Land Girl to Spy

This is the second book that I am concentrating on after Manna from Hell.  In this story I am back to what I know best, the war. In Land Girl to Spy we follow a girl and her friend as the clouds of war creep closer. Eventually she joins the Women’s Land Army where she befriends a German POW.  It is currently 5.000 words long. I will include the first page but remember the copyright implications!


Jenny’s War - From Land Army to Spy

Jenny kicked her heels into the crumbling bricks of the old wall. Red dust fluttered to the damp flagstones of the smelly entry. It was like red flour she thought dreamily noticing that it became redder as it floated on the wet brown surface. At 16 she was a few months younger than her friend Sarah who sat facing her astride the old wall. The smell of the entry was of grime, dog dirt and rubbish, an unpleasant smell to the casual visitor, but to Jenny and Sarah it was part of their life. That and the overriding smell of Cain’s brewery. This was a part of Liverpool not unfamiliar with crime, grime and poverty. But neither was it unfamiliar with community spirit. Neighbourliness was inbred and respect for the church universal.

Jenny shot out her right arm and put the fingers of her left hand under her nose to represent a moustache. “Seig Heil Mein Fuherer du bist der Schweinhund…

Sarah looked up sharply. “No Jenny, please, not even in fun, it’s just not funny, not funny at all. Anyway,” she said lightening, “your grammar left a lot to be desired.” She smiled at her friend, although the pain that the words had brought to her was plain to see. “Come on, lets go and do a bit more, I’ll make you a passable German speaker yet.”

The girls jumped down from the wall and made their way up the yard; the brown hens flapped their wings irritably as the two girls interrupted their search for titbits amongst the black bricks.. They walked through the house acknowledging Jenny’s mother as she worked in the kitchen and then her father as he poked at the fire in the living room. Carrying on into the front parlour, they sat at the old scrubbed table that Jenny’s father used as a desk. Jenny pulled her exercise book across the worn blue velvet tablecloth and resumed her German lessons.

Sarah Falk was Jewish and until two years ago had lived with her parents in Berlin. Her father a successful lawyer had seen the actions of the new National Socialist regime and had decided to get out. It meant leaving everything including a successful legal practice, albeit one rapidly loosing clients and they had packed what they could in a few suitcases. Locking up their large comfortable home, they travelled to Britain. Accommodation had been found in Liverpool their port of arrival by the German Refugee Committee and they now lived in a terraced house nearby. Sarah spoke perfect English and now wanted to ensure that her best friend would learn perfect German. The two girls sat in the musty parlour; floor to ceiling bookshelves evidenced her father’s interest in reading, an interest that he had passed on to his three children. They may be relatively poor, but they were well read. Jenny worked at the grocers in the next street, but she intended that it was only a stepping-stone. One day she thought dreamily she would manage Owen Owens’s store in the city. Sarah’s words broke through her reverie.

“Jenny, come on, you’re dreaming again, Er ist daran schuld.”

Jenny smiled, “he is to blame for it. I thought we couldn’t talk about Him!” She laughed and flicked a pencil at Sarah. “It’s 1938 now Sarah, everyone is talking about Him and from what they are saying, you got out just in time.”

The heavy wooden door swung open and her father walked in. “If I sit quietly in my own chair in my own office, do you girls mind if I have a read and a smoke?”

Jenny looked up, “Course not Dad; just don’t interrupt us that’s all.” She smiled at her father cheekily and ducked as his hand brushed past her head ruffling her short chestnut hair. “Dad, do you think there’ll be a war?”

Bill Marr sat in the scuffed leather armchair and slowly took out his pipe. It was like a religious ceremony thought Jenny as she watched him. He slowly filled it from a leather pouch, carefully tamped down the tobacco with the special tool and applied a light to it from the large box of Swan matches at his side. Drawing on the blue smoke and savouring it, he blew it out slowly before looking towards her thoughtfully and scratching the back of his head with his free hand. “I can’t say Love, Germany’s getting stronger, but it’ll be a long time before it can take on France and Britain, no, let him have his Austria and his Czechoslovakia. He’ll think twice before he tries it on with us!” Picking up a heavy maroon book, he started to read, the pipe sticking out at an angle from the side of his mouth with its curl of blue smoke climbing gently to the ceiling. Slowly he looked up taking the pipe from his mouth.

“Anyway, we gave the Germans a good trouncing in the last lot - oh sorry Sarah, I didn’t mean…”

“That’s OK Mr Marr, we were also told that we had won at the time, so my father say’s anyway.”

Jenny looked up from her book, “did your father fight in the war Sarah?”

Before she could answer her father interjected sharply. “That’s not a question you should be asking Jenny.”

“It’s OK Dad, Sarah doesn’t mind, do you Sarah, my dad fought in the war didn’t you Dad?” Her father put his head down with embarrassment at his daughter’s tactless comments.

Sarah was nonplussed, “Yes, my dad was an officer in the German army; he won the Iron Cross at Ypres.

Bill didn’t look up, the naivety of the girls was refreshing, he had fought at Ypres so could have been fighting her father! “That was a long time ago now and things are different, I was only a boy,” he muttered quickly immersing himself in his book as the girls continued with the German lessons