Hello Mum. ( Letters Part 2)


The final two letters in this story. The first from the Daughter and the reply is a bit of a surprise.


Hello Mum,

Hope you’re well. Just a quick note to let you know that Stevie got his car. It wasn’t the one he had his eye on, that turned out to be too expensive, but he’s really pleased with this one. It’s made him realise now just how things cost, insurance, MOT, petrol etc, but I know you’ll help out from time to time. He does so love his Nan and Grandad.

Saw you in Asda on Monday, you and Dad were at the checkout putting your shopping in the trolley. I was going to come over and say hello but I had pilates booked and was already running late. Besides, you looked as though you were having a bit of a row, hope everything’s okay?

Got to cancel Sunday lunch unfortunately. This week has been manic.What with Pilates, Yoga and now Tennis lessons, I just haven’t had the time to do any housework. I know we have young Katia from Poland in for a few days a week to help out, but I seem to be exhausted. Us woman heh? Always on the go. The men don’t know they’re born do they?

Speaking of men, Brian’s got a promotion at work. He’s now Sales Director ( or something like that) for Europe. It means he’ll be away quite a lot, so the time we can all spend together as a family is going to be even more important now. But god knows how we’re going to afford a proper holiday this year. We’ve seen a fabulous apartment in Barbados that we could rent for a fortnight but not sure we’ll have the funds available. Don’t suppose you could have a word with Dad for me…please.

If we could add it on to the money we owe you for the kitchen extension then we could sort out some kind of repayment plan.

Love you mum.


P.S. Stevie may pop round tommorow to show off his new car. If you could give him a few pounds for petrol etc, that would really help.


The reply…


Hello Joan,

Got your letter this morning, by coincidence I was writing this as the post arrived.

Bad news I’m afraid, Mum had a massive stroke on Monday and has been in Hospital ever since. I’ve tried to call you over the past few days but just get machines, and you know me, I won’t talk to machines.

She’s in a bad way, can’t move or talk. Her eyes are open but there’s a kind of vacant look.To be honest I don’t think she knows who I am or even if I’m there.

Doctors say that she could remain like this for a long time. I’ve been at the Hospital every day to be with her, bit of a nightmare journey, two buses and then I get a cab for the last bit. Because of my dodgey leg I gave up driving some time ago, Mums done all the driving for the past six months.

We saw you in Asda. Mum insisted we go even though she wasn’t feeling all that well. You know what she’s like, didn’t want to turn up for Sunday lunch empty handed. Thought you might have come over and said hello, but Mum said you were probably too busy and in the end we had a bit of a row about it. She had the stroke in Asda car park. Doctors said that it may have been the strain of carrying the heavy bags to the car. I can’t carry a thing these days because of my damn leg.

Anyway, doesn’t matter about Sunday lunch now, although she was looking forward to it so much. She’d been going on and on about it for days. Even made a Trifle, she knows how much Stevie loves her Trifle.

Don’t worry about the money you owe us for the Kitchen, lets call it quits and move on. But as far as anything else is concerned I think all our money now will be going on Mum. She’s going to need round the clock care and these things cost a fortune. But only the best for your Mum. Even if I have to sell the house and all our possesions, I’ve made her a promise that she’ll have the very best.

Call me when you can and I’ll give you the Hospital details. If your not too busy maybe you could pop in and see her.

Goodbye Joan.




Hello Mum ( Letters Part 1)


A story told in four letters. The first two are below. the final two will be tomorrow.

Hello Mum,

Happy Birthday for last month. Sorry I didn’t send a card, but you know what its like, we’re all so very busy. Anyway, happy 70th.

I was going to get you some flowers delivered, but couldn’t remember what ones you liked. I seem to recall you hated Roses or was it Daffodils? Not to worry, I’ll bring some round next time we visit.

Hows Dad? I heard he’d had a fall, something to do with his knee? I’m sure your doting on him hand and foot, making him endless cups of tea like you always do.

I keep meaning to give you a ring but there’s a problem with our phone at home and the mobiles always playing up. Some nonsense about network connection, but you wouldn’t understand all that jargon, so thought i’d send you a nice letter instead. Much better than nattering away on a bloody telephone for hours.

Your Grandson Stevie is 18 next week and wants a new car! They grow up so fast and want the world these days. He just doesn’t seem to understand the value of money that boy. The car he’s seen is seven thousand pounds. Where on earth does he think we’re going to get that kind of money from?

So I was just wondering, as its his 18th, whether you’d like to contribute. He’d really love it!

We can put in a maximum of two thousand and maybe you could put up the rest?

Thanks Mum. You’ve got our Bank details haven’t you.

Anyway, got to fly, got a yoga lesson in half an hour.

Shame you don’t live closer or we’d always be round to see you, but its a good 15 minutes by car, and the new traffic light system by Tesco’s can be a nightmare in rush hour.

Thanks Mum.


The Reply….

Hi Sweetheart,

Got your letter yesterday. I’ve been trying to call you ever since but keep getting the voicemail or answer machine, but then again I do know how busy you are these days.

Don’t worry about the flowers, they were Lillys by the way, they always make me think of funerals.

Dads knees got a lot worse. He now has to use a stick all the time, even around the house. But he’s being brave and keeps saying that you have to expect these things as you get older.

I do wish you and Dad would sort out your differences and get along better. It seems so silly to fall out over money. I know you’ll pay us back what we lent you for the kitchen extension six years ago. I understand these things take time, but you know your Father, he’s always been impatient.

Little Stevie popped over this morning, what a suprise. He’s such a good boy and so handsome, he’s going to break hearts is that one. Can’t beleive he’s 18 next week. He said he is going out with his mates to celebrate on his birthday but wanted me and Dad to come over for Sunday lunch the week after. I said I’d have to run it past you first to just to make sure, as I know how busy you are.

By the way, I spoke to him about the car. You got it wrong, silly. The car he wants is only three thousand pounds. So I remember in your letter you said you were putting two thousand towards it, so I gave him a cheque for a thousand. I made the cheque out in his name so that if he changes his mind he can spend it on what he wants.

Hope that’s okay.

I paid the invoice for your Yoga lessons this morning. I notice there’s an extra charge now for Pillates twice a week. You really are keeping fit!

Love you.

Mum xxxxxxx



The Great Wagon Train Robbery. (Part 2)


We had a problem we hadn’t thought of. There were hundreds of boxes of popcorn and only four of us. Each box contained 48 packets. The boxes weren’t too heavy but they were big and awkward to carry.

“We’ll carry a box each.” Reggie decided.

We were dissapointed to leave a mountain of popcorn behind but we knew it was the right decision.

So we started our trek back to the estate, each carrying a large box of popcorn.

I had mine up on my right shoulder. This was fine for about twenty yards. Then I began to tire. So I changed to the left shoulder. Another twenty yards and I had to stop and swap again. I looked round. Reggie was a few feet behind me, but Dave and Trevor had stopped a long way back.

The system wasn’t working. Reggie shouted out.

“Leave one box. Take turns in carrying the other one.”

Reluctantly they agreed. Me and Reggie waited for them to catch up, remembering our promise. No one gets left behind.

We made it slowly through the boggy marshland and eventually came to a fence that bordered the child killer road. Reggie climbed over first. Dave got on my shoulders and Trevor lifted up the boxes one by one and passed them to Dave. He in turn pushed them over the fence to Reggie. Soon we were all standing on the other side with our three.

Dave asked a question. “If we’ve only got three boxes. How many packets do we get each?”

It was a fair question. Reggie just shrugged his shoulders, maths wasn’t his strong point. Dave and Trevor had no idea, they were both in class “R” which stood for Remedial. I had no idea what it meant but guessed it wasn’t a compliment. I knew my tables and began doing the sums. The easy bit was how many packets we had. Forty eight in each box meant four lots of twelve. Three boxes meant there were twelve lots of twelve. Twelve twelves is one hundred and forty four. After that I was a bit stumped. I guessed.

“About fifty.”

Everyone seemed pleased with the answer.

Crossing the child killer was dangerous enough, but crossing it whilst carrying a large box on your shoulder was going to be tricky. It was a dual carriageway and there was a small grass verge in the middle where we could get a short period of safety. Reggie went first. He ran as quick as he could with the box and made it to the middle. He waited for a few minutes then called me over. I did the same. I made it. Now it was the turn of Trevor and Dave. They’d decided to carry the box together. This meant that Dave would be running backwards and Trevor forwards.

It was carnage. Dave stumbled as he ran backwards and dropped the box. In panic he just turned and ran to us, Trevor left the box and did the same.

The box of popcorn was hit by a lorry at 50 mph. It looked like there was a snow storm in Dagenham…in September.

But there was no time to lose. We had to get on. Everyone had to be in for tea by 5pm at the latest.

We crossed the other side of the A13 with our two remaining boxes intact.

The bomb sites at Goresbrook were really nothing more than waste ground. But bomb sites sounded better. We each took turns in carrying the two boxes. We counted to 100 paces and then swapped. I swapped my box with Trevor and Reggie swapped with Dave.

The next part of the journey would be the most treacherous. The flats at Castle Green had their own gangs who wouldn’t take too kindly to us Barking boys going through their territory. But there was no way round it. We had to be brave.

We walked as quickly as we could and got past the flats. Now just a few narrow streets to navigate and we’d soon be back on the estate. But suddenly Reggie stopped in his tracks.

On the next street corner was a group of six boys. It was the Lodge Avenue Gang. We couldn’t run because we were carrying two large boxes of popcorn. We couldn’t go back because behind us was Castle Green and the child killer. We’d just have to tough it out.

“Keep close.” Reggie commanded.

As we approached, they began to spread out, standing three feet apart. They were bigger and older than us. All from big school. One of them stepped forward and stopped Reggie with his hand.

“What you got there?”


“Where from?”

“German Hill.”

Their leader turned and looked at his boys. They all nodded. Respect.

“We’ll take a box and then you can get going.”

Reggie looked at us for approval. We had no choice. Dave put down his box. The Lodge Avenue Gang parted and we all walked through. It was a heavy price to pay but we’d come through it alive and with respect from the boys in Dagenham.

We got back to Dave’s dads shed at half past four. We were exhausted but euphoric at the same time. The Barking Boys had fulfilled their quest for the popcorn. We opened the box and took six packets each. We’d come back in a few days time for the rest. Reggie said it was best to let the heat to die down.

When I got in for tea Mum saw me before I had chance to hide the popcorn. She put her hands on her hips and gave me “that look”.

“Where’d you get that lot from?”

I had to think quick. No way could I tell her the truth about our raid and who was with me. I was no grass.

“Dave’s dad got it from work. We all got some.”

As quick as a left hook from Henry Cooper she swiped me across the back of the head.

“If I find out you’ve been near that A13 you’ll be for it. It’s a child killer that road is!”