(1939-09-26) Flyboy Talk
Details for Flyboy Talk
Summary: Alan finds his way to the chippy, passing some time with Katie and a meal.
Date: 26 September 1939
Location: Hind's Fish and Chips, Waterloo, London

The lunch rush is winding down at Hind's Fish & Chips, and Katie hands an order over the counter to a well dressed, middle aged man. "Two lunches with extra pickled onions for yeh, Mister Smythe, just how yeh like 'em. Tell the missus we all send our best and hope she's feelin' better soon," she says with a cheery smile and a casual East End accent. "If yeh need help with the little ones, just let us know." The man rumbles pleased thank yous as he turns to trundle himself out the open shop door, and Katie's attention turns to wiping down the counter with a damp cloth. She's dressed simply, a flowered frock covered by a white apron, and she hums while she works.

There's a brief dance in the doorway between Mr Smythe and what is, by now, becoming one of many similar arrivals in London - young men, sometimes painfully so, in clearly new military uniforms. This one isn't as young as some, perhaps early to mid-twenties, clad in the blue/grey of the Royal Air Force, a set of silver wings on his left breast marking him as a pilot. Neatly parted dark hair is kept under a service cap, which he removes as he enters with one hand, the other holding a long holdall. He'll look around, perhaps the slightest quirk of an eyebrow in surprise at something, and make a sort of salute with his cap at the redhead. "Afternoon, miss."

Her attention lifts when the military man is nearer, and Katie's broad smile is on her lips to welcome him. "Afternoon t'yeh, Officer. Isn't it a grand day out, so nice and crisp with th'sun blessin' us?" The shop smells of fresh fish and frying oil, and despite it's plain decor it's immaculately clean. "An' are yeh wantin' after some lunch t'day? We've a lovely fresh skate, just off the boat this mornin'."

"That," he admits, "Sounds like an excellent idea. Chips and mushy peas, if you would?" Odd - he doesn't look, or sound, the mushy peas type. He looks around, nods. "I'll take a seat, if you don't mind."

Katie nods, "Please, make yerself comfortable. I'll get yeh a nice cuppa while yeh wait." She turns, calling through to the kitchen, "Skate lunch, Da, with chips an' mushy." There's an answering call from the kitchen, a man's deep voice, "Aye, Bug." There's always a pot of tea ready, so it's only a moment's work to pour a cup.

Alan finds a seat, tucks his holdall out of the way and lays his cap on the table. He watches her appreciatively, asks "Busy day, miss?"

The young redhead moves with the efficiency of someone that's been brought up performing these tasks day after day, and Katie rounds the counter with the cup and a small pitcher of fresh milk. They're set before Alan, and she nods to the question, "It has been. Unfortunately, I think th'war is gonna be good for business, with rationin' an' all." Her brightness dims a little and there's a soft sigh, but she perks again. "Have yeh come in from out of town? Many of the servicemen we see have."

Alan hehs. "Sort of. Came in on Tuesday from York. Based at Biggin Hill." Which she'd know is the airbase south east of London. He spoons two sugars into the tea, adds a splash of milk. "Finally managed to wangle myself a day off to catch up on the things I need to do in town." A foot pokes at the holdall by way of explanation. "I'll be sure and tell the chaps you're here, though. Makes a change from mess food, miss."

Her brows lift in undisguised interest, "Yeh fly then? 'Course, I should have known by th'wings on yeh there," Katie notes, with a nod to his insignia. "That'd be grand if yeh did, ta. We get quite a few visitin' from the barracks nearby, an' some from the Ministry." As far as she knows, those Ministry workers are just in some branch of the British government. "It's always nice t'see some new faces." She rests her hand on the back of the chair opposite him, leaning lightly. "Nice that yeh get some time off, settle in a bit. Are yeh likin' town so far?"

He stirs the tea, leaves it to cool a bit. Considers the question. "Well…" He smiles a touch. "Makes a change from doing circuits and bumps at the base, anyway." A faint chuckle. "Can't say that'd I'd want to live in the middle, mind you. It seems to get a bit crowded and noisy."

"It's a bit less," Katie ventures, "With so many off t'the countryside in case of bombing." Of course, those were mainly mothers and children. Her head tilts, eyes taking a curious light. "Circuits an' bumps?"

He laughs. "Flyboy talk." He demonstrates with his hand. "Practicing landings without stopping: you land… bump…. then you hit the throttle and off you go again, round another circuit, bump…" A grin. "Simple."

The bright smile is back and Katie nods her understanding, "That sounds like great fun. But I'm not doin' it over and over, am I?" Still, her natural curiosity isn't yet quelled. "Did it take yeh long t'learn? Seems like flyin' would be well difficult. I've seen pictures of all the dials and knobs, in books at the library. Our Jack fancies flyin', but he can't go into service. Still, we read about it an' that pleases him."

"Long?" He mmhms. "Depends on what you call long, I guess. So far, about a hundred hours flying time. But the skipper wants me to do at least another thirty or so on a Spitfire this week." Her last comment gets a questioning look. "Can't, miss?"

"I'd call a hundred hours long," Katie notes with a grin, "But about the most complicated thing I have t'run is the fryer when Mum and Da have t'step out, so I'm no judge of it." She brushes her hands absently over her apron, smoothing wrinkles that don't exist, but her answer is easy, something she's got no problem talking about. "Aye, our Jack can't hear, was born that way. So, th'King won't take him on. But he'll help Da, watchin' from the rooftops. He's got eyes like an owl."

Alan ahs. A touch sadly, "Mm. That'd do it." He smiles at her. "Strange, isn't it, how if that kind of thing happens you make up for it in other ways."

Having dealt with it for her brother's entire life, Katie doesn't see it as so much of an obstacle, although things can be difficult sometimes. Still, there's a wistfulness when she says, "The only thing I'd fancy changin' for him is bein' able t'hear music. He watches when I play the violin, he likes t'see my fingers movin', but it'd be grand if he could hear it." There's a light shrug, and the moment is gone, her cheeriness back in full force. "But he's a grand lad an' we've all learned from it."

Alan nods, frowns thoughtfully. "Might stand more chance with drums, or leaning on a piano so he can feel the soundboard?" He smiles at her, warmly, "That's good to hear. Say… I might have a book about aircraft with me I don't need any more. I could drop it in next time I'm passing."

Katie blinks a moment, thinking through the suggestion, and it's visible in the delight on her face when it fully processes. "Aren't yeh the clever one then! I never thought of somethin' like that. There's a piano at the secondary school, I'll take him over an' find someone t'play it." The excitement in her voice turns to true gratitude at his offer of the book. "That's kind of yeh, I know our Jack would love t'read it." There's a beat pause, and then she offers her hand, "I'm Katie, by the way. Katie Hind."

He takes the offered hand, a firm shake. "Alan. Alan Martin." A quick grin. "I play piano, if you like."

Katie's hand is warm, her grip possibly pleasant, being not the strongest but far from the sensation of having a limp fish slapped into your palm. She holds on a moment too long as her brows go up, "Do yeh? Maybe sometime yeh'd come by, and we'll go t'the school? When yeh have time time," she hastens to add, finally withdrawing her hand.

Alan smiles. "Daresay I could, next time I get a pass out." He chuckles, remembers the tea and takes a drink. "Mm. Not sure when that'd be, but it'd be soon. And I could send word, I guess."

"If yeh remember," Katie says, understanding that the life of a man in service to the King isn't entirely his own to run right now, "It'd be brilliant." If she was brightly cheerful before, she's positively beaming right now. And then there's a ding, and she turns, looking toward the kitchen then back. "That's yer lunch, will yeh stay t'eat, or shall I wrap it for yeh t'take away?"

Alan smiles. "I'll stop. Easier than finding a spot to eat it on my way." He grins, lightly teasing, "And I'll remember, don't you worry, miss."

The young woman nods, her head bobbling quickly, "I'll fetch it for yeh, back in a tick." Katie executes a quick turn, scooting back around the counter to pick up the freshly fried skate, chips and mushy peas. True to her word, she's hardly gone before she's back again, setting a plate and silverware before Alan. "We have t'day's newspaper, if yeh'd like t'have a look through while yeh eat?" she offers.

Alan mms. "That'd be nice. Missed this mornings." He smiles up at her. "Thank you. It smells wonderful."

"Tuck in, I'll be back before yeh know I'm gone." Katie's smile flashes down at Alan before she scoots again, this time heading for the connecting door. They won't be wrapping fish in today's paper until tomorrow, so she gets it from where her father left it after he read it, in the kitchen. It's maybe just a touch longer than 'before yeh know it' as Katie takes the time to tell her parents about the serviceman who's offered to play the piano for Jack if he has an opportunity. When she returns her steps veer so she can take up the teapot as well. Setting the paper on Alan's table she asks, "Top off yer tea?"

Evidently he was hungry, as the plate's well on the way to being empty, and the tea as well. "Mm…. please." He gestures with a fork. "Good enough for home, this. Tnank you."

Dutifully, Katie refills the tea, leaving room for a splash of milk. "Mum and Da will be pleased t'hear th'compliment, ta. We try to do our best, especially for our lads in service." She glances to the plate, asking, "D'yeh have enough of everything? I could get more if yer still peckish. Maybe a few more chips?"

Alan shakes his head. "Need to still fit in a Spitfire afterwards." Those blue eyes are teasing. "But thank you." He'll re-sugar and milk his tea, give it a stir. "I'll make sure and let the chaps know you're here. Almost…" A grin. "Almost as good as Harry Ramsdens." Which she may or may not have heard of - Yorkshire's famous, and to many people best by a long way, chipshop.

Katie gives a good natured huff at this, "Psht. Almost." She tries to tame her grin, but it shines through in spite of her effort and she relents. "Alright then, we'll take that. I couldn't ask a bloke t'be disloyal t'his home team."

Alan chuckles. "However. You're here. And they aren't. And I'm not sure the difference is worth a four hour round trip on the train."

"We'll just be yer home away from home then," Katie says agreeably. "Still, train rides are lovely." She turns her attention to the door as an older woman comes in, and there's a greeting at once, "Missus Appleton! Cor, we was wonderin' about yeh, I was gonna pop 'round if yeh hadn't been in by Tuesday next." The woman offers an explanation of having felt poorly, getting sympathetic care from Katie as the two women meet at the counter, leaving Alan to go on with his lunch. An order is placed, called back to the kitchen, and the pair spend the time talking about grandchildren (not Katie's, obviously!) until it's ready. With it all packed up, Katie walks the woman to the door. "I'll be keepin' an eye out for yeh, an' if I don't see yeh back next week I'll come t'call." She waits at the door, watching the woman down the street, calling out another goodbye, before turning back to Alan.

Alan has finished, is skimming the sports pages of the paper while swigging at the last of his tea, and keeping enough of an eye on Katie to be aware of what she's up to. Turns a page, and sighs. "Ah well. I guess that was bound to happen now war's declared."

There's a questioning look from Katie as she reaches to gather up the empty plate and silverware. "What's bound t'happen then?" she asks. She's not one to read the paper, her father talk about the articles enough and she thinks they're only bad news. She can't hide from the realities of the war, but she doesn't go courting all the details.

Alan smiles. "They reckon no more county cricket until the war's done. However long that is. Shame." He smiles up at her, drains the tea. "Have to see if we can wrap this war up before it's due start in May next year, then."

Katie looks sympathetic, "That is sad news. But I know yeh'll do yer best t'get those Germans sorted and th'world back t'normal." Her voice is light, as if she doesn't expect this war to go on more than a month, tops. Ever optimistic. "Are yeh set for tea then? Anything else?"

Alan shakes his head, "Need to get me and my bag back to base, I think. But thank you." He sets the mug aside, stands and puts his cap on, so he can then raise it to her. "It was a pleasure meeting you, and an excellent meal."

"Oh! Just a sec!" Before he can take a step, Katie hurries back to the kitchen. She's only a minute, and when she returns it's with a brown paper sack that she hands over to him. "Now, when yeh come back, yeh c'n tell me how this measures up to anything yer Harry Ramsdens has." There's a spark of humor in her eyes, and in the bag is one each of today's desserts, the apple crumble and raspberry jam sponge, with the custard separate so it doesn't all get mushy. That's fine for peas, but not for afters. "Hope that we see yeh again soon, Officer Martin."

Alan smiles. "Thanks, lass." The Yorkshire accent that's masked by 3 years at Cambridge and three more at RAF College slips out for a second, and he grins at her. "I'll see you again, no doubt."

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