“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

They also served!


Over the next few days, on the run-up to Remembrance Sunday, we will be hearing plenty about the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces, especially during World War2 - and rightly so. The whole thing certainly has less resonance now. There are fewer old sweats left alive and fewer families of the fallen for whom Remembrance Sunday offered some crumbs of comfort. If you doubt all this, the next time you watch that grainy old footage of the troops storming up the Normandy beaches ask yourself what would have happened if they had failed - if those young boys had been pushed back into the sea. Hitler's version of a united Europe make today's concerns over euros and drachmas seem trivial by comparison.
But, for Britain at least, the war was not all horror and sadness. the home front was throwing up all kinds of interesting stuff and I don't just mean the after effect of Woolton Pie. Even after digging for victory, collecting old saucepans and making wedding cakes out of spit and cardboard people had energy left to challenge many of the old social mores. As author Pip Granger remarks in her Up West - nothing loosens knicker elastic quite like knowing that a bomb might drop on you at any moment. For an alternative to the official sugar sweet girl next door image of Vera Lynn check out this Florence Desmond track. The real spirit of the blitz.

5 comments:

Gitane said...

My Mum is west end born and bred and used to sing a whole raft of bawdy war time songs, I actually knew the punch line "the deepest shelter in town". She had another favorite "I'm only a Shepherd's Bush Girl" which rhymes shilling with willing, and fiver with diver etc. I'd love to surprise her with a collection of this stuff, any help appreciated comrade!

Jemmy Hope said...

I wonder how many plays this got on the Reithian BBC?

ray said...

Gitane. Up West is a great read but check this out -
http://www.westendatwar.org.uk/category_idtxt__people.aspx

Gitane said...

Cheers Ray, i've ordered the book from the inter library loan service and with a bit more work with the music that's Queenie's Xmas box sorted. Martin Wright used to wear a t -shirt saying something like "don't ask google ask me" someone should get you one too!

Gitane said...

Mutualism don't you just love it when it happens!

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