GILBERTINE & THE EXCHANGE (Volume One) — Chapter 5, Second Letter “Home” (19 July 1964 — Part 1): The Incident of 26 June

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Hi Ian (thanks for making a photocopy of my last letter & sending it to Jenny) –

Hi Stan –

Hi Rashmi (thanks for getting a copy of this to Brenda) –

Hi Jenny (your summer in Hong Kong sounds fascinating) –

Hi Brenda (glad we could touch base at last) –

Hi Dex (thanks for getting in touch with Mick and Wack, showing them my last letter and sending me their new addresses) –

Hi Mick & Wack (tell me more about your respective new tower digs) –

Great to hear from you! Been laid up since my last letter, so they particularly mean a great deal just now. Read each one several times over, believe me. The new Radio Sutch tapes also helped a great deal, Ian & Stan – did you get mine of KRLA?

How to explain what happened on the 26th?

As I mentioned last time, Hayes Park gives me the creeps but, just before I get there, there’s a street (where the postbox in the park is) called Halcyon Street. Walk west along the park’s north edge, cross a bridge, continue a block , and there’s a smaller north-south route (two lanes each direction) called Signal Way. Go left (south) three quarters of a mile or so and there’s a shopping mall – Signal-Doheny Shopping Centre.

Not a patch on the Bull Ring in size, and it’s sort of an arcade, not enclosed – but it’s not bad for a town the size of Valle Linda.

There’s a shop that resembles an old-fashioned ice cream parlour and candy shop, that carries chocolate covered mints and malt balls, hard penny candy, and every flavor of candy stick imaginable.

It’s doing its bit for early education of  the generations to come by offering kids under 12 three free ice cream cones for each “A” on their report cards, two for each “B”, and one for each “C” — but they must show their report cards to get a “Freebie Card.”

There’s a huge toyshop with electric trains running its walls and slot car tracks.

Kids bring slot cars here to race. I haven’t met a soul, but when I’m racing, I almost think, for a moment, I belong.

There’s an upmarket “game shop” — for rich adults, I daresay,who never fully stopped being kids. It has pinball machines

antique board games














circular three party chess games as well as three-dimensional chess and scrabble











toy soldier sets and battlefields, antique doll houses, dolls, figurines and miniatures,














geometric three-dimensional puzzles and puzzle boxes,






historical, other themed, or just elegant conventional chess sets.

Can’t afford to buy anything in there, but it’s a fascinating place to browse through – which they let kids do, long as they only look, and don’t touch



In addition, there’s The Broadway, a popular department store in this part of the US; a bank; a tailor; a chic dress shop;, a travel agent;







a bookshop (which also sells sheet music); a furniture shop; a garden center; a gourmet food, wine and spice shop; and






See’s Candies, an up market sweet shop chain that’s quite the thing in these parts (every time their door opens and I sniff the air, I almost feel like I’ve had just Sunday tea – haha!).


Anyway, I was walking to the mall – two weeks exactly after my last letter, actually – when the “accident” or “incident” or whatever happened.

I don’t remember much after crossing the bridge on Halcyon Street, except that, somewhere along the way, someone grabbed me – hard (I still have finger-sized bruises on each upper arm). I woke up in care with a concussion and no memory of what had happened.

Everyone was worried because of what happened in Dudley, but no problems – so far – other than I see coloured lights every so often and have to have a lie down. That, and memories sometimes have this dreamlike, phantasm quality. Sometimes I’m not sure whether or not they’re real.

It’ll sort itself.

I hope.


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