FOR as long as I can remember, my dear old mum has regaled me and my brothers with stories about the war...

You know how Uncle Albert, in Only Fools and Horses, starts most of his sentences with the words During the war…? Well, she’s worse.

We’ve heard a million times how her house was bombed in London, and she and her siblings only survived because they were sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs when the roof fell in.

“If we’d been sleeping upstairs, we’d be dead – and you wouldn’t be here,” she likes to tell us.

I swear her anecdotes make War and Peace look like a short story.

How they spent many a night sleeping on the platform of Bounds Green Tube station when the bombing got really bad.

How she and her brother, Donald, spent hours after every air-raid hunting for souvenir pieces of shrapnel that they kept in jars.

And how she, Donald and their sister, Doreen, were evacuated as children to the relative safety of Norfolk during The Blitz, while their older brothers went off to war.

“We stayed with a couple in a lovely place called Sheringham,” she always told us, often adding: “I’ll never forget Sheringham.”

My mum’s 92 now, and I’d be a rich man if I had a pound for every time she’s talked about her happy memories of living in Sheringham. Indeed, through all the years of listening to her often-repeated wartime reminiscences, the coastal town has acquired a magical quality.

Well, until recently, I’d never been to the Norfolk coast but, as luck would have it, our son, Jack, is marrying the lovely Kitty there later this month. It gave my wife and I an excuse to head south to check out the wedding venue and spend a weekend exploring the area.

Heather and I stayed in the quirkily named Wells-next-the-Sea, and thoroughly enjoyed rambling round pretty villages, like Blakeney and Morston, with their vast salt marshes, leading to the sea.

Naturally, we also had to pay a visit to the famous Sheringham, which was just a few miles further down the coast.

“We’ll have to go – I’ve spent my entire life hearing about Mum living there,” I said to my wife.

The Northern Echo:

And, of course, we had to take my Mum back some souvenirs, so we went into a gift shop and bought her a nice Sheringham mug with a seagull design, a Sheringham tea-towel, and a Sheringham pen.

Not satisfied with that, we popped into Sheringham Museum and bought her two Sheringham At War books, packed with nostalgic photographs.

I was so excited, I had to give her a call from the street outside the museum – phone in one hand, bag of souvenirs that cost a bomb in the other. And this is how the conversation went…

“Hi Mum, guess where we are? We’re in Sheringham!”

“Where did you say?”

“We’re in SHERINGHAM!”


“Yes, you know – the place where you lived when you got evacuated during The Blitz.”

“Oh, it wasn’t Sheringham, it was a place called Briston – I was looking on the map the other night and realised I got mixed up.”

Give me strength.