Monday, January 23, 2006


Story Contd

It was good to be back home with a flushing toilet. Gran's ancient privy in tbe back yard had a paralysing effect on my innards and whilst Californian Syrup of Figs was OK, Gran's enemas were a step too far.

As the war hotted up friends and family began to be enlisted in the forces and there was a lot of heartbreak. Occasionally the German planes bombing the city would go off piste and jettison their cargo near us, causing the sirens to start their mournful wailing. Dad would race down to the Town Hall on his trusty steed (the motorbike) and Mum would usher Evan and me down the hill to Uncle Jim's pub where Auntie Elsie would give us chocolate biscuits.

The pub was a bit of a boozer with sawdust and spitoons on its stone flags. Evan and I loved the notice in the bathroom which said 'PLEASE USE THE LAVATORY NOT THE BATH'
Before long the 'All Clear' would go - one continuous note, and back we would go up the hill to our beds.

Food rationing meant we had to eat endless quantities of spam and scrambled egg, made from a yellow powder. Sweet rationing really hurt and we used to have little flat tins filled with a mixture of cocoa and sugar which we would lick. The more knowledgable of us warned that it was dangerous to lap up too much as this would dry your blood up. Obviously.

The evacuees arrived and as they had spent countless nights underground avoiding Adolf's bombs they brought with them nits and scabies. But DDT lotion and sulphur ointment soon got rid of those.

We were brainwashed with propaganda and the world was split into goodies and baddies.
Clearly we and the Americans and the Russians were the former and the Germans and Italians were the latter. Stalin and FDR were revered as our noble Allies and Hitler and Mussolini were pilloried as ridiculous figures of fun.
'We're going to hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Have you any dirty washing mother dear?'

It was only at the end of the war that - thanks to the newsreels we realised the full horror of Nazi-ism and later still when we, the common people, learnt the true
story of Joseph Stalin.

The local children formed a gang led by Jake - a boy with false legs and a fearsome stick. We decide to raise money for the Spitfire Fund and made spill holders which held tapers so that you could light your fag from the fire and save matches. The lavender bags we made were less successful as we had no lavender and made do with talcum powder. Miraculously people bought these rather messy articles and when we considered we had a reasonable amount of money we marched on the Town hall. Jake decreed that we would only hand it over to the Mayor and we ended up having tea with him in the Mayor's Parlour.

The GI's (dough boys - over paid, over sexed and over here) were a breath of fresh air and were very generous with precious items like nylons. It was always a great sadness that I was too young for them but Auntie Janet married one and they are still together in the States.

In spite of the doctor I sat the scholarship and got it. Joy all round. I could now join my big sister at the grammar school and the world would be my oyster.
Hip,Hip hooray!


Growing Up said...

That was a great story. Were you not scared when the siren went of and you had to get out of bed and run to the pub. Or did the biscuits make up for you having to get out of bed?

fjl said...

I love the way you can bring up these lasting love stories! On the blogs world-wide ( our wonderful selves excluded!) there is so much bewailing the opposite.
This reminds me of Dad's stories about the sirens. He had alot of training with the ISRB and knows it. He feels bad for the others, all the agents did. He said you'd be walking along a London pavement, going to post a letter, pull out a pack from your pocket and light a cigarette, and you'd suddenly have to fling yourself out flat on the ground.

Guyana-Gyal said...

My mum tells stories from the war, she was a little girl...stories from this part of the world. She remembers the Brit. soldiers and the zepplins, the bombs found on the seashore.

I sometimes say to her, 'Can you imagine what would have happened to you all if Hitler had won the war?' Because I was sure the Nazis would wend their wicked way here eventually.

granny p said...

Lost worlds...My twin and I were only six when the war ended; I remember being disappointed - no more getting up in the middle of the night because of air-raids, which we thought were fun - somehow our mother kept us from being frightened by them. She didn't succeed so well with our older brother; for years after he used to jump and turn white at the smallest bang. Remembering the war as normality makes a great divide. Our youngest sister wasn't born till two years after it ended, and it's something which cannot quite be communicated even to her.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

From enemas to a scholarship in just one war, wow! And congratulations on the scholarship - I know I'm a few decades late, but judging from your post you can still feel the triumph of that achievement.

PI said...

GU. We just loved a bit of excitement. And the bickies of course.

Fjl MTL was watching the history channel - all about wartime codes - and I thought of your father

GG We always had this certainty that right would prevail. It isn't so black and white these days. Your earlier comment re book and film got me fantasising and I asked MTL who should play Pat. 'Marilyn Monroe' he replied!
In his dreams!

Granny P Yet another Granny who is younger than me! I think you must have had a more frightening war and I hope your brother didn't have lasting effects. It must be fantastic to be a twin. One imagines one could never be lonely.

Zinnia It's just that I'm reliving everything again. And even at eleven it really did affect the rest of your life.

Kath said...

Thank goodness you didn't end up with a doughboy, you might never have ended up with your true love ;o)

Thanks for visiting my blog - wanted to tell you that I added you to my blogroll "Those Across the Pond" I love reading yours, I hope others stop by!!

Anonymous said...

Occasionally the German planes bombing the city would go off piste and jettison their cargo near us, causing the sirens to start their mournful wailing. Are we still talking about the toilet here?

PI said...

Many thanks Kath. I'll return the compliment when my son comes at half term to show me how. Unless I figure it out first.


OldHorsetailSnake said...

When I was about 12 I gathered over 1,000 pounds of scrap metal for a scrap drive in Bend, Oregon, USA. Made page 1 of the "Bend Bulletin," by cracky. But I didn't have to dodge bombs, like you did.

PI said...

Hoss. Bless you for that. Hands across the sea certainly shortened the ordeal. Because of our georaphic position, in our lacality, we had it easy.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Good will prevail. I like that.

Marlyn Munroe! Aww, he is sweet.

PI said...

GG I think 'Right will prevail' was a quote from the lawyer in 'The Winslow Boy'. I love it too. good old Terence Rattigan - they don't make tham like that anymore.