Spitfire Girl

Spitfire Girl by Jackie Moggridge Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Spitfire Girl by Jackie Moggridge Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jackie Moggridge
that!’ and he marched off in the rain.
    The corporal and I walked on together past the hangars. ‘What was he so annoyed about?’ I asked.
    ‘He’s a warrant officer,’ answered the corporal as though that explained everything.
    ‘But...’
    ‘You don’t salute warrant officers.’
    ‘Oh.’
    ‘I should think he would be flattered,’ I added, after a little thought.
    The Adjutant was harassed. The corporal saluted smartly. I saluted.
    ‘A.C.W.2 Sorour, sir,’ explained the corporal apologetically.
    ‘Full name?’ asked the Adjutant, pen suspended above a form.
    ‘Dolores Teresa Sorour.’
    ‘Really!’
    ‘Yes, sir.’
    He wrote it down.
    ‘Number?’ he asked confidently. No, I thought, not again.
    ‘I haven’t got a number. Nobody gave me one,’ I added quickly.
    ‘Haven’t got a number?’ he exclaimed in a startled voice.
    ‘No, sir,’ I answered.
    ‘Impossible,’ he shouted. ‘You must have a number.’
    ‘No, sir, I haven’t.’
    ‘Corporal!’
    ‘Sir?’
    ‘Why hasn’t she got a number?’
    ‘Don’t know, sir,’ answered the corporal in a voice that disowned responsibility.
    The Adjutant looked heavily at us both and then shuffled his fingers through the astronomical pile in his ‘In’ tray. The ‘Out’ tray was sadly empty.
    ‘I haven’t got time. Take her to the Queen Bee. Ask her to sort it out and ’phone me.’ With this he waved an arm in dismissal and stretched wearily towards the ‘In’ tray.
    The ‘Queen Bee’ proved to be the senior Waaf officer on the station. She was equally as harassed as the Adjutant but considerably kinder. I explained to her, before she asked about my number, that I was not yet really in the air force and was sent here to help out until the next draft at Oxford was ready.
    ‘An enviable position,’ she commented dryly.
    I raised my eyebrows. ‘Well,’ she explained. ‘This is in the nature of a trial. If you don’t like it, you can leave. But,’ she added confidently, ‘I’m sure you will like us.’
    I was appointed as personal batwoman to two Waaf officers who lived, unmarried, in married quarters on the outskirts of the aerodrome. My duties were all-embracing but could be defined as cook, housekeeper, char, valet and butt. I was quite unsuitable for any of these tasks except perhaps the last.
    My mistresses were not unduly formidable, though I envied their tailored elegance and the thin pale blue stripe on their sleeves. I washed dishes and raked cold ashes in the grey light of dawn with all the self-pity and poignancy of Cinderella. My vision was limited to coagulated frying fat, wet coal, constant conflict with authority regarding my ‘uniform’ and, overhead, the tantalizing roar of aircraft. In bed, at night, my thoughts lingered over a burning effigy of the Director-General of Civil Aviation.
    My first meal was, unfortunately, dinner. I found potatoes and a cabbage in the larder. I boiled both. Profusely. With brilliant enterprise I served the cabbage water as soup (I had rarely entered the kitchen in South Africa; neither I believe had my mother) and retired to the kitchen to prepare the second course.
    ‘Sorour,’ commanded a voice from the dining alcove.
    ‘Ma’am?’ I enquired.
    ‘You have forgotten the salt.’
    Relieved at so petty a reproof I brought it. They finished the soup. I served the cabbage and potatoes.
    ‘Meat?’ asked one, appraising dubiously the insipid combination of green and white.
    ‘There wasn’t any Ma’am,’ I answered. They glanced eloquently at each other, looked with unspeakable disdain at their plates and then commenced poking with insulting fastidiousness at my dinner. I returned to the kitchen.
    ‘You may serve the port,’ ordered one as I collected the flatteringly empty plates.
    ‘Pardon, Ma’am?’
    ‘The port,’ she repeated.
    ‘Yes, Ma’am,’ I answered confidently. Port, I wondered and repeated the word until it lost its meaning. Port, port, port. What’s

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