Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Bluebirds Get A Good Thrashing For Cherry Picking

It was the Brighouse 1940s Weekend last weekend - a fun day out for all the family. I must confess I am as ambivalent as a doodle-bug about such events: whilst it is always good to see people on the street having a good time and celebrating history, the kaleidoscope of time can sometimes induce false memory syndrome. I do battle against the age-induced desire to be a miserable old curmudgeon - "let them try and manage without fresh eggs and boiled sweets for six years and see if they are still smiling then" - and welcome the desire to celebrate a time when we believed we were united by real hardship rather than divided by perceived challenges. If nothing else it got people out of their homes and it may have reminded just one or two people about what that titanic struggle was all about.

I was tempted to dip into an old copy of a local newspapers to try and compare myth and reality. In amongst the adverts for khaki knitting wool and recipes for Lord Woolton Pie, I came across this report of crime amidst the blackouts and bomb craters. So, back in the good old days, if you found kids misbehaving - as kids always have and always will misbehave - perhaps you didn't just give them a clip around the earhole. Perhaps you took 13 year old kids to court for pinching a bottle of pop or running off with a rare piece of brandy-snap. Perhaps you then threatened them with a "really good thrashing".

The problem with all this is that I am cherry-picking (and probably deserve a really good thrashing for it). Just as those who re-enact historical events choose to emphasise some aspects of life in the 1940s, maybe I was subconsciously combing the newspapers looking for evidence to prove that it wasn't all happy solidarity as we hung out our washing on the Siegfried Line.

And maybe it is not such a bad thing to remember the good and let the bad fade with time. So all together now, "There'll be bluebirds over, the white cliffs over Dover, tomorrow, just you wait and see ....."


  1. I was born a world away, while my dad worked for an aircraft manufacturer in Dallas, and all I remember is how wonderful it was to have metal in toys after the war was over. It really does sound like the Brits had a tough time for many years following WW II, and I am always glad to be educated about it.

  2. We must remember or do it again. It's something about being the top of the heap and being forced over the edge by the multitudes coming up from under. Water in a fountain, the old folks swept over the edge and the youngsters are left to reconstruct what they don't remember. I find myself becoming more curmudgeonly, and amused by it.

  3. Agnes looks like a beauty! I think I have joined you in the curmudgeon ranks:)


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...