When I was young, back in the Dark Ages, I used to spend weekends with my grandparents. Saturday afternoon was spent with my maternal grandparents, Nanny and Grampa. Sundays were spent with Nanna and Grandad, my paternal grandparents.
It was a time of playing in Nanny and Grampa’s garden or helping to harvest the vegetables or soft fruits; or walks on the beach with Nanna if the weather was fine. This, however, was Wales. The weather was frequently shocking, and we would need to stay indoors.
Weekend afternoon TV in the 70s and 80s seemed to be wall-to-wall black and white films. Thanks to West Wales’ unfortunate climate, I am pretty sure I have watched just about every Cary Grant, Fred and Ginger, and Second World War film ever made.
Terrible weather and film matinees also made for some rather marvellous stories of my grandparents’ past. How Grampa met Nanny when he lent her money for some Corn Silk Powder when they worked at the same factory. How Nanna was stuck, unceremoniously, into a rubbish bin by Len Bateman on a double-date (the other couple being her best friend and Grandad). And, of course, the war stories. Grampa was in the Navy, and saved the whole ship from sinking by plugging a torpedo hole with his bare hands. Grandad was in the Army, and taught Field Marshall Montgomery everything he knew, whilst seeing off the enemy single-handedly, armed with nothing but a tooth-pick and a tin of sardines.
As much as I loved my grandfathers’ hugely embroidered tales of bravery and derring-do (I swear they used to try and out-do each other with the most elaborate embellishments just to see our eyes widen in astonishment); I loved the stories from the Home Front just as much. So many stories of real life, of how my grandmothers managed with their young husbands fighting overseas. Stories of rationing, of air-raids, of streets being bombed, of friends being killed.
Fast forward seventy years and here we are, sitting in a warm house. The boys are playing Playstation, I am about to pop the dinner in the electric oven. Tonight we shall all have bath using the seemingly endless supply of hot water we have at the touch of a button. We have a choice about what to have for dinner tonight, and a cupboard full of food. We can pop to the shop later for chocolate, and wine; and if the boys dirty their uniforms, I can simply pop them in the washing machine, no bother at all. If clothes get damaged, no problem – we’ll just drive off to one of the multitude of well-appointed shops and buy new.
Our society, even in a time of ‘double-dip recession’ take so much for granted. Every time we throw away that bag of salad that is two days out of date (the one we didn’t use because we popped by the chippy instead), every time we jump in the shower ‘to pick ourselves up’, every time we pop a load of washing in the tumble-drier, or buy a new outfit to cheer ourselves up.
Imagine what it would be like to have very little choice in what you could eat. Shops with bare shelves; coupons for new clothes; strict rationing on household fuel to heat the home, cook food and heat water. How would your child react to only being able to have 12oz of sweets a month, not a day?
How would we manage on war rationing?
That’s what we intend to find out……..my children are going to love me, aren’t they?