Dad was going to the site late one Saturday morning. It was over the other side of London, Edmonton he said. He had borrowed someone’s car and he took Roseanne and me with him. Jim was still away, in France. We drove along the North Circular Road, for hours it felt like. We passed a big pub called The Pantiles. The name was in big capital letters on the side of the pub, THE PANTILES. Dad said that once the letter L had dropped off and it said THE PANTIES instead. I thought it was true and then I realized he was joking. We passed a big reservoir and we weren’t even half way yet.
We didn’t go to the site with him. He dropped us off at an open air swimming pool somewhere nearby and said he’d pick us up later. It wasn’t like the open air pool in Chiswick. There was only one pool and it was much more crowded. There was no chance of seeing anyone we knew there, no-one from school, none of our neighbours. I tried to swim a few widths but there were always too many people in the way. I didn’t want to splash around or jump in and out of the pool. I wanted to swim. Roseanne stood at the side of the pool, held her nose and jumped in, like she did in Chiswick. She got out, stood on the side, held her nose and jumped in again. She did this over and over.
I told her that I was going to sit on my towel, it was too crowded to swim. I wanted to sit near her but it was all too crowded. I found a space a bit further away than I wanted but I could still see her most of the time, in between the other children at the edge of the pool.
I started to wonder what would happen if Dad didn’t come back. What if something happened to him? Where were we? I only had a few pence. All we had was the clothes we’d come in, our swimming stuff and a couple of towels.
I tried not to think about it. Dad would be back soon.
But building sites closed at lunch-time on Saturdays. What if he got locked in? What if he was stuck there till Monday morning? What would happen to us?
All the time I was wondering I kept thinking of a song that had just come out, “Rock on”, I didn’t know who it was by. A couple of times I sang the words out loud, not meaning to. I looked around, wondering if anyone had heard me. I wouldn’t have bothered looking round in Chiswick. I would have sung all the words I knew, but it didn’t feel right here. The song mentioned summertime blues and blue suede shoes.
I looked over at where Roseanne was. It looked like she was having fun. She knew where I was and she’d come over if she wasn’t enjoying herself. I lay down on my towel and looked up at the sky, completely blue, not a cloud anywhere. I closed my eyes. This place sounded different from the pool in Chiswick. I opened my eyes again, and wondered about Dad again.
And where do we go from here?