BNC Text D90

Museum Society meeting: Make-do and mend: Lecture/meeting. Sample containing about 4652 words speech recorded in public context

10 speakers recorded by respondent number C2

D90PS000 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
D90PS001 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
D90PS002 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
D90PS003 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
D90PS004 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
D90PS005 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
D90PS006 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
D90PS007 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
D90PS008 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
D90PS009 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified

1 recordings

  1. Tape 007902 recorded on 1991-09-04. LocationEssex: harlow () Activity: Lecture/meeting Club Talk

Undivided text

(D90PS000) [1] Ladies and gentlemen, we just before we get on with the second part of the meeting when erm, meeting erm I think I ought to tell you that erm one of our committee members died a very short while back.
[2] I don't know how many of you knew him.
[3] And that was Arthur Platon who died, died very suddenly.
[4] And the erm committee was represented at the funeral.
[5] And he'd been on our committee for I think it was about about three years was that right?
[6] And erm he'd er contributed quite a lot and so we were very s , it's a very sad loss.
[7] And erm, anyway, I'm, I'm sorry to have to tell you that but erm now we'll get on with the second half of the meeting.
[8] So Brenda.
(D90PS002) [9] Thank you.
[10] ... Well some of you have brought some erm interesting items along.
[11] Haven't had time to look at them all.
[12] erm I'm not going to keep you very long because I've nearly finished talking so erm when I've finished perhaps you would like to bring some of your things up and put them on the table and we can all have a look at them.
[13] ... And let's [...] make do and mend.
[14] [reading] Knitters unpicked old jumpers, washed or seamed the unravelled wool and reknitted it.
[15] The tops of knitted socks with warm toes and heels were unpicked and reknitted with stripes of contrasting wool.
[16] The wool saved was used to knit new toes and heels.
[17] The seams of badly fitting or misshapen woollens were unpicked and the garment washed and reblocked.
[18] Sleeves wearing thin at the elbows were shortened.
[19] Any spare balls of wool were pooled to make children's clothes or squares for patchwork blankets.
[20] Best way patterns produced some interesting variations on the knitted square [] .
[21] erm I found recently found a Bestway pattern book and this is one of the pa the war time patterns they produced which is sort of shell shaped squares for patchwork and it really looks very effective.
[22] I've I've got a knitting machine and I worked out how to do it on my knitting machine and made a cot blanket for my newest grandchild and it does really look very effective.
[23] So if anybody does patchwork knitting or makes blankets or anything for charity and they'd like to give me a ring any time, I could give you the pattern.
[24] ... [reading] Woollens that were too worn or felted to be unpicked were cut up to make hats, body warmers and bed socks to wear in the shelter.
[25] Patterns also appeared for snoods ... snoods, turbans, and berets.
[26] Anyone who could hold a pair of knitting needles was expected to knit socks, balaclava helmets and scarves for the fighting men [] .
[27] And here we have some of the erm patterns that appeared, patterns for women in the services, patterns for men and women, there's the balaclava helmet.
[28] ... And this is a child's [...] and bonnet to make out of an old felted woolly.
[29] I think it looks rather revolting.
[30] Sort of thing my mum used to make me and I hated.
(D90PS005) [31] At the age of nine we, the whole class, knitted gloves for themselves.
[32] And I can still remember the pattern.
[33] I know how to do the same pattern.
[34] I remember a little boy, I've got on a picture with me he was a very very poor child and he made the best gloves in the class and it was a real sort of accolade for him.
(D90PS002) [35] Well we, we, I remember [...] about your age and ... having to knit sea boot stockings with very very thick, white wool.
[36] And knitting needles that to my little fingers were like rolling pins you know and they were long and they got under my arms and I always used to have a tummy ache on knitting day cos I didn't want to go to school. ...
(D90PS003) [37] So that that was make do and mend knitting. ...
(D90PS007) [38] [reading] The winter of nineteen forty was extremely bad, in fact most people say that it was the worst winter of the war.
[39] People sleeping in shelters and cellars found them damp, dark and cold.
[40] Blitz tips in a December issue of Woman's Own suggested lighting a candle inside an inverted flower pot and standing an enamel jug mug of water on the top.
[41] This would take the chill off the shelter and provide hot water for a cup of tea in the morning.
[42] Other suggestions included using hot bricks as feet warmers and sewing newspaper inside your corsets.
[43] Between September nineteen forty one and June nineteen forty two, nearly two and a half million homes had been damaged or destroyed.
[44] Sixty percent of the population of London alone were made homeless and during the war there were sixty million changes of address.
[45] At the height of the B one and B two attacks in nineteen forty four, more than two hundred thousand homes per day were made unfit for habitation [] .
[46] erm this little map here ... shows a very small area of West Ham where I lived.
[47] And all these little spots ... denote some kind of bomb or landmine.
[48] And that is only within about ... two miles you know an area of about two miles square.
[49] So if you multiply that by the area of London plus all the other big cities that were damaged and the coastline.
(D90PS006) [50] They still find them quite frequently don't they?
(D90PS002) [51] Mm.
(D90PS006) [52] [...] building si building developers and they sort of stop because they've found another unexploded bomb.
(D90PS002) [53] Yes.
(D90PS004) [54] I went to my old school in West Ham recently to talk to the children there and er the master [...] to me that they've got a bomb trail.
[55] And that's part of the geography ...
(D90PS002) [56] Oh.
(D90PS004) [57] their course.
[58] They walk round from the school and they've got a map of the places where the bombs dropped so
(D90PS002) [59] Wh which school was that?
(D90PS004) [60] This was Home Road School now Cumberland School.
[61] But it's been demolished this year.
[62] That's in Plaistow.
[63] And er ... erm they saw me on the you know television programme and they asked me to go go to the school and
(D90PS002) [64] Oh yes.
(D90PS004) [65] talk to them about er pre-war period there and er I very much enjoyed it.
[66] [...] I got a lot of letters from the children there and which was very gratifying.
[67] The only difference they were very well written but they were signed you know Mohammed and [...] [laugh] which were names [...] I used to go there.
[68] I started nineteen eighteen [...]
(D90PS002) [69] Yes it's the s same school in West Ham that I went to too
(D90PS004) [70] I don't know whether other other places have have erm kept that as a part of the I don't know if it's in the national curriculum.
(D90PS002) [71] Yes.
[72] [laugh] . Any, well you'll be interested in there I've got my own personal bombs on there.
[73] The one that damaged the house in which we lived.
[74] ... [reading] between erm oh by the end of the war one in every three dwellings had been demolished.
[75] Millions of people throughout the country lived in buildings which were either due for demolition because they were unsafe, or had received only emergency repairs.
[76] Heating then was difficult owing to fuel rationing and erratic supplies of gas, electricity and water.
[77] Washing and cleaning also caused major problems as soap was rationed, scouring powder in short supply, and dusters, dishcloths and tablecloths were no longer being manufactured.
[78] Crushed eggshells were mixed with scouring agents to make them go further and pot scour scourers were made from old silk stockings crocheted into squares.
[79] A mixture of stale tea leaves and vinegar was used for washing floors and paintwork.
[80] Scraps of soap were saved, grated, moistened with a little oil and water and pressed into a block [] .
[81] And I had a catalogue the other day from a, an environmental erm agency it wasn't Greenpeace it was something like that [cough] that were ac actually now offering these soap savers that we used to have in the war to press your bits of soap into ... [reading] Magazines were full of tips for saving fuel.
[82] Lightbulbs would give out more light if they were washed every week in soapy water.
[83] Water tanks and pipes should be lagged with whatever material was available.
[84] Coal dust should be collected up into strong brown bags, dampened down and used as coal.
[85] Tin cans filled with a mixture of old tea leaves and coal dust gave a lovely glow and plenty of heat.
(D90PS004) [...]
(D90PS002) [86] Further economies could be made by using as few rooms as possible.
[87] Single people or couples living alone were encouraged to join a cookery pool, saving fuel by pooling rations and take it in turns to cook meals for other people in the group.
[88] Only five inches of water was allowed for baths.
[89] In nineteen forty two The Lady proudly announced that the president of the Board of Trade had cut his large bath towels in half and he hoped his sacrifice would be repeated all over the country [] .
(D90PS006) [90] Wasn't much fun [...] either. [laugh]
(D90PS007) [91] What about the British restaurant Brenda?
(D90PS002) [92] Yes that was, that was right erm ... there was a limit to how much you could spend as well wasn't there?
[93] Five shillings wasn't it that you could, no meals allowed if you ate out, you weren't allowed to spend more than five shillings.
[94] And the British restaurant was one, one and six wasn't it?
[95] You could have a complete meal for one and sixpence.
(D90PS007) [96] And that wasn't on rations was it?
(D90PS002) [97] No, no.
[98] You had to have what they gave you and it was pretty revolting from what I remember.
(D90PS006) [99] Do you remember Tommy Hanley's though, er comment.
[100] He goes into a restaurant and he says oh the waiter erm let me see the menu and he looks at the menu and said right, he said.
[101] The waiter said no all off oh send me the usual toast.
[102] Which is what often happened.
[103] All you could get would be toast [...]
(D90PS002) [104] Well I, I remember once going into er a British restaurant ... because it was my birthday and there was trifle ... on the menu and trifle was some sort of weird jelly thing that was thi instead of sponge it was stale bread ... and I think it was sort of stewed apple and mock cream but the fact that it it was my birthday and it was trifle you know I just sort of sat there like a queen but I think I'm sure that it tasted quite revolting.
[105] It looked horrible.
[106] And there used to be sort of a mush made from haricot beans too ... that people said were baked beans and they weren't it was just sort of white mushy erm white haricot beans with a sort of red colouring poured over the top.
[107] But I think you could you could have whatever you could eat for one and sixpence in the, in the British restaurant.
[108] Excuse me I've got ... not exactly hay-fever but I think I'm going to be sneezing for a few minutes. [noseblow]
(D90PS006) [109] Going back to the, the blitz when we were bombed out we erm had to during the day we lived in my aunt's house mother and father and me.
[110] So we had the dining room [...] and a lounge.
[111] And at night our bedroom was the grandstand of Walthamstow dogs st stadium.
[112] Underneath the grandstand.
(D90PS002) [113] Oh.
(D90PS006) [114] So I've often wondered how safe that was!
[115] I I don't think it was full.
[116] But it felt good.
[117] I mean there was a lot of concrete in it.
(D90PS002) [118] Oh we went I remember
(D90PS001) [119] So we all walked down the corner there we all had our beds round there everything was laid out.
(D90PS002) [120] Buildings.
[121] People used the underground and of course there were the, there were the erm Morrison shelters weren't there that you you had indoors.
(D90PS004) [122] Well if anybody wants to see one I've still got my my Morrison shelter.
[123] [...] ... Well it's got all the basic structure and half the top so if anyone's interested in seeing [...] shelter I've got
(D90PS006) [124] Where've you got that?
(D90PS004) [125] In my garage [laugh] .
[126] It's it's a marvellous work bench cos it's very [...]
(D90PS005) [127] Oh is that what you use it for?
(D90PS004) [128] We have used it in anger oh yes.
[129] It was used in anger because we were living near Sevenoaks when the V one was over the doodlebugs and er they positioned er one of these barrage balloons just near our house you see.
[130] And er ... one or two got caught up occasionally now and then so we did erm have to go underneath because I was earning too much to get a free one it cost me seven pounds ten and I've got the receipt for it.
[131] It is really my own it wasn't given by the government I paid for it.
[132] So I justify that one.
[133] I think [...]
(D90PS002) [134] [reading] Britain directed more of her resources towards the war effort than any other nation including Germany.
[135] Recycling of waste was essential and it was the housewives' job another job for her to salvage from her home such things as paper, bones, tin cans, old gramophone records, photographs and negatives, jam jars, rubber and rags.
[136] Each category had to be put in a different container and taken to a collection centre [] .
[137] ... And here we've got the pig club and the pig bin with its pig food.
(D90PS004) [138] Have you heard of the Tottenham pudding?
[139] Tottenham pudding.
[140] There was a campaign after the war to bring back Tottenham puddings they had somebody in Harlow who was
(D90PS002) [141] Well what was, what, what was Tottenham pudding then.
(D90PS004) [142] Tottenham pudding was a er a mixture, to, for feeding animals
(D90PS002) [143] Oh.
(D90PS004) [144] which was collected and
(D90PS005) [145] [...] pigs particularly wasn't it?
(D90PS004) [146] Pigs, yes.
[147] And er the ... it was a sort of for, I remember erm only a few years ago in Harlow we had a discussion group there was somebody there and I I think I've still got the piece about that.
[148] They erm wanted to bring it back cos they thought that this was excellent all this erm purpose erm nowadays [...]
(D90PS002) [149] Yes, well l think, I think so too
(D90PS005) [150] That's how Biss Brothers started out wasn't it?
[151] They used to collect the Tottenham pudding.
[152] Well they my parents used to have it you see cos they kept pigs
(D90PS004) [153] That's it.
(D90PS005) [154] and it was Bisses who used to bring round Tottenham pudding.
[155] Used to get deliveries of it for the pigs that's how they started up.
(D90PS004) [...]
(D90PS005) [156] They used to bring it round in metal things [...]
(D90PS004) [157] bring back Tottenham puddings
(D90PS005) [158] and my dad had you know the stuff he used to find in it cutlery all the tea towels and plates and everything else.
[159] It was, it was used used to be stuff from these restaurants and they weren't particular what they threw in it was all these knives and things [...] [laugh]
(D90PS002) [160] But we used to have these, these bins at the end of each road and we used to have to put any scrap or unwanted food in.
[161] And then we had this pig woman who, who erm who wore men's clothes and a big cap and she had a horse and cart.
[162] And she used to come round at night and collect this stuff.
[163] And it used to smell revolting.
(D90PS006) [164] I think probably that was probably London but in the north I lived on the north east coast in a very small town and some of I mean my memories are quite different in a way.
[165] I mean I remember the waste paper which was organized by the girl guides and the boy scouts in the town.
[166] erm ... very much that was the whole Sunday
(D90PS002) [167] Yeah.
(D90PS006) [...]
(D90PS002) [168] Yeah well as I say I I lived in the east end of London and that that's how it was done there but I dare say that other places organized it
(D90PS006) [169] It probably wasn't economic in the very small town you know probably you know I don't, I don't remember people keeping pigs but if it was collected it probably was collected by the bin at the back door.
(D90PS002) [170] Yeah.
(D90PS005) [171] Well it was understood that Bisses got most of theirs from restaurants, and all restaurants I think had to sort of hand over all their waste for the war or something.
(D90PS007) [172] That's what my, I say my father bred er pigs and supplied the Ministry of Food and I can remember that he had a contract to collect all the erm waste from schools in the area.
[173] But erm they say that he had used to go and collect it and that was what was fed to the pigs.
(D90PS002) [174] So as regards waste material [reading] fifteen tons of scrap metal would make one medium sized tank or two bombers.
[175] From nineteen forty a compulsory campaign deprived public parks, gardens and squares of their ornamental railings and private homes of their front gates and fences.
[176] All aluminium saucepans including those from Buckingham Palace here collected in July nineteen forty but unfortunately it was not of the right grade and so housewives then suffered for the rest of the war and having to cook with inferior pans.
[177] After Japan's entry into the war all imports of rubber from the far east were suspended.
[178] Woman's Own produced a rubber rhyme which sounds rather vulgar to encourage its readers to part with their old rubber corsets [] .
[179] I don't know if any of you are old enough to remember the sort of rubber corsets that were worn in those days.
[180] erm those of you who had mothers who were young in the twenties will probably recall seeing them because they were rather tubular almost like a rubber tube, with small holes punched in for circulation.
[181] And they were the sort of corsets that gave you the the straight boyish look that was necessary for the clothes of the twenties and the early thirties which were cut on the cross.
[182] And so a lot of women continued to wear these erm rubber garments.
[183] In fact on erm on one of the erm sheets that I've brought up there's a notice of how to repair them with bits of cycle inner tube.
[184] [laugh] . ... So the erm Woman's Own rubber rhyme erm begins [reading] Aahs for the runs and I modestly blush, aahs for the runs in your girdle.
[185] May I suggest if the thing is worn out it will help us to jump the last hurdle.
[186] ... Paper was collected in every form.
[187] It was desperately needed.
[188] In the first months of the war Herbert Morrison had requisitioned thousands of papier mache coffins for emergency use in bombing raids on London alone.
[189] One hundred tons of paper was needed in the planning and construction of a battle ship.
[190] Magazines and newspapers reduced the size and number of their pages, cinema, theatre, bus, tram and train tickets became small and flimsy.
[191] Used envelopes were recycled using stick on economy labels.
[192] Bank statements, cheque book stubs and private receipts could be returned to banks for shredding.
[193] And interesting but only interesting novels could be taken to the post office for distribution to the armed forces.
[194] Non fiction books and sheet music went for salvage.
[195] Very little wrapping paper or other packaging was allowed and paper bags and clean newspapers were carefully saved for shopping trips.
[196] Newspapers were also cut into squares and used for toilet paper.
[197] Butter and margarine papers were kept for greasing and lining cake tins etcetera [] and I still do it.
[198] And I still fold up my paper bags.
[199] ... [reading] Rags were more difficult to collect as housewives were putting scrap material to so many other uses.
[200] We're wearing them, one housewife remarked [] .
[201] This comment was not entirely facetious and this brings us back to the remarks I made earlier about erm the use of Tampax and the government trying to persuade women to erm use internal sanitary protection.
[202] [reading] Because of the shortage of raw materials the government was running a propaganda campaign to persuade women to wear tampons during menstruation.
[203] Tampax advertised a trial offer of two tampons in a box with an explanatory leaflet [] .
[204] Now the reason that erm they, they were trying to promote the use of tampons was that one couldn't get cotton to make cotton wool and so it wasn't possible any, any erm er erm sanitary garments that were made of cotton were commandeered and used for people in essential war work or the armed forces.
[205] And so there was this campaign to persuade women to change.
[206] [reading] Women who preferred who preferred traditional methods of sanitary protection either had to stand in long queues in order to buy just one or two towels [] you couldn't even buy a packet, you could just buy one or two [reading] or make do with other methods.
[207] One of the most common particularly in low socio-economic groups was squares of cle an rag which could be soaked, boiled and re-used.
[208] But when the make do and mend clubs were told that even worn out soft collars and shirt cuffs would make maps for tank commanders, they responded well and over a thousand tons of rag was collected between nineteen forty two and nineteen forty three.
[209] Bones were used for making explosives, glue and paint for aeroplane mark markings, and proved the most difficult of all to collect.
[210] The Ministry of Supply asked for any kind of bone except the backbone of a kipper.
[211] Housewives were told to hand them in after they had been used in the stock pot and fed to the dog, after, after which the bones were to be washed and dried in the oven after the gas and electricity had been turned off.
[212] Then they were to be put in a tin or other suitable container.
[213] In November nineteen thirty nine, the national savings campaign was set up.
[214] It was estimated that in August nineteen forty the war was costing between six and seven million pounds a day and that a great proportion of it must come from the savings of the people.
[215] Savings groups were formed all over the country and children ran their own campaigns in schools.
[216] There were also special savings weeks.
[217] By nineteen forty three individuals were putting aside almost one quarter of their disposable incomes.
[218] But it was always tempting to indulge in whatever small luxuries were available and people were constantly warned to be aware of the squanderbug [] .
[219] There he is up there, wanted for sabotage.
[220] He was a horrid little rat like creature and he had a big swastika on his stomach.
[221] And he was always persuading people to spend more money.
[222] You see there there he is telling this lady [reading] don't listen to her she runs a savings group, the squander bug works for Hitler.
[223] The squanderbug alias Hitler's pal, known to be at large in certain parts of the kingdom [] .
[224] So you had to be careful of him.
[225] [reading] So world war two ended with the surrender of Japan on the twelfth of December nineteen forty five.
[226] On the home front it was time to make new plans fo r the future.
[227] But for some people the austerity period which followed brought it even more years of deprivation and hardship than those of the war.
[228] They were bitterly cold winters, resulting in fuel restrictions and cuts in gas and electricity supplies.
[229] Some new foods were introduced including snook, a fish product from South South Africa, and whale meat.
[230] But in nineteen forty nine there was less meat available than in nineteen forty four.
[231] Bread was rationed in nineteen forty six and food and clothes rationing continued like make do and mend until well into the nineteen fifties [] .
[232] I conclude
(D90PS004) [233] [...] went through all the, all the motions of bread rationing but the last time er they, they cancelled it.
(D90PS002) [234] Did they?
(D90PS004) [235] So bread wasn't rationed although everybody er was allocated a bread ration
(D90PS002) [236] There was an allocation, yes.
(D90PS004) [237] According where you [...] although it didn't actually come into practice.
(D90PS002) [238] You didn't have coupons?
(D90PS004) [239] No, no.
[240] Unless anybody else can confirm that.
[241] It got right near it, but erm
(D90PS002) [242] Finally there's just the there's the famous dig for victory poster and er ... is your journey really necessary.
[243] And erm watch it all the things that one had to do to one's car if one was able to use a car in the blackout.
[244] Well thank you very much. [applause] .
(D90PS008) [245] I was in the army and you were thinking of a different country.
[246] Cos I was in the army we had good food and were away from all the bombing.
(D90PS002) [247] Uhuh.
(D90PS008) [248] And we went to Frinton of all places [...] and you could go to the chippie and get fish and chips and everything.
[249] It was a different war from, from what you're talking about.
(D90PS002) [250] Yes.
(D90PS004) [251] Several people were called up er they were, they were given a white feather [...] were given a white feather for exactly the reason that you mentioned [...]
(D90PS002) [252] [...] so they were going to have an easy time.
(D90PS004) [253] [...] .
[254] If you were in London erm you were called up give gave you gave you a white feather cos you were going in the army. [...] .
(D90PS009) [255] I missed most of the first war [...] with him actually.
[256] We didn't know it but we were together [...]
(D90PS008) [257] [...] Lancaster.
[258] I was up at Lancaster when Liverpool got it.
[259] I was at Liverpool in nineteen er forty one May.
[260] Er at Wood er Lord Wood, Wood Lord Wood you know the pie p person
(D90PS002) [261] Walton?
(D90PS008) [262] Yes Lord Walton, his home er when Liverpool got bombed and and the ship went up.
[263] And all we got was we slept through that.
[264] And then we came down to Frinton and Felixstowe when London [...] so.
[265] You know when people talk about the war we feel dreadful! [laugh]
(D90PS009) [266] Well there was one sad part [...] wasn't it that when I was on my in training during the [...] and the rockets and so [...] in classrooms and had a lecturer talking to us and erm this lad come in with a message from the teleprint and erm give it to the instructor, and he'd call a name and the chap would go out.
[267] Pretty horrible.
(D90PS002) [268] Yes.
(D90PS009) [269] Somebody from London that'd lost their family
(D90PS002) [270] Yes but it was, it was just like that when one went to school.
[271] And you went to school in the morning but never knew whether your house was going to be there when you got home for dinner or whether you'd still have a mum and dad and ...
(D90PS009) [272] I got er two letters actually.
[273] I got a letter to say dad was in hospital and we had a buzz bomb and it wasn't too bad and er don't worry.
[274] ... And I god so I dashed round, got a long weekend [...] it turned out to be marvellous.
[275] Came home ... and she said well what have you come home for?
[276] Says well dad's in hospital.
[277] Yes he had tummy trouble.
[278] And the first letter told me that he'd got stomach ... upset.
[279] The second letter told me so I thought they'd been bombed out.
(D90PS002) [280] Er one of my worst experiences actually was going to school and found that when we walk when I went into the classroom there was only me and two other children.
[281] And the rest of the children had been killed in the night.
[282] They they all lived in in a small area that had been completely bombed.
[283] They were just three of us.
(D90PS004) [...]
(D90PS002) [284] No no no that was in erm near the docks erm in West Ham, Stratford way, yes.
(D90PS004) [285] Yes.
[286] The Hawsfield Road is er is er three hundred and fifty people.
(D90PS002) [287] Yes.
(D90PS004) [288] Children, erm.
(D90PS002) [289] You might like to look at the erm ... the West Ham bombing map.
(D90PS000) [290] Well I'm afraid ladies and gentlemen we're going to have to stop now, rather reluctantly.
[291] Thank you very much [...] really interesting.
(D90PS002) [292] Thank you.
(D90PS000) [293] and it's [...] very interesting reminiscences from people in the audience.
[294] Thank you very much indeed.
(D90PS002) [295] And I'll see you again [...] [applause] .