Sunday, 21 February 2016

Sandra and the Flying Elephants of Belfast

Sandra and the Flying Elephants of Belfast is a wonderful biographical book by Darrin Wedlock.

The book tells the story of Darrin's mother, Sandra, and how she coped with the Belfast Blitz.

When her father left the family home in Northern Ireland to fight against the Nazi German army he gives his daughter an order. He charges her with the important job of looking after her mother and her little brother, Billy.

She sets to the task with great gusto, but she has to do this against a backdrop of the Nazi blitz that severely damaged Belfast, being strafed by the Germans, nearly drowning, but fortuitously saved by a Gypsy, getting burns and also suffering the ignominy of having her hair turn green!

The book that Darrin has written is filled with moments of high drama (such as being strafed by a Luftwaffe pilot) but also the ordinary and the mundane events and the funny and amusing happenings that run together to make up a person's life.

In this case the life of his mother Sandra. The family, including grandparents, were close and they looked out for each other, especially during times of danger, such as the blitz aimed at destroying the docks and the Harland and Wolff yards.

Only this time the house of Sandra's family was subject to a direct hit, luckily when the family were out of the house. But even so, they lost everything, not even one piece of crockery survived.

The book has some lovely photographs that certainly made much to the stories contained in it.

The family moved to a cottage in Bangor which was owned by an aunt where Sandra made friends with a sickly rat.

Did her dad return safely? And as for what a flying elephant might be and why there is a picture of Sandra on board a ship, you will have to stump up your £8.99 to find out.

The book is published by Matador and is available through the that's Books Bookshop, just look for it on the right hand side of this review.

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