The Way We Were...

I am not sure whether I should inform Special Branch or some other interested authority of the fact that my garage has become, over the last six weeks or so, the unlikely hide-out of a highly suspicious gang of adventure seekers.


They call themselves the Secret Six – their originality astounds me – and I would know nothing more about them than that were it not for the fact that each secrecy-shrouded meeting is preceded by a request for jam sandwiches and a bottle of orange squash. When you are looking for “advenchers” – Hilary’s spelling, not mine – you need a little bodily sustenance.


The influence of Enid Blyton, not to mention the Famous Five, the Secret Seven and the Five Find-Outers and their dog, is very much in evidence. It is easy to spot Enid Blyton fans – they come out with startling  pronouncements like “Fiddlesticks and Fish-fur!”, think everything that happens to them is “wizard” and talk in a succession of exclamation marks.


The Secret Six who meet in our garage are my three daughters, Jackie and Gary from three doors along and Sarah their next door neighbour. Not that they answer to those names during gang meetings, you understand. On Monday, Tuesday and Friday, between the hours of four and five o’clock, they are Janet, Peter, Pam, Barbara, Colin and Jack – names which might just ring a few memory bells in the minds of former Blyton readers.


I cannot say what the secret password is this week – but I have generally found that a plate of chocolate biscuits and a large packet of crisps gains me immediate admission, password or no. There they sit, in a serious circle, astride old bikes and wooden boxes, with an upturned packing case as a table in the centre, trying to look as if they are simply passing the time of day, and not engaged in the fearless solution of some minor mystery.


Their main problem, I would say, is finding a mystery, minor or otherwise. Our neighbourhood is not too hot on mysteries – and adventures are, to put it mildly, thin on the ground. There is a distinct dearth of secret messages and they are hampered, too, by the fact that our local policeman would not dream of glowering “Clear ‘Orf!”  when he meets them. He would be far more likely to ask how their cycling proficiency lessons were coming along and had they entered the school-children’s holiday competition on the theme of Crime Prevention and the Policeman?


They remind me of my own Secret Society days, when my sister and I made up the whole membership of a most mysterious body known as “The Green-Veiled Ladies” – so named because of a discarded set of green net curtains with which we disguised ourselves.


Such reminiscences do nothing to help the Secret Six, however, in their search for mysteries to solve. They don’t care much for my suggestions that they should bend their skills to discovering what happened to my hairbrush after Hilary used it on her Tressy doll, who spilt bird seed all over the larder floor when taking her turn to feed the budgerigar and why everyone becomes suddenly hard of hearing when I call them in for bed.


“But they’re not proper mysteries,” they protest.


Not to them, maybe, but certainly to me.


Kent Messenger

Summer 1975

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Latest comments

23.04 | 19:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 12:17

I have broad shoulders x