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About My Book

Introduction of The Price of Wisdom

My story takes you back to my birth in a bombed-out London to grandparenthood in the new millennium.
My mothers fireside stories took me back to my grandparents courtship in the 1900s, which included some of the events of world war one.
When I came back from the country in 1943, story telling was a way to past the time. We didn’t have television them days, but the wireless was a great comfort to our family. The BBC put on programmes that made us laugh. One of which was ITMA (It’s that man again) starring Tommy Hanley. It was full of humour and sketches, making fun of everyone involved in the war. It was so good for the spirit of the nation. When anyone started to moan, we’d say; “don’t you know there’s a war on”
Living in London I experienced the London bombing, the blackouts, the rationing and shortages.

Kate.

 

THE PRICE OF WISDOM
By Kate Townsend

 

INTRODUCTION

Kate’s mission in life was to heal her broken heart. She prayed for the wisdom to help her make sense of it all.
 Little did she know that to acquire wisdom; you need first to experience being unwise?  Just as you cannot know the meaning of light; until you experienced the dark. 
Everything has its opposite like love and hate. How can one choose what they want in life; until one knows what they don’t want? The two has to be together to be able to decide.
Here is a proverb I like to tell:
The young boy said to the old wise man
“Please tell me old man, how do you acquire wisdom?”
 “Come with me to the river bank and I will show you” said the old man.
 The boy followed the old wise man to the riverbank and when he got there, the old wise man said:
“Kneel down and look into the river”
The boy did what he said and knelt down to look into the river.
The old wise man put his hand on his head and pushed the boys head under the water. He held it down in the water for a few moments then let him go. The boy gasped for air and said: 
”Why did you do that?” the old wise man said:
“When you are gasping for wisdom, as you are now gasping for air, is when you will acquire it.”
All the hardships and tribulation Kate endured became the source of wisdom and strength that arose from her experiences.
 It was as if a trap door opened when Kate reached her rock bottom in life.
 

1

 
It was the beginning of the war when I was born. Not a good time, as everyone was worried about what was going to happen with Germany. It was a very uneasy time in the world. Britain was facing the danger of invasion and occupation.
 After the London blitz, I was evacuated to the country with my mother, my sister Rosy and Brother Billy, for the first three years of my life. I stayed in a cottage; ’Rose Cottage’ in a little country village named Bottesford, in Leicestershire. 
      The country life for us kids was a good thing. We loved the open countryside, where we were free to grow and play safely. Did I say safely?
       I was trailing behind my family as we were walking across the fields of the farmland one day, when suddenly my mother shouted, ‘Run, Kate, run!’
       I looked over my shoulder and there was this great big animal with its head low and angry eyes that were gazing at me. I heard my mother’s voice again. ‘Run, Kate!’
       My mother and my siblings were on the other side of the fence beckoning me to run towards them. I was petrified and started to run with all the strength that a three-year-old could muster up. I darted under that fence like a bullet. The bull was close behind me.
      ‘It must have been your red skirt, Kate, that he was after!’ my mother said with a chuckle. I couldn’t see the funny side of it.
       This was one of my earliest memories as a child: being chased by a bull, would you believe it!
         It was January 1943, when my mother decided to come home. She was fed up with the quite life and missed her family in London.
         We were a close family. There was my grandmother, Jane, Known as Jancy (she was ‘Nanny’ to me). Then came Freddie, Mum’s brother: Lou was the eldest sister.
 My mother, Hettie, was next in line; she was called ‘Et’ for short. Beth came next, then May; she was the youngest.
We stayed with Aunt Lou until my mother found a place of our own to live.
 I was coming up to four year’s old and could remembered clearly the day when my mother found the house that we lived in for many year’s that followed.
 The weather was very cold, it had been snowing. My mother walked the streets for days.  Her feet were freezing. The snow got through her worn shoes and her toes were numb with the cold. Stamping her feet to keep the circulation working and blowing into her cold hands, she saw the ‘To Let’ sign.
At last, she found a two-bed flat, upstairs in a terraced house not far from where my nanny lived. 
‘I’ve got some rooms mum’
‘Oh, that’s good Et, where about?’  Nanny said.
 ‘Thorpedale Road’
‘Where’s that?’
 ‘It’s about fifteen minutes walk away.’
  My mother was relieved to have her own home at last. It was a bit tight at Aunt Lou house; she had two boys’ of her own to cope with.
 ‘How yer gonner get yer furniture over there, Et?’ Freddie said.
‘Der’no, Fred, wan’er give us a hand?’
‘How much yer got?’
‘Couple beds, arm chair, wardrobe, yer know, bits and pieces.’
‘Well, alright then, I’ll ask me mate if I can borrow his wheelbarrow. When der yer wan’a move?’
  ‘As soon as yer can Fred, tomorrow if it ain’t snowing.’
  Freddie turned up at Aunt Lou house at ten o’clock the next morning, He brought Harry with him. He was married to Aunt Beth – Uncle Harry, so to speak.
      The day was bright and cold, it wasn’t snowing thank god, but there was a bit of snow on the ground fortunately, it wasn’t freezing, just slouchy and wet.
  Rosy helped out by loading up my old pram. She was coming up to twelve and Billy my brother was nine.
  ‘C’mon, Et, push it! It’ll keep yer fit.’ Freddie said jokingly.
‘Yer look like the old iron man Fred.’
‘Yeah, any old iron. He called out, ‘Any old iron!’ raising his voice.
‘Hush your showing me up!’ my mother said, giving him a friendly clip round his ear with her headscarf. The ladies wore scarves around their head those days, or they made a turban out of it with a couple of curlers sticking out the front. I can remember my mother with her scarf tied and up wearing an apron over her forties style dress.
  Fred was fun-loving, just like his father was, and being an ex newspaper boy, he knew how to call out and be heard.
 ‘Got plenty of old iron’ ere, cheap as chip!’
‘Hush! Freddie! Don’t mess about,’ my mother said, but couldn’t help laughing and expressing her feeling. “Yer remind me of yer dad, Fred!’
He gave her an affectionate smiled and said, ‘Well, let’s get yer sorted, cock, so we can get the kids settled.’
  For the last haul, I was in the old pram with a blanket wrapped around me with our gas mask‘s piled on top.
‘Mum, I’m freezing,’ Rosy said.
‘So am I,’ Billy complained.
‘Won’t be long now, I’ll light a nice fire when we get settled.’
Aunt Lou lived in Archway, which was about two miles away. It took all day, back and forth to move our furniture from her house to ours.
‘Blimey Et, that was hard work! Ave yer got any milk? I fancy a nice cupper Rosie Lee’
 ‘Thanks Fred, and you too Harry, I don’t know what I
would ‘ave done wivout yer.’  my mother said as she put the kettle on the old gas stove.
    At last, we settle down in our new home, everyone was exhausted.
    My mother was missing my father who was still overseas serving in the army.
It was amazing how hardly anyone during the war gave in to the hardships that the war brought.
     The spirit of the community brought out the best in us all.  The good humour manifested itself by saying. ‘Don’t you know there’s a war on’ People just got on with it. All the dangers and many shortages, the rationing and the dreadful black outs, it all became a way of life. Strangely enough, it brought the community closer together we were like one big family out to help one another on a daily basis.
    It took some weeks to settle down. I hated London, the houses were so close together and the school building was old and big. When I looked up, the moving clouds in the sky gave me the feeling that the school building was going to fall down on top of me.
  ‘Turn the wireless on mum; I fink the children’s hour’s on now.’ Billy said.
    The programme, Just William and Arthur Askey, were our favourites. I was too young at that time to know what it was all about. You could say: I was a bit of a pain in the arse to my siblings.
    The wireless was a lifesaver. The BBC had a station that became very important for the moral of the people such as: Children’s Hour, Woman’s Hour, Force’s favourites and Music while you work.  But the most popular programme of all was ITMA (It’s That Man Again) Starring Tommy Hanley.  It was full of humour and sketches, making fun of everyone involved in the war. It was so good for the spirit of the nation. The wireless was a great comfort to my mother and us kids.
     Sometimes my mother told stories about her childhood days. Rosy and Billy often encouraged her to tell us a story. It was one of my dearest memories as a child. I was very young, but could remember her stories forever.
Her mind was always running away with her, some stories were true; some she made up. The way she told them was magical, her lovely green eyes shined. She enchanted the listener’s into her world of imagination.
    I’d sit by the fire-side, watching the flickering flames and was fascinated with the colours and shapes of the fire burning, wondering what life was all about. I wasn’t aware of what path my life was going to take then, being only four years old.  I was a bit confused. One minute I was in the country where there was open space and green fields. We lived near a farm that had cows and sheep in the fields – not forgetting the Bulls. There was a dog and a cat that I played with. Then suddenly here I was back in a small room with nowhere to play.
 ‘Want some toast Kate?’ 
“Mmm, please, mum.’
 She got out the long fork from the kitchen draw, stuck the bread on the end, and then held it in front of the open fire, being careful not to burn her hand. Sometimes the bread fell off the fork. But that didn’t matter, she’d dust the ash off, then spread on the rationed butter and offered it to me.
‘Ere y’ are, Kate. Be careful it’s hot.’
‘Thanks mum’
   We tucked in to the ashy tasting toast, waiting for our mother to start her story. Rosy and Billy sat with anticipation, tucking into their toast and cocoa made from water.
    No matter how many times my mother told the same old stories, we never got tired of listening.
  ‘Now, are you comfortable?’
‘Mmm,’ I said. wiping my hands and mouth with the teacloth.
‘Good, then I will begin,’ said my mum.
‘Once upon a time there was a man named Alfie…..’