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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 2, June 2014


Ken Jones
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales

Joseph Jones & Son: Painters & Decorators

from the Somme
his crooked wrist

For this small boy, as together we washed the dishes, father was my window on the world. But he was a man of few words, especially about things that mattered most. The Great War—his four brothers were all killed within hours at the battle of the Somme. Poised to hurl a Mills bomb, he got that bullet through his wrist.

My anxious mother, struggling to rise into the middle class, never forgave him for that. It prevented him from driving the Baby Austin which was her longed for status symbol. It took no less than a Second World War to bring them for a time together.

Incendiary bomb
spluttering on the marital bed
she worked the stirrup pump
and he put out the fire

Together dad and I watched Liverpool ablaze from end to end, as shrapnel pinged off our raised dustbin lids. It was in the Anderson shelter dug into our back garden that he taught me chess.

Mrs Next Door killed
bishops and knights swept clean

He was a most kind and patient man; (he even managed to rescue her blackened canary). When I was sixteen, he retrieved me from Paris without demur, penniless and on my way to join the Foreign Legion.

From time to time dad would disappear to London on “business trips”. When I was a student he mysteriously obtained a flat for me in a grand Kensington house. Said he was “a friend” of the landlady, a Mrs Featherstonehaugh. It turned out she was the madam of what was a very high class brothel . . . I viewed Dad with new eyes after that.

Sadly we never got closer as I’d hoped, for shortly afterwards he met a random death at a London street crossing. His hair was still brown—like mine today.

That crooked wrist
those crooked memories
my well-loved stranger



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