I kept my secrets but saw them sold with
no recompense for all those years of
silence, of pretending to parents, husband,
children, friends that I did something
awfully dull during the War when everyday
I handled the enemy’s most
precious jewels set in a
brooch of other people’s cleverness.
I worried that secret would tumble after
secret, that my loved ones would learn
just how promiscuous I was in that
wartime whirlwind of hard work and
boredom in which lust was as
easy to kindle as a
bushfire in a drought and
just as hard to put out.
It was difficult not to ladder my
hard-earned stockings as I knelt on
rough floors learning to enjoy the taste until a
worldly RAF man taught me how
with a little cooking oil and a
moment’s discomfort I could avoid a
pregnancy and remain virgo intacta for my
blessedly oblivious husband.
Grandmothers aren’t supposed to have done all that
are they? We look so frail and
frumpy but we lived once
ferociously in the face of
death and disaster and in the end
no one asked any awkward questions as they were
uninterested in what we did, only in
what we achieved.