It makes a change

A year ago on Fathers Day I recounted how I had made several trips to Dadford (appropriate name) for one son and elsewhere before getting to the other son’s after five hours on the road. I ended saying that I hoped that perhaps next year (this year) would be different. I am pleased to say that it has been.

bananaNo dashing around the countryside. One son was firmly ensconced in Dadford and the other son and family turned up this morning with a grandbaby. About ten years ago I put a banana plant in our garden which flourished for a while producing various offshoots one of which I gave to my son. He planted it and tended it and wrapped it up each winter until he got caught out this last winter by an unexpected cold snap and we thought it had died. But this spring lots of new shoots appeared. Some of these he dug up and brought over to me – the grandchildren of my long gone banana plant. So we relaxed over a cup of coffee in the garden before they went off for lunch and we (well mainly Liz) turned our attention to a birthday cake for a 90 year old. I assist when required.

I also happened to have come across My memories of World War 2: A Child in Sunderland by Malcolm Nolan. He was born just before war broke out so much of what he recounted must have been told to him by his family. He describes the many bombing raids between June 1940 and May 1943 (as the biggest shipbuilding town in the world Sunderland was a prime target)  as well as talking about everyday life – the reliance on rabbit and horse meat; no fruit and vegetables only in season (no frozen food and very little tinned food); rationing; income tax at 10/- (50p) in the £; relocating from bomb damaged homes; clothes being worn until they were only fit for rags (when they might be made into rugs); milk in glass bottles and jam in glass jars all of which were reused; so little waste that there was not much more in the dustbin than ash from the fire; sleep interrupted by air raid sirens (on average once every four days) and nights spent in air raid shelters; no streetlights and blacked out windows so that the streets were totally dark at night (so the milky way would be clearly visible – these days I need to go to Northumberland or Narromine to see it); very few telephones so most communication was by letter or face to face and of course no television let alone tablets and internet just the radio. Puts life today into perspective.

It made me think about my own father and what life would have been like for him 75 years ago. At the outbreak of the second World War he was in his mid-twenties and had just joined the staff of what was Sunderland Technical College (now Sunderland University). He was in a reserved occupation so spent the war in Sunderland teaching by day and fire-watching by night. He only ever told me a little about this – one of his fellow fire-watchers became a well known actor and the morning after a raid they would count the number of craters. If there was an odd number it probably meant that what they thought was a crater from a small bomb was in fact the crater made by a much bigger bomb that hadn’t exploded. Of course my memories of my father were later on in Oxford in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s along with what he told me of his earlier life.

Meanwhile in the Upping the ante department things are progressing with 125 days to go until the Great South Run. A week ago they did a 3km 36 obstacle course – well actually my granddaughters and a load of their friends did the course and their parents ran alongside them so it doesn’t really count in the build up to The Run. However the week before they had completed the Summer WOLF run (10k with rest stops, I mean obstacles) and yesterday Carol and Toni ran their furthest yet – 8 miles – in a good time despite the hills.

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