In my last blog I talked mainly of the WW2 years, one aspect I did not really mention was that of food which was, like pretty well everything else, on ration. One food which wasn't was rabbit, these were sold by the green-grocer and were suspended from hooks from the top of the shop's window. At Christmas there were no turkeys but our parents did manage to get chickens (probably from a farm near to us) which we used to pluck in front of the fire. I remember one Christmas, when my mother was in a nursing home following the birth of my sister, my father won a goose in the work's raffle. Now whether it was my taste or his lack of culinary skills I don't know, but it was far too greasy for me, and I could not eat it. I cannot say who was more upset, me or my dad. It also provided us with what seemed to be a lifetime's supply of goose-grease for rubbing on our chests every time we were wheezy!
Rationing continued for years after the war, but in 1949 they first took sweets off ration, a day all us kids looked forward to with great anticipation. Unfortunately supply was nowhere near enough to meet the demand, and few of us managed to get any, I still think that the adults nicked them! So they were rapidly put back on ration until 1953 when rationing was abolished.
At the top of the road where I lived was a large field, on the right there was a cotton mill, and on the far side the Bridgewater Canal with the Royal Ordnance Factory on the other side. On this field there was a least one barrage balloon with the associated anti-aircraft guns and soldiers. Although we were not allowed on the field, great fun could be had wriggling under the wire fence and being chased off!
I spent VE celebrations at my aunty's in St. Helens where they had a big bonfire, and then for VJ day we had a street party at home. It was a great year for the kids, it was like having three Christmases in one year! After this time we started to have regular visits into Manchester, and saw the many bombsites for the first time. Often, on these were street entertainers, many of whom I suspect were ex-servicemen. In particular I remember one man who put a slab of concrete across his chest whilst a colleague smashed it with a sledgehammer.
At the time I was 12 yrs old there was still a fuel shortage and an uncle had a business providing peat for burning on house fires. On Friday evenings and Saturday mornings my father linked up with him to set up sales and delivery rounds near where we lived, and I was enlisted to help. This was my first introduction to the working life! I continued with this work until I was about fifteen when I found a part time job with more pay - although fifteen years of age was the official school leaving age, I was still a pupil. At home there was something of a strained atmosphere for a while!
In 1953 I was on a train going for a day out to Blackpool, when I read in the newspaper that the Korean War was over. Joined with the ascent of Everest and the Queen's Coronation this made for a momentous year, but what struck me most was that this was the first time since just after I was born that the UK was not involved in a major war. It is nice to say that since 1945 I have not experienced England being bombed, although since I was a regular visitor to Northern Ireland between 1971 to 1980, it was not the last time when I heard bombs going off. I do not wish to hear that noise again!
© Ron Ferguson 2011