My father with his foibles was not always ‘great’ with the local retailers. This made it awkward during the war and after when rationing persisted for many years, for one had to be ‘in the know’ to be sold contraband or ‘under the counter’ items.
My father was fond of a smoke and it was particularly difficult to obtain his favourite brand.
My father would send his elder children sometimes on this awkward errand. Now Nellie Ross, who was noted for selling ‘under-the-counter’ items to favourite customers, certainly did not count father in their number. Whether it normally transferred to the children or not, father was astonished when Patsy returned with his favourite brand of cigarettes.
‘We’ll put the flag out!’ he exclaimed. ‘Nellie actually sold us from under-the-counter!’
Later that evening my mother and father went to the cinema. On approaching the house on their return, they spotted a papal flag flying in the street. Closer up they realised it was flying from their own bedroom.
John had taken my father at his word!