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Leo's Girl

Wartime London is the setting for a tale of forbidden love and divided loyalties

Peggy Thornton has always felt her middle-class life, living in Highgate Hill, to be rigid and narrow, so when women are urged to help on the home front after the outbreak of the Second World War, she starts training as a clippie – a conductor on a London Transport bus. Her parents are appalled, but they’re not the only ones who make her life difficult.

Many of the bus crew haven’t adjusted to women from their own class working let alone the likes of Peggy. And, her relationship with Leo, one of the depot’s mechanics, serves to create further tensions. It is only when the real enemy strikes, and a German bomb explodes in the path of a bus, that these differences are cast aside but, for some, it may be too late...

"In Kensington High Street, Peggy collected quite a few new fares, for the congregation of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church were just filing out into the street after the early Christmas morning Mass… She was relieved when, at Hammersmith Broadway, the bus practically emptied, but even before they had reached the far side of Hammersmith Bridge, she found herself hurrying to the aid of an elderly woman whose poor old arthritic limbs found it quite a challenge to climb on to the platform. ‘Not as young as I used ter be, ducks,’ she laughed, as Peggy helped her to a bench seat close to the baggage compartment beneath the stairs. Peggy waited for the bus to move on before returning to the old dear. ‘Where to, madam?’ The old dear wasn’t used to such respect, and it brought a huge grin to her face. ‘All the way, ducks!’ she returned chirpily. ‘All the way ter dear ol’ Putney. Wouldn’t miss me Chrissmas treat fer the world!’ ‘So where are you off to for your Christmas treat then?’ Peggy asked, as she handed over ticket and change. ‘Where?’ asked the old dear, surprised. ‘Why it’s ’ere, ducks,’ she replied, holding up the ticket Peggy had just given her. ‘This is me treat. A ride on me favourite bus ter Putney an’ back. Just the job!"
‘Lights down, tucked up snug you can almost hear air-raid sirens as Pemberton spins another superb story of London folk during wartime’
‘Plenty of thought-provoking social commentary, and an atmospheric evocation of a time survivors still look back on with nostalgia, despite its horrors and terrors.’ East Anglian Daily Times, 24 November 2001