bristol's on her," Terry said. "I wouldn't mind tittin' her up."
"Gis a bit," Brian said, as they walked past.
"A bit. A bit of what?" Jane replied.
The boys laughed between themselves as they walked off leaving Jane to wonder what they were talking about.
"She was bloody beautiful," Terry said. "I wouldn't mind going with a girl like her." He turned to look at her as she walked off. "And just look at them legs."
"Leave off, Terry, you wouldn't know what to do with her."
"And you would I suppose."
"Yeah, if you remember right, I took Janice round the back of Bromley Hall last Thursday."
"Yeah, so what happened then?"
"We had a bit of a snog and I titted her up."
"You titted her up," Terry said. "She let you?"
"Yeah, I always tit 'em up. Don't you?"
"Course I do, most of the time. So when are you going to see her again?"
"I'll probably go round her house next week, and we'll go to bed and do it."
"You've done it before then?"
"Course I have. Loads of times."
"What's it like then, what do you do?"
"Well, if you don't know, then it's not for me to tell you. You'll have to find out for yourself."
"I will," Terry said. "And probably before you, you bullshitter. But it won't be with a tart like Janice, it'll be with someone like that girl who just left the cafe. A bit of class."
"You can dream, Terry, do you really think she'll go out with a school boy? Come on let's go in the cafe. You order an orange and when she turns to get it I drop the bomb and crush it and then we'll have to leg it on the quick or she'll clout us."
"Where shall we go after then?"
"We'll go down Three Mill Lane. See what's in the barges."
* * * * *
Saturday night soon came around again and Jane and her three companions arrived once more at The Guildford Arms. Ray had been a regular caller at Rose's flat since his date with Jane and they had become close and friendly towards each other. He was a good dancer and he jived with Jane in the area in front of the band, with continual smiles beaming across both their faces. She was more settled and at ease than she had been the previous week and she put a lot more effort into her dancing, surprising her friends that she could dance so well. The crowd had cleared the floor for their dance and Jane felt joyful and proud as everyone in the bar clapped when they left the floor. Kevin had bought the drinks and an unfamiliar drink was on the table waiting for her. "What's that?" she said. "I wanted a port and lemon."
"We've all gone onto spirits," Kevin said. "Rose said you liked Babycham, so we got you a Brandy and Babycham."
"Brandy and Babycham!" She looked at Rose's glass. "What's that then?"
"Rum and blackcurrant," Rose said. "Would you rather have one of these?"
Jane pulled a face and shook her head. She sat down, picked up her glass and took a mouthful of the potent drink, causing her to wince and screw her face.
A middle-aged couple got on the stage to sing, "Who's Sorry Now." Jane was a fan of Connie Francis and it was one of her favourite songs. She persuaded her three friends to get up and have a dance.
The small dance floor was crowded for the slow dance, but they managed to squeeze in and she laid her head on Ray's shoulder with her arms resting around his neck. She could feel his arms around her back and she felt comfortable with him at first, but after a while his hands slipped down to her bottom. She moved his hands back up, but he laughed before sliding them back down again, gripping hold of her and gyrating his pelvis against her. She felt her dress riding up and pulled his hands off her before pushing him away. She walked back to their table with Ray following not far behind her and she sat at the table giving him a hostile stare.
"Jane, I'm so sorry. It was just meant to be a bit of fun, a laugh. I never dreamed you would take it the wrong way."
"So what was the right way then?" she said, still not smiling.
"Like I said, I was only fooling. I just forgot you were so young and thought you were high-spirited like us, but I know now that I was wrong to assume that." He smiled at her. "Are we still friends?"
She returned his smile and accepted his apology, feeling as if she had maybe acted a bit immature. "Of course we are. I'm just not used to that sort of thing on the dance floor."
"It won't happen again. Come on, let's have another dance, best behaviour."
"No, I honestly don't want to dance. To tell the truth I'm a bit tired and I could do with a sit down."
"Okay, if you're sure there's no offence, like I said…"
"There's no problem, I'm just tired." She smiled at him again and despite her feeling that she might have overreacted, she was slightly distressed by the incident and didn't want another dance with him.
They had a few more drinks before the last bell sounded. Jane looked at her watch thinking it was time to go and she was surprised when the landlord bolted the doors allowing them to continue drinking after time. Another hour passed and she was becoming drunk. She stood up to have a dance with Kevin and felt as if the bar was swaying a little. She felt giddy, but it was a slow dance and Kevin held onto her. Her mind began to wander and she began thinking of things she would never usually dream of. She thought of the noises from Rose and Kevin's bedroom and tried to picture what they were doing. She knew that she had strong feelings towards Kevin. She liked him a lot and wondered how it would feel to be the one making love with him. She suddenly felt as if she were too close to him, and as if her breasts were pressing into his chest. She looked over to Rose worried in case she was jealous, but Rose and Ray were looking back at her and laughing about something, so she thought it must be all right. She grinned and waved across to them and was puzzled that it seemed to make them laugh even more.
The dance finished and Kevin helped Jane as she staggered back to her seat. It was well after midnight when they left the bar and Jane began to sway as she walked out into the fresh night air. Kevin grabbed her as she was about to fall and she collapsed into his arms. Rose was laughing as the two men held Jane's arms over their shoulders and began walking the drunken girl along the pavement.
They got home and the two men struggled to get Jane up the stairs. They took her into her room and laid her down on the mattress where she fell asleep almost as soon as she had settled. "Blow me, she's out cold," Kevin said.
"You'll have to help me to get her out of my dress, Kevin. If she sleeps in it, it'll be ruined by the morning."
"Oh no, that's all I need on a Saturday night, undressing a pretty young girl."
A huge grin beamed across Ray's face. "I'll give you a hand."
"Oh no you won't, you go and put the kettle on."
"Spoilsport." Ray walked over to fill the kettle while Kevin helped Rose to remove the dress, leaving Jane lying on the mattress in her underwear.
Ray chatted with his friends in the living room for a while, but his hosts were eager to get to bed and they said goodnight, leaving Ray to finish his coffee. He sat smoking a cigarette and looking over to Jane's partly open door. He could see her lying on her side on the mattress exactly as they had left her. Although Rose's bedroom door was closed, he could clearly hear them making love. As he listened to the noises coming from the main bedroom, he put his cigarette out, walked into Jane's room, and carefully moved her over onto her back. She stirred and he waited until she drifted back to sleep before continuing with his evil deed. Her briefs were loose fitting and he easily moved them to the side as he unbuttoned his trousers.
The pain brought Jane out of her drunken sleep and she managed to scream out for Rose before Ray covered her mouth with his hand, but Rose was engrossed with her own noises
* * * * *
After the attack, Ray tried to talk to Jane, but she wouldn't answer him. She just lay curled up with tears running down her face, remaining silent and still, afraid that if she moved or made a sound he might attack her again. It seemed like forever before he got up and left, but still she didn't move until she heard him moving about in the flat upstairs.
She put on her dressing gown and went down to the bathroom. She started to run the bath and took off her gown, but she dropped onto her knees with her head over the toilet and was violently sick into the pan, continuing to retch long after she had emptied her stomach.
She got into the bath and began scrubbing herself repeatedly, but though she had scrubbed herself thoroughly she couldn't lose the smell of Ray's aftershave and it seemed to linger in her nostrils as if he were in the room.
She put on her gown and walked over to the bathroom door, but stopped as she took hold of the handle. She thought she heard a noise out in the hall and stood for a while listening, but all was silent. The door seemed to creak more than usual as she slowly opened it. She was frightened and before she stepped out of the bathroom she looked about in the shadows for any sign of movement. Her own movements were slow as she made her way to the foot of the stairs. A sudden creak came from one of the downstairs rooms. She panicked and began to run up the stairs thinking that Ray had been waiting down there, waiting for her, wanting to violate her again. Her heart was pounding as she continued up the stairs believing that someone was behind her, but she was too terrified to turn and look. She ran across the landing and into the flat hastily bolting the door behind her before hurrying to her bedroom.
She dropped the bed sheets into the washing basket and then got dressed before lying on the mattress and pulling one of the blankets over herself. Tears formed in her eyes again and trickled slowly down her face as she laid waiting for sleep to come and relieve her fear and distress, but sleep didn't come easy.
* * * * *
Jane woke up just before midday and looked at her watch. She never slept this late even on the mornings after the Saturday night dances back home. Even so, it took a bit of effort to get up from the mattress. She felt the need to tidy herself up before she left the room, but the pains in her groin, her stomach, and her head, hampered her as she struggled to walk over to the small mirror on the windowsill. She was startled by her reflection, looking dishevelled, ghoul-like almost. She did her best with her brush and a few tissues to freshen herself before heading for the door.
Rose was sitting at the table drinking coffee and she looked over and grinned at Jane as she walked unsteadily from her room. "Cor you look a mess, Jane. You and Ray must have had a right good ole session last night; you were making more noise than me and Kev."
"How could you bloody well let him do that to me? How could you, Rose?" Tears trickled down Jane's face as she spoke, more from her frustrated anger than from distress.
"Oh don't cry, love." Rose stood up and tried to put her arms around Jane, but Jane pushed her away. "Come on now, Jane, this is the sixties not the twenties. You're eighteen years old. You've got to live a bit. Anyway, I thought you liked Ray."
"I'm not eighteen, Rose," she shouted. "And whether I like him or not he had no right to do that, no bloody right at all. Why did you let him, Rose? Why?"
"I'm sorry, Jane, I thought you two were right for each other. Look, do yourself a coffee and I'll go up to the pub and fetch the boys back. We'll get a few bottles and have a good ole sort out."
"I don't want to see him, Rose."
"Don't be silly, he's a nice bloke and he's got a lovely pad upstairs going to waste. If you move upstairs with him things'll be great. You'll be set up."
"Set up, set up. Rose, I don't ever want to see that monster again."
"Look, love, just have a think about it. I was talking to Ray in the pub and he really likes you." Rose picked her coat up from the back of a chair. "I won't be long and then we'll all get together and sort it out."
Jane stood watching Rose leave and felt appalled that her friend thought it such a trivial matter. She remained quiet and still for a few moments, gazing blankly across the room, until she heard the front door bang shut. She wanted to freshen up, but she had no wish to go down to the bathroom. There was no more hot water in the kettle and she didn't want to wait for the kettle to boil again. She wanted to be out of the house before the others returned. She quickly washed her face from the cold-water tap before stuffing her things into her case and hurrying from the flat.
She rushed up the road to the cafe, knowing that Carol would be there. Sunday was her odd job day and she had told Jane that she always spent it cleaning and maintaining the cafe. Jane had offered to help her, but Carol told her the cook would usually call in to give her a hand and Jane was not fond of the cook.
Carol lived with her mother not far from the cafe. She had told Jane they had a spare room that she could move into if she had any problems. Jane dearly wished she had taken up the offer earlier. Although Carol was a lot older than she was, Jane thought that they seemed to get on well and Carol was now the only friend that she had in the world. She knew there was something special about Carol. Jane had only been there for just over a week, but there was closeness between them that she couldn't quite explain.
The closed sign was on the window, but she saw Carol's coat on the hook and could hear the radio playing. She opened the door and walked in, putting her case on one of the tables. There were noises coming from the kitchen and she walked through, unprepared for the sight that confronted her. Carol was leaning against the wall engaged in sexual intercourse with the cook. Jane stood and stared as if frozen to the spot with her eyebrows raised and her mouth open.
The cook looked at her and grinned, but looked away and carried on as if he were further excited by her appearance.
Carol reacted differently when she noticed Jane at the kitchen door and she yelled angrily at her, "get out, get out," and shoved the cook away while adjusting her clothing.
Jane turned and ran back through the cafe grabbing her case as she went past the table. Her case was banging on her legs as she struggled to run along the pavement. All she wanted now was to be back home with her family and friends. She began to regret leaving home and longed to be back in the comfort and relative safety of her own room. She hurried along to the Underground station and caught a train to Victoria and then a coach to Bedford and home.
Jane walked up to her house and stood at the door hoping that it wouldn't be her mother that answered the doorbell, but it was. To her surprise, her mother showed signs of obvious relief and she threw her arms around Jane as she welcomed her back home. Her family made a fuss of her, but within days, the relief of her safe return was replaced by resentment that she had sneaked off and left home in the first place. Her father returned to being indifferent and her mother to being hostile.
The weeks flowed past and although she was showing all the signs, it still took a while for Jane to admit it to herself that she was pregnant. She received confirmation from her doctor, but she was frightened to tell her mother and kept the worry and despair to herself for a few more weeks. She was waiting for her mother to be in one of her better moods before telling her, hoping she would help and support her, but fearing she may not.
"Your dad's thinking about getting a car. That lot at number twelve have got two cars now. Goodness knows why they want two cars. Just bloody showing off."
"He'll have to apply for his test then?"
"He used to drive during the war. Thinks he still can claim a licence from the army."
"That'll be great. We can all go for days out."
"Yes, to the seaside. We haven't had a family trip to the seaside for ages, have we?"
"Maybe Dad will win me another teddy bear, like he did before."
"That was years ago. Surprised that you can remember that far back."
"Well I still have the teddy, don't I? So that keeps reminding me."
The woman gave Jane one of her few affectionate smiles. "We did have some good times then."
Jane returned the smile to her mother. This seemed as good a time as she would get. "Mum, I need to talk to you. I know you'll probably be angry, but if you hear me out, you'll see it wasn't really my fault." The smile had already left her mother's face. Jane looked at her and found it hard to continue, wishing she had kept quiet.
"Well come on then, girl, out with it."
"I've been to see Doctor McKay. Mum, I'm pregnant, but..."
"What! Oh no, I don't believe it. How the hell could you do this to us?"
"Mum, I was..."
"Save it, I don't want to hear all the filthy details thank you very much. What's the neighbours going to say, have you thought of that?" The woman's face was scarlet with rage and the veins in her neck were pulsating with blood.
"Mum, please, please let me explain."
"Shut up, shut up," she screamed. She made a fist and banged the side of her hand on the table. "I knew it, going off to London with your tail up like a bitch on heat. I knew what you were after. How the hell could you do this after all we've done for you? Get out. Get up to your room and out of my sight you filthy, little trollop."
Jane became fearful of her mother and thought it best to do as she was told before her mother started hitting her. She hurried from the room and up the stairs, but her mother followed her screaming more insults and calling her all sorts of unsavoury names. Jane dropped onto her bed looking up at her mother, frightened to say anything in her defence and worried that if she did her mother would lose what little control she had and would probably lay into her. However, her mother kept on with the abuse, getting wilder all the time and then Jane made the mistake. "Mum, please, will you just listen to me," was all she got out before her mother started belting the side of Jane's face with the back of her hand. Jane took three blows before dropping onto her pillow with her arms up, shielding her head from further blows. To her relief the woman stormed back out of the room and clumped down the stairs.
The matter was rarely mentioned again, as if they never had the conversation. When it was, it always ended the same with Jane hurrying to the refuge of her bedroom and her mother remaining downstairs, if she were lucky. When Jane's tummy started to show clear signs of her pregnancy, she found herself suddenly packed off to a hostel in Margate. She had very little money and spent most of her time sitting out on a large balcony overlooking the sea. After a while the seagulls began to annoy her. They sometimes seemed to be swooping down and screaming at her. At first she dismissed it, but it began to play on her mind. They would often be there launching a seemingly endless tirade of abuse at her, as if they were servants of her adoptive mother. She knew she was being silly, but she began to take a dislike to the gulls and eventually stopped going onto the balcony.
Early one evening she was sitting in the lounge when she felt the pains as her contractions increased and she knew that her time was close. She used to be terrified at the thought of childbirth, but now she just wanted to get it over. Holding her stomach and with her eyes half closed, she called out for help.
Jane gave birth to a fine baby boy whom she had to tend, feed, and nurse for six weeks. She became close and bonded with the child before he was taken from her leaving her to cry in her loneliness.
She returned home feeling sad and guilty, and not because she'd had a baby, but because she had given him up and left without him. Her parents seemed to behave as if nothing had happened and they expected her to act the same, and even her sister, though sympathetic, had no idea of the despair that Jane was feeling. Many nights she cried herself to sleep, thinking of her little boy and wondering where he was and who had adopted him; hoping that he would be loved more than she had been.
Jane was working back at the factory and she returned home one evening wondering what her mother would pull her up about that night. There was nearly always something, no matter how trivial she had to chastise her about something almost every day.
After her tea, she had a bath and then sat in her dressing gown watching the television for a while, but her mind was troubled with thoughts of her baby and she could find no interest in the television programmes. She went up to her room and turned her transistor radio on low volume and then lay on her bed thinking of her little boy, and wondering when the emptiness she felt would start to ease. Her left hand was rubbing her aching breasts while her right hand was resting on her briefs moving gently back and forth, doing nothing more than comforting herself as she slowly started to drift towards sleep. Jane's door was partly open and she was unaware that her mother was looking in at her.
"And what do you think you're doing?"
Jane was startled and quickly moved her hands and she sat up looking at her mother. "Nothing, I'm just trying to get to sleep."
"Nothing, nothing," she said. "I know exactly what you were doing you filthy bitch. I've had enough of you." She picked up the transistor radio and Jane feared that she was going to throw it at her, but she threw it on the floor, bursting the casing and scattering the batteries before storming from the room and slamming the door behind her.
Jane returned from work the following evening hoping that her mother wouldn't mention the previous night. She was thinking of going down to enrol in the dance studio again and thinking it would surely please her parents as she remembered how proud they had been of her achievements there. Her mother was busy preparing the dinner when Jane walked across the kitchen and filled the kettle. "Do you want a drink, Mum?" she asked, but her mother declined.
"I've booked you an interview at the careers office. You've got to be there at two o'clock on Friday."
"What careers office?"
"The WRAF, you're going to join the WRAF."
"I don't want to join the air force." She stared at her mother. "Don't you think we should talk about this, Mum?" The woman returned a harsh stare, but she didn't answer. "I'll do my best to please you, Mum. Please give me another chance. Please don't send me away again." It was an emotional plea from a frightened girl, but it was ignored.
"You're going in the WRAF whether you like it or not. I don't want my Gwen corrupted. I don't want a whore in the same house as my daughter."
Jane took a short, but deep breath, as if the remark had winded her. She was devastated and looked at her mother wide-eyed, but the woman was looking away. She walked up the stairs and sat on her bed for a while, stunned, wondering what she had ever done to make the woman hate her so much. She tried to be strong, she was not a child she was a young woman and had to try to cope, but she was overwhelmed with despair and distress, and wondering what was to become of her.