The Dooleys lived in a forgotten air raid shelter under the ground. Their door was an iron hatch which opened to reveal downward metal steps. The air raid shelter was in a grassy field which had been a sport’s ground for the school nearby. The school, made of dark wood, was left empty. Children’s faded drawings hung lop sided in the abandoned art room,
The Dooleys only ventured out to go to the super market in a street nearby. When the cashiers saw them they frowned and were alarmed, but no one said anything. The Dooleys were treated like ordinary customers.
The Dooleys weren’t ordinary. Mr Dooley was long and thin. He had long arms, long legs and a long body. His face was long. His eyes were made from milk bottle tops. He was fashioned out of grey sticks held together with grey wire. In the winter, he wore a red hat, made from discarded oven gloves. Mr Dooley had a rasping cough, but he spoke in a squeaky voice.
Mrs Dooley was short and round. She was made of short grey sticks. Her eyes were orange marbles. When she spoke it was in a posh I told you so voice. Mostly, the Dooleys knew better than people. They had two children a nine year old girl called Shooley Dooley and a ten year old boy called Hooley Dooley. The children were made out of pale sticks of ash and held together by flex. Shooley’s wire was from an old iron and Hooley was held together by wire from a broken electric kettle.
Hooley had a long thin nose like his father. His eyes were green and white marbles. His mouth was made from red cardboard from a tea packet. He sighed a lot and sang songs. His trousers were made from yellow dusters which Mrs Dooley had sewn together, on an old sewing machine in the vacant school.
Hooley’s sister Shooley had hair made out of grey wire wool, the kind used for cleaning. Her mother was always bending and crimping it to suit Shooley’s face which had been cut from a magazine and pasted on to cardboard. The face was perfect and once belonged to a famous film star. Shooley liked dancing and singing, but so far, she had only danced to her family in the air raid shelter.
Mr and Mrs Dooley had made their children out of sticks from the ash tree in the field. Exploring behind the empty school, they found the necessary items. “You will get old,” warned Mrs Dooley. Your sticks will get brittle and the paper on your faces will go all wrinkly, especially in the rain. We all have
to get old,” she said in her posh I told you so voice.
“We won’t!”, they shouted in unison. “We won’t!”
They both stamped their little feet which were made out of small tomato tins. Shooley and Hooley often tap danced on the stone floor of the air raid shelter, their tin feet making echoes as they sang happily together.
Mrs Dooley was pleased with her children until Hooley suddenly shouted. “I want to go to the shop on my own! I want to make Shooley a new hat! I want to make grass soup. I want….”
“Wanting is what you haven’t got,” warned Mrs Dooley in her posh I told you so voice.
” And what’s more……”, he gulped “I want….”
We don’t know what he wanted, but Mrs Dooley who was now climbing up the ladder called ominously over her shoulder. “Having is, what want never gets.” Then she had to come back down the steps because Mr Dooley appeared above her head.
“Words make words,” he commented.
When Mr and Mrs Dooley were in the air raid shelter. Mr Dooley stretched out his wiry arms to hug his family. First he coughed, then stepping back to look at them proudly, he spoke in a squeaky voice.
“There’s a cat in the school hall.”
They all looked at him in amazement.
“Yes,” he added, “With three kittens.”
Hooley and Shooley jumped up and down making tinny sounds on the stone floor.
“What are cats doing in our story?” Shooley asked in her happiness.
” We can’t let them in. We must go shopping,” her father said. “That is the point of our story.”
If we let them in we’ll be too long. No one will read us!” cried Mrs Dooley in her I told you so voice.
“Yes they will, some very good children will read us to the end. We want to see the kittens!” screamed Hooley.
“No!” thundered Mrs Dooley. “You don’t know where you are with kittens. They leap out on the unawares!”
“Our children are not the unawares,” said Mr Dooley getting cross. “Perhaps you are unaware Mrs Dooley.” He said this so sternly that Mrs Dooley immediately forgot about the kittens and turned her back on them all. “I may not be wise, but I know best,” she muttered. “Anyway, we didn’t make them” .Mr Dooley pointed to a thick layer of black dust which rested on the stair rail.
“Mrs Dooley,” he asked, “Is cleaning ever done?”
“There’s no good shifting dirt for the sake of it, ” his wife said indignantly, “People will think we’ve fallen victim to the adverts.”
“What adverts?” Shooley asked timidly.
“The super markets obey them,” muttered Mrs Dooley darkly.
“And quite right to,” emphasised Mr Dooley, “Adverts can educate.”
“Cleaning involves buying lots of plastic bottles,” he wife said.
“Plastic!” exclaimed Hooley angrily “Plastic is the indestructible element of rubbish on our sea shores all over the earth!”
“How do you know?” asked his sister.
“I heard it in the supermarket,” retorted her brother. “They saw it on television.”
“Why haven’t we got a television?” asked Mrs Dooley with a hint of jealousy.
“Because we’re too busy to watch it. We do things. We don’t watch them,” her husband said firmly. “I hope you’re not falling victim to the adverts for housewives,” he continued fixing Mrs Dooley with an expressionless look. He had not yet succeeded in showing feelings on his face or on the faces of his family because expressions change so quickly. Mr Dooley openly admitted in all humility that he could not compete with a wonderful creator who made real people and who knew the secret of life.
Mrs Dooley picked up a sheet of old newspaper. She screwed it up and began rubbing the stair rail.
“I want to be a policeman!” shouted Hooley.
“You can’t be what you’re not because then you wouldn’t be,” said Mrs Dooley triumphantly.
“Don’t interrupt yourself!” commanded Mrs Dooley in her poshest I told you so voice.
They all climbed up the ladder and set off across the field. In his eagerness, Hooley tripped, and fell on the grass.
“Oh! Hooley!” exclaimed his mother. Don’t try and get there before you can be there!”
Hooley and Shooley were warned by Mrs Dooley not to get mud on their tin feet. And told if they saw children, to fall down in a heap and pretend to be rubbish so as not to be identified.
When they arrived at the supermarket a great joy swept over them. A huge neon sign hung over the shop front. They read: ‘ All Dooleys welcome. Shopping free. At last! people were welcoming aliens!
When the Dooleys entered the supermarket, all the cashiers were smiling!