Love is Blind
This Story is works of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
These stories are copyrighted by Sam Lelliot, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Ted Willis, (Edward to his mum), now 9 years old returned home to a fatherless environment in July 1946 from his evacuation in the Welsh countryside, away from the bombs of London.
During that time, his mum had been bombed out of their home in the east end of London near the docks. A doodlebug did the deed right at the end of the war in Europe, and now she had a brand new 2 bedroomed flat on the newly built St Helier estate in Carshalton Surrey.
Financially, with her war pension and a good job with the Philips Company at Hackbridge, she wasn't poor, nor was she rich. She had travelled to London to meet Ted off the train at Paddington station and found him older, taller and with a slight Welsh tinge to his speech after 3 years away. They hugged fiercely and after looking each other up and down.
Ted Said. "Mum I missed you so much."
"I missed you too Edward, it was a long bad war. I have to tell you now before you ask about him. Daddy was killed on D Day as he arrived on the beach so there is just you and me love." His mother replied.
Tears flowed between them for a few more minutes and then Ted said. "Mum, Please, I want to be known as Ted from now on as that was what dad was called and I have to take his place."
His mother smiled at her growing but still young son, and said. "I don't like the idea too much love but if that is what you want, Ted it will be from now on."
"Thanks mum. I have been called Ted all the time since I went to the Farm in Wales."
They went down the steps underground to the tube hand in hand to go to their new home together.
Some would have said they were fortunate.
No more than 55 miles away on the south coast at Ovendean. The reception at the St Dunstan's institute for blind servicemen was welcoming a new ten man intake.
Among them was Corporal 'Tommie' Thompson, his real Christian name was George but long ago that name had ceased to be used.
Tommie, just two days before he was due to come home from a long tour in Europe, was struck blind by an unexploded bomb, while helping some young German refugees put up some temporary shelter. All his friends had been killed and after a spell in different hospitals he had now transferred to St Dunstan's for training to help him with his blindness and his future.
He was assigned a personal helper/teacher for his first year at the Institute.
The heading 'Institute', was not an acceptable name for St Dunstan's really, as it was more a home, come training unit for blind servicemen.
Tommie's demob had been delayed for a month so that he could get a lot of training to cope with being blind in and get his future life sorted out; hence he was still in uniform.
Still only 21 years old he had survived D Day and the fight through Europe.
Some would have considered him fortunate.
Back home Ted and his mum arrived home. The first thing Ted checked out was his bedroom. It wasn't large but it was big enough for him. He unpacked his few belongings into the small wardrobe and then went down to the kitchen.
He thought it looked a bit odd with a wood burning copper in the corner and a bath with a wooden lid over it between copper and sink.
His mum had made some tea. As virtually everything was still on ration the two boiled eggs his mum put in front of him were a nice treat. Of course it was bread and margarine, not butter. Butter would be a once a week luxury for some time yet.
After tea they adjourned to the front room where his mother put the radio on just in time for 'Dick Barton special agent', a very popular evening program for boys. Mum's favourite was a daily dose of 'Mrs Dales Diary' in the afternoons.
Dick Barton finished at 6PM and Ted yawned long and hard and asked his mother if he could go to bed as he had been up since 5 that morning.
His mum smiled and said. "Of course Ted, you must be exhausted after that long journey."
"Thanks mum, I helped out on the farm with milking before I set off to say 'thank you' to Mr and Mrs Evans for looking after me so well."
"That was kind of you dear, your father would be proud of you, he was always ready to help others."
Ted hugged and kissed his mother and then kissed the picture of his father and went along to his bedroom. He undressed and hung up his clothes, then got into bed. He didn't hear his mother look in on him; he was dead to the world.
Tommie, with the help of his companion James, made his way to dinner and enjoyed the meal put before him. He was starting to find his other senses getting stronger since losing his sight. His hearing was more acute, and his smell and touch much sharper.
After dinner the familiarisation continued with counting off paces and using his white cane to feel for obstructions. Tommie went to bed that night, not in despair, but mostly wondering what his future might be. Like Ted those 55 miles away he was very tired from a long day and was soon asleep.
The next morning he awoke sharp at 6AM and felt his way around his room, had a quick shower, got clean clothes, and dressed.
He found the radio and turned it on to listen to the early morning programme before breakfast. Later feeling bold he attempted to get to the dining room on his own. Doing his best he managed to get to the door of it when James saw him and congratulated him on his effort for doing so well on his first attempt.
Through that day and for another week Tommie and James went around and around the Institute to the point of boredom. Finally after a time Tommie was considered proficient enough to be able to go out with James to the local pub.
It was a little walk of a mile, and holding James's elbow they were soon entering the lounge bar. The first thing Tommie heard was a piano playing some ragtime.
He loved the piano as an instrument and he had begged his parents to let him learn how to play. Which with a lot of sacrifice they had managed to do. Sadly they were no longer of this mortal coil due to a direct hit by a bomb onto their London flat.
Jamie got a couple of pints for them. Tommie took a sip and relished the taste of the bitter beer. The piano player changed into a good selection of jazz numbers.
The player was quite good but he made a lot of mistakes with the tunes playing some of them in the wrong order. Tommie spoke with James and he went up to the piano, caught the player's eye, and spoke to him.
The pianist nodded with a smile. James came back and helped Tommie over to the piano. He sat on the vacant stool, touched for the keys and it all came back in a flash.
He set of playing all the old World War 1 tunes with gusto. At the end of 15 minutes he stopped. The customers broke into loud applause which went on for a couple of minutes. Added to that, two pints appeared as if from nowhere. It was then Tommie sensed a presence next to him.
A hand touched his shoulder and a voice said. "Well played young man. I am the Landlord Chas. That was some playing. How would you like to play for me three nights a week?"
"That would depend on James as he is my companion helper from St Dunstan's."
James was also close by and heard what was said and put his spoke in. "To hear playing like that Tommie I will be most happy to bring you down on those nights if you would like."
Chas then said. "I will send a taxi for you both at seven thirty on Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday. I will pay you £10-00 for the three nights Start at 8PM and finish at
10-30PM. If business picks up I will increase that."
Tommie replied. "Blimey governor I will be rich. Consider that a done deal."
They shook hands on it and Tommie and James returned to their seats. They left the pub at 10PM and Tommie celebrated his new good luck by getting a taxi for James and himself.
Ted had a strange dream that night. He saw a huge crowd clapping and shouting 'More! More! More!' Then he saw himself at a piano playing music he had never heard of. Suddenly instead of music he heard loud banging followed by a voice.
"Come on Ted, time to get up son."
Ted woke with a start, the dream fresh in his mind. He dressed brushed his teeth and went along to the kitchen to hug his mother good morning. He sat down to the toast and marmalade breakfast with his mother. He then told his mother about the dream.
"There might be a reason for that Ted. Before we married your dad played the piano very well. He gave it up when you were born. Would you like to learn how to play? Your Aunt Rose has the piano at the moment but I am sure she never plays it. Shall I ask her to get Uncle Bill to bring it over?"
"Maybe mum it would be better for me to go over to Aunt Rose's place to give it a try first before they go to a lot of trouble."
"OK love, just remember that Auntie Rose does swear without thinking sometimes, so please don't copy her. We will call in and see her later today. First thing for you though young man is some clothes. There are enough coupons in the ration book to get most of what you need."
Ted washed up and put away the breakfast dishes and joined his mum at the front door to walk up the road and catch the bus to Rose Hill, then another bus on to Sutton where all the big shops were.
They arrived in Sutton at 10-30AM and went into Marks and Spencer's store renowned for good cheap clothing. After a crazy and slightly embarrassing stop at the underwear department they visited each section and left the shop an hour later with a very big bag of clothes and a new pair of shoes.
By that time it was nearly lunchtime so they caught the buses back home.
Ted unpacked his new clothes and put them neatly in the drawers and wardrobe.
In the kitchen his mum was fixing some sausage and mash with onion gravy. Ted smelled it in his bedroom and was there like a rocket.
"Mum, sausage and mash. I've not had that since I went away. I never forgot the smell though."
"Good son, I thought you would like it and sausages are a bit easier to get than other meat."
"What about fish and chips some time mum?"
"Yes we can have those on Friday nights like we used to."
"Oh smashing mum I will love them, a nice bit of rock salmon and chips."
"Right I am going to dish up go and wash your hands please."
Ted was up and in and out of the bathroom before she had dished up the feast. He sat down and his mum put a large plate of 2 sausages with creamy mash in front of him. His mouth watered as he waited for his mum to sit down at the table.
"Go on then Ed...Err, Ted, tuck in son."
Ted was as polite and ate as nicely as he could but he was finished with bloated belly in no time.
"Mum that was lovely, I could eat that all over again."
His mum smiled and said. "How about I make it next Tuesday again Ted? I usually make it once a week."
"Lovely mum, what about when you go back to work though?"
"I have arranged for Aunt Rose to look after you as she has to be home to look after Uncle Bill."
"What about food though mum, isn't Aunt Rose poor?"
"I will give her money for sandwiches and we will have dinner at night when I get home. I can leave stews and other things in the slow cooker so they will be ready when we get home. I will pick you up at Aunt Rose's after work. You haven't seen her for a long while and Uncle Bill is very, very ill now. Let's wash up and walk over to see them."
They arrived at Auntie Rose's house quite quickly and Teds mum let herself in with a key. Aunt Rose was feeding Uncle Bill with some food. Ted gasped as he saw his Uncle for the first time in three years. He was so thin and his skin looked yellowish in colour. Aunt Rose put the dish down and came over and hugged Ted.
"Edward how lovely to see you dear, my how you've grown since you've been away, and you look so well."
Ted hugged Aunt Rose back but was near to tears seeing his favourite Uncle so ill.
He walked over and gave him a kiss and heard his rasping breath as he said to him.
"Hello Edward you look fine young man now. Wales must have agreed with you."
He saw the near tears in Ted's eyes and said. "Now don't you be sad son. This disease unfortunately runs in the male side of my family and my dad and granddad were the same in the end. So try not to be sad, there's a good boy. Show me that famous smile I remember."
Ted tried and almost made it when Uncle Bill started a coughing fit. Ted saw the blood on the handkerchief and that set the tears flowing for real. He ran to his mum to hug her saying amid the tears. "Oh mum, he is so ill, all that blood as well."
His mum said. "Ted, Uncle Bill will never get any better and we need to be strong for him. Can you try and do that?"
"I will do my best mum but Uncle Bill was only a little bit ill when I went away."
His mum wiped away his tears.
"You all right Edward love?" His Uncle said.
"Yes Uncle Bill. Sorry I cried like a baby."
Uncle Bill managed a smile and said. "You go out and see Rufus. He is in the garden. Like me he is getting old now but I bet he remembers you."
Ted kissed his uncle again and went out into the garden. There on the grass was Rufus. A small brown mongrel that Uncle Bill had rescued as a puppy saw Ted and rushed up wagging his tail like mad.
"Rufus, are you a good boy?" Ted said.
In answer he got a face lick from the now 10 year old dog. Ted hugged Rufus feeling the hurt he had just got from seeing Uncle Bill almost melt away with the loving of the dog.
Indoors the adults were talking and Ted's mum brought up the piano and what she hoped they could do. Rose and Bill agreed to the plan. Bill would help the boy where and when he could to learn scales and read basic music. After that, if the boy was any good they could get him a proper teacher.
At St Dunstan's the Teachers had been told of Tommie's talent with the piano.
The head of his unit had gone to the pub to hear him on his first night and decided that if Tommie wanted to, he could train to be a music teacher.
Tommie jumped at the chance and along with learning to read and write in Braille and all the other finer points of surviving as a blind man in a seeing world.
For three years Tommie worked hard both at learning to teach and playing music playing at the pub, building up a nice nest egg of cash.
Unknown to him work was being done in the background to settle him outside of the institute and into a life for himself. With a lot of blackmail on the part of the housing officer a ground floor flat had been found for him on the new St Helier Estate in Surrey.
Tommie was ecstatic and James would be re-joining with him to help him acclimatise to the new local area for three weeks, or more if needed. In that time he would learn how to get around his new flat and learn all the streets, buses, and shops in the area.
* * * * *
The year was now 1950. Although Tommie couldn't see the flat he knew it was nice. It smelled clean and help would come every other day to clean for him until he was able to do it for himself. There was a small garden to the flat and he was able to sit out in the sun and enjoy the warmth.
One day across the fence came the voice of a boy that he guessed to be around thirteen judging by the up and down sometimes squeaky tones to the voice.
"Hello Mister, My name is Ted. I live next door, are you blind?"
End of part one.