An Act of Chivalry

Ronnie.......I'm not going to ask WHY you've no socks on......Goodnight!

Photo of shop frontIn mid-April 1951, I had been in the Royal Air Force for 6 months and I was
stationed 50 miles from home at RAF Leeming and I used to come home to North Shields every weekend. I have attached this photo to add some background to this story…..I want you to know that I did NOT take this photo!

About 3 streets away from my mother’s general store there lived my schooldays friend, Irene Binks. Irene and I were the best of friends. Our friendship was always platonic and we were never anything more than that, but it was a great friendship. Our first day at the infant school was the day our friendship started. However, together, we could have talked for Great Britain.

On the mid-April Friday evening, I begged the loan of my brother’s car. Danny was my eldest brother and I knew he’d be ‘at his club’, so I knew where to find him. He was affable and besides he was with friends, one of which promised to take him home. As soon as I got the car, I headed to Irene’s house. When I knocked at the door, I heard Irene’s voice shouting, “If that’s Ronnie, tell him to bugger off, I’ve just washed my hair because I thought he wasn’t home.” I told Irene’s sister that I’d wait in the car until she was ready. Irene needed about 15 minutes to put her rollers in, then she hustled out to the car, jumped in and started cussing me for calling so late. She had slung a coat over her arm, but she was only wearing mules on her feet and it was turning quite chilly.

We drove to the north bank of the River Tyne and I explained that I’d had a letter from my girlfriend telling me I was dumped. As it happened Irene knew the girl involved and her only comment was “GOOD!”. This news started a marathon ‘talk in’, then about midnight, Irene told me her feet were freezing. Here comes the chivalry…..I took off my socks, and she gratefully put them on her blocks of ice. Post-war cars in Britain didn’t have car heaters, but in any case this was a pre-war car. She suggested it was time I took her home and so I did. Her parting words were, “Good night Ronnie, I’ll give you your socks back tomorrow.”

I drove back to Danny’s house and parked his car in front of his garage and as I was pushing the car key through his letter box, Danny opened the door and very good naturedly offered to drive me home. I told him I was happy to walk, but he insisted on taking me back home. The forecourt in front of my mother’s shop was wide enough to circle around and no reversing was involved. I thanked Danny very much for the loan of the car and closed the car door almost silently in case I woke my mother. I was trying to find my door key, when Danny opened the front passenger window and called me back to the car…….I looked into the car and Danny said, “Ronnie……I’m not going to ask WHY you’ve no socks on….Goodnight!” A wonderful memory.

The sad part of my memory was in 1985 when both Irene and Danny became cancer victims and Irene died before Danny.

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