War sent the clock whizzing back

To young people now the war is just history, their grandparents were born after the war, sometimes even their great-grandparents were…It truly was a different world, a very different world and here in Britain where food supplies were cut off, husbands, fathers, brothers and sons away fighting and serving abroad and at home, women out working instead of in the home, over a million and a half children, women, and vulnerable people evacuated far from their homes and apart from their friends and family, the ordinarty world changed forever.

What is also difficult to properly put over and explain is how lives were different for years and years after the war; the terrible bomb damage all across the country – when I first went to Manchester in 1969 there were still bomb sites in the city. Rationing continued for almost ten years for some food items and people had to be self-reliant in a way which is enviable and yet also hard to imagine!

Here is an evocative little piece by the wonderful Ruth Drew, in her book The Happy Housewife, which is about much more than ‘just’ being a housewife. If you can get hold of a copy I really do recommend it, a fascinating, informative, and very amusing read:

War sent the clock whizzing back for all of us in many different ways. We walked abroad at night in dark streets; we cultivated our plot of land or even our window box and made full use of its produce: we relied on our legs instead of petrol engines: and we found ourselves, every now and again, busily engaged in bartering like ancients instead of shopping like the moderns: and that meant moving backwards in time to the very beginning of shopping.



  1. David Lewis

    My father left England in 1956 mainly because of rationing gasoline. He had a nice new car but couldn’t drive it much and that was the last straw for him. We had a good life in Canada but I knew he was home sick and as life slowly improved back in England I knew that he questioned himself as to whether he had done the right thing in leaving. For me I love England but have been a Canadian most of my life. I think the brexit vote shows that people don’t want there way of life to radically change and become strangers in there own country. Every facet of there life being dictated to by some faceless bureaucrat in Brussels.Free trade was an ideal espoused by David Ricardo years ago and he thought it would work due to Englands over whelming industrial power and competitiveness. Like the saying goes{ be careful what you wish for }

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      It’s an interesting time for us, that’s for sure… most young people I know wanted to stay in Europe – they like the idea of free movement and the opportunities to work abroad without having to get visas etc. My daughter wanted to work in Canada but it was impossible to get the paperwork, so she’s going to work in Brighton instead… Nobody seems to know for sure what is going to happen, and both main political parties are in an absolute shemozzle – and now we have a new Prime Minister! The Labour party seems to be stabbing themselves in the back… who knows how it’s all going to sort itself out!


  2. David Lewis

    Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo were arguing the merits of each others ideas on economics when an old and bored Malthus yelled out { What does it really matter who’s right or wrong for in the end we’ll both be dead anyway } I sorta agree with his logic. One day at a time Lois.


  3. Rosie Scribblah

    Bomb sites were play areas when I was a kid, and there was a huge industrial tip opposite that we played on too. Slum housing was widespread and our Infant school was a grim, cold Victorian building with outside toilets. Why do people bang on about the good old days? They weren’t good if you were poor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      We lived in Cambridge – yes it had the gilded university, but we ordinary folk lived in ordinary places, with ordinary schools and outside toilets – and even in little old Cambridge there were slums. We were lucky that it was a small place and we could easily bike out into the countryside – but going by train to other places and travelling through mile after mile of derelict and dismal areas where others lived… When I first went to Manchester in 1969 there were still bombsites, and when I started teaching in 1975 there were families where the child who got up first got the shoes and so went to school…


      1. Rosie Scribblah

        School dinners often the only decent meal a lot of children had, look at the rubbish they serve in schools now. Scandalous. Bring back proper school dinners and tyrannical dinner ladies. That would stop fussy eating nonsense 😁 Oh dear, now I sound like my dad lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lois

        So true – and I’m sure afternoon behaviour was better because they were full of something which tasted good as well as being good for them. Honestly, my mum-in-law’s school cook’s book is full of tasty nourishing recipes, very inventive and practical.


      1. Lois

        And the latest negative reporting on people who live in social housing is a disgrace and the patronising attitude about the need for more social housing… There’s a very interesting WP blog called Municpal Dreams which is about social housing


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