Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Try to keep your soul young and quivering right up to old age, and to imagine right up to the brink of death that life is only beginning.
I think that is the only way to keep adding to one's talent, and one's inner happiness. (George Sand)

[Thanks to for the use of this photograph]


Two haiku -

after all those years
finding my father’s razor -
the ice-cold bathroom

taken unawares -
a shop window reflection,
it’s my father’s face



Rita and I with our parents - 1928


Happy the man and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own;
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour. (John Dryden 1631-1700)


“The Girl with the Pearl Earring” by Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)


I REMEMBER Sunday September 3rd 1939, the day war was declared. We were getting ready to leave for church when the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was making the announcement on the wireless, and so it was not until later that we heard the news. I think my parents tried to conceal how worried they were, but for me and my friends, it was all very exciting and I began to take a real interest in news bulletins.

I REMEMBER that some years earlier a number boys of my own age were discussing patriotism and someone posed the question, “Would you die for your country?” I’ve got to report that I was the only one who said, “No.”

I REMEMBER that during the first months of the war plans were being made nationally to evacuate children to Canada if things got very bad. Some of my friends, with their parents’ permission of course, put forward their names. The scheme never materialised in our area, though there were cases of local children who went to Canada to stay with relatives.

I REMEMBER that the minister in our church (he had been awarded the Military Cross in the First World War) gave very upbeat sermons about fighting the Germans. My mother used to refer to his sermons as “war commentaries.” This was a reference to a series of inspiring wireless talks with the title “War Commentary.”

I REMEMBER that there were organisations available for boys of secondary school age - the Army Cadets and the Air Training Corps. My friend Andrew and I had joined the Cadets, had been issued with uniforms and were quite enjoying the drill, when our minister, who was Captain of the ATC, claimed that his organisation was much more suited to “boys of our class” and got us transferred!!!

I REMEMBER that we all had to carry our gas masks to school and occasionally we had to have a practice putting them on and off. Air raid precautions had included brick shelters built in the playground, and we regularly practised marching out of school to the shelters.

I REMEMBER that a good number of parents were Air Raid Wardens and a large number of volunteers were needed during the hours of darkness to “fire watch,” and to alert the authorities. Sometimes men who were unfit for the armed services were conscripted into the fire service and police force, and there were other who joined those services part-time.

I REMEMBER that when the war ended there were huge street parties all over the country. But not where we lived! I don’t recall any great celebration really - I think people hung flags from their windows and I believe there was a bonfire in a local park. Although many local people had lost their lives during the conflict, our town had got off lightly when compared to the big cities, and perhaps we preferred to celebrate quietly in the company of our own friends and family.


This song brings back memories. The singer is either Kitty Masters or Phyllis Robbins, with Henry Hall’s Orchestra.




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