Dear Children

London calling to the faraway towns

Now war is declared – and battle come down

London calling to the zombies of death

Quit holding out – and draw another breath

My dearest Simon, Mary and Stephen,

Fifty seven nights have passed and we are still here. All of us. Those bombs may break our houses but they cannot break our spirit. They can bomb us for another one hundred nights and we shall still be here, united against the common enemy. I write to you from the family home which we returned to last Thursday, it has been untouched by the troubles though the area is not without its sad stories.

They say that Hackney was badly hit as was Tottenham but I’m sure you’ll find it more disturbing to know that the football ground at Highbury suffered a blow, the North Bank terrace apparently. Closer to home though, Mrs Finchley from down the road told us that her cousin’s house has been destroyed. It’s such an awful thing to happen but every war must have its casualties. These things are to be expected in these difficult times.

We’ve been sleeping in the tubes on the evenings, it’s been a more homely experience than I ever could’ve imagined, there’s been singing and dancing. We’ve made many new friends who have children of similar ages to you who I know you’ll be delighted to meet. The sight of people queuing to get into the stations has become part of people’s daily routine, but there has been no pushing and shoving just folk helping other folk left right and centre. Obviously with the food being rationed it’s been hard to keep up our morale and I won’t pretend that it isn’t terrifying at night-time to hear those sirens. Braver folk than I listen intently but I cover my ears, I’ve felt the ground shake as explosions nearby rock the foundations but I can assure you we’re very safe here. Nothing can touch us. No bombs can penetrate our underground lair.

The news reports have been telling us that Hitler’s turned his attention elsewhere, that we are too strong for him and that he cannot conquer us. Doesn’t that just make you feel proud? Knowing that all of Europe has been swept away before him, great nations like France fell before his fist but our little Kingdom has proved to have too much spirit and fight. I know that we’ll win this war and that when that day comes it’ll be the biggest celebration of all of our lives, just you see. When our boys fight them Nazis they fight without fear, they fight with the help from their fallen brothers in mind. Retribution for splitting our families will come at the cost of Hitler’s own life. I’m certain of it. I know we are too strong.

Your father has been working very hard at the armoury, helping keep our brave soldiers in bullets and helmets and whatever else it is they have there. He tells me that his superior Mr Mason has got all three of his sons fighting in the war. Imagine, all three of your children at the front line, fighting for King and Country. He hasn’t lost any yet either which is something to give thanks for. If either of my two boys were old enough to be out there fighting I know they’d be brave enough to enlist though I dare say I wouldn’t get a winks sleep. As only a mother could understand. With the way things are I hope all this is over before either of you get to that age but who knows when the war will be over.

I expect that life is very different for you at the moment over there. It’s a peaceful place. In a way I’m glad that you can experience some of the same things that I did as a child, the walks, the countryside, the animals, the ponds, the plants, all of it. I’m sure your grandfather has informed you that we used to visit your great-grandmother there every summer when I was a little girl, it was a beautiful, idyllic time of my life so for you to experience part of our families heritage is important for both me and your father. We are just sad that we can’t be there with you to see it. Thinking about it takes me back, I can remember the spot where we used to jump over the beck and explore the woods there. Wonderful memories that are certainly helping me keep my resolve out here.

I trust that you are behaving yourselves correctly for your grandparents. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that at their age they need children to be at their most helpful and courteous. I can imagine that you’ll be eating the freshest of foods straight from the ground out there, where there is a plentiful supply of eggs, butter and meat. I bet you’re helping out every way that you can, feeding the animals is such a joy, the goats are my favourite, they rival the pigs for an appetite they do. Always stuffing themselves.

Simon, I want you to keep going through those books that we sent you, being able to read and write will become most important to you as you continue to grow. Remember that while food and exercise will help your body grow you also need to read to keep the mind growing, although you need little encouragement I feel the need to pass on some advice whilst I can not see you.

To Mary, you can learn all sorts of things from your grandmother that will also set you up for life. She is wise and can make some of the finest foods you’ll ever taste. Although I pray for a future where a woman can be her own master rather than that of her husband and a stove, the things that your grandmother can teach you can be invaluable to a young woman’s future. Remember, you hold all the keys within you, you just need help being shown the doors.

And finally to my littlest soldier Stephen. This time away from us had probably hit you the hardest but you can learn the most from it. I know you can get frustrated from being the youngest but you must listen to your brother and sister and do as they say as you would me or your father. They only want what’s best for you. I know you are enthusiastic to be a big boy but believe me, these years of childhood will be your best and will shape how you grow to become a man.

Your father and I send all the love in the world and count down the days till we can be reunited a family again. This war is not going to break our strength and love for each other. Remember that our soldiers will not give up fighting for you and I until the enemy is vanquished. The enemy wanted London to be its jewel in the crown but the people here are made of sterner stuff to be shattered by them.

Be brave, be good and be happy,

Your loving mother and father.

by Aron Hurst-Wilson based on London Calling – The Clash

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