The snow was falling heavily, as it had done so for the last two weeks. Most of the roads in this part of west London were open, but Upper Barnes Mews was one of those that weren’t.
The wireless was reporting a news story of Thailand apparently declaring war on Britain and the United States, and although the older generation sat around and listened carefully, stories of the war had become such an every day thing people just took them in their stride. Michael was more interested in the weather.
The knock at the front door took Michael by surprise, especially as he had been watching the snow falling through the lounge window and hadn’t noticed anybody walk passed. It was just starting to get dark, but he would have still been able to see somebody outside. The house was an end terrace, and the road stopped just passed this house, in fact it was blocked by a brick wall that hid the houses in the road beyond it. There was no way that anyone could have walked into the road from that direction, unless they had climbed over the wall. Which was possible, but highly unlikely due to the heavy snow.
Michael’s mother placed her sewing onto the table in front of her chair, and got up to answer the door. Michael couldn’t make out what was being said in the hallway, but could hear his mother and father talking. His father had already opened the door by the time his mother had left the lounge. Michael then heard another voice. A woman’s voice.
Michael heard a few more hushed words, and then realised that an air raid siren was sounding. His mother came back into the lounge, picked up her sewing work, and took Michael by the hand. She led him to the shelter that was in their back garden.
The shelter was large enough for six people, so there was plenty of room for the four of them. Michael climbed onto his top bunk bed and watched as his mother poured four glasses of fresh orange juice. His father was still speaking quietly to the strange woman who had knocked on the door.
Michael looked at the woman, and saw that she wasn’t so strange after all. Brown hair almost hidden beneath a headscarf, and a long brown coat that went down to just beneath her knees.
The woman noticed Michael looking at her and gave him a kind smile.
“Hello, Michael”, she said, with a northern English accent, “I’m your Auntie Clancy”.