Gertie Golden Girl



I awake in the night, it must be night as it is still dark. And it is quiet, very quiet, but then my hearing comes and goes more and more lately. I can hear a soft but incessant beeping though. What is it? It seems a familiar sound but I can’t quite place it.


I feel a bit hazy, like my head is fuzzy and full of cotton wool, yet not completely out of it. I need to concentrate by calming down the panic I feel and act like the grown adult I know I am, not a frightened child in the dark.


It was at times like this that Johnnie used to say to me in his clear, commanding, beautifully cultured voice, “Come on Gertie, old girl, snap out of it!"


Old girl, indeed! I can’t help smiling at my memories of dear, dear Johnnie. "Old thing", too, he called me sometimes. It both annoyed and comforted me back then and at times ever since then, gosh, it must be seventy years, yes, hearing Johnnie inside my head has been a comfort all this time.


I knew Johnnie, my first and best husband, all too briefly, for just five short years that simply flew by, from my being 17 to 22, while he was twelve years older than me, but he always affectionately called me "Old Girl" whenever I had to face something I had never done before, and during our brief time together, of course, everything was new and some things more than a little daunting that first time, like meeting the King or even worse, Johnnie’s mother for the first time. But his quiet, “Old Girl" and gentle, supporting, loving smile just made me think to myself, “Yes, Gertie, you can do this," and realising soon after that I found I really could.


And even though he has been gone now, oh, for nearly 70 years, he is still my prop. He has always been near, ever-present in my heart, a force that sits within me, supporting me, even though I married twice more after he was gone, and even though I’ve been without either husband or lover for more than 40 years, I have always felt the strength of Johnnie’s love within me. And I feel it closer even now.


I can still hear some infernal beeping. Perhaps that is what woke me?


My left ear keeps filling with wax for the last couple of years and Chloe down at the glorified chemists near my London flat sorts that out...

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Tony Spencer
Nov 2 2021

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