This is the next part, in chronological order, of my Peggy and the Lighthouse children’s story. I’ve used the topics from my writing groups as inspiration for the story, so it has become a little out of synch; This is chapter three, but I’ve already written other chapters further on.
The inspiration is a half-remembered children’s story I had when I was a small child. I’ve completely forgotten the title and author, and in despair of ever finding it, I’m writing my own story of a little girl and a lighthouse keeper.
Peggy and her sister have gone to stay with their grandma and her friend Mr Benbow is taking her to see the lighthouse. It’s set in 1952:
We had been walking up quite a steep hill but I didn’t really notice because I’m quite good at walking, and anyway it was really interesting because Mr. Benbow kept pointing out birds to me. There was so much to take in with the sea on one side of us and I was quite excited. Aunty Thelma, mummy’s friend always tells me to calm down; “Calm down for heaven’s sake, calm down, I’ve got a headache!” she says. She always has a headache, and it’s very strange but mummy usually has a headache at the same time. Mrs Day who looks after me and Barbara when Mummy goes out, says it’s the fizzy pop they drink before they go. Pop doesn’t give me a headache, and Mrs Day says that’s because I’m a child and it’s time for bed and she wants to listen to the play on the radio
I was so busy thinking about Aunty Thelma and Mrs Day that when Mr. Benbow said, ‘look there’s the lighthouse!’ I actually made a silly noise and jumped, and then I was really excited and laughed in a very silly way, and Mr. Benbow roared with laughter.
There was the lighthouse, as I had imagined it might be with white and red stripes.
“It’s magnificent,” I said when I calmed down. Mr. Benbow hadn’t told me to calm down, but I was thinking of Aunty Thelma getting annoyed with me.
“It certainly is Peg, let’s go and have a walk round it.”
Did he mean we would walk round the outside? We would circumnavigate it like Ferdinand Magellen circumnavigated the world. If I get a pet dog I might call it Magellen, but I don’t think I’ll be allowed. Or did Mr. Benbow mean we would walk round inside it? We would have to walk round inside because the lighthouse is round.
We walked down the track to the lighthouse and I saw there were little white cottages beside it. I thought it would be all alone and the lighthouse keepers would lead a solitary life.
“Who lives in those cottages, Mr. Benbow?”
“Well, one of them is my little gaff, and Mr. McIntosh lives in the other, when he’s not on duty. He’s the lighthouse keeper you know. Young Ben is his dep and he bunks with me when he’s not in the lighthouse.”