Monday, 28 December 2009

Women at War

Books and Banter

In April 2009 Doreen Peacock spoke about Women in Wartime.

Her presentation was a mixture of reminiscences, fact and poetry. She started with three poems based in wartime including Bernard M Jackson's "Short Trousers Days" and Eddie Coward's "Seven Spirits in Flight' about the loss on landing of a bomber crew.

Doreen's acting kept us entertained by using a wide range of props which she had hidden in a suitcase. She donned a large wrap over apron and showed us how the women did their hair using pipe cleaners and rags as curlers, before protecting it with a headscarf tied in a bow at the front.

She explained how children were sent to the shop each day to buy the newspaper - not any newspaper but the one with the most pages. This had many uses, not least being cut into squares to be hung by a piece of string through one corner for subsequent use as toilet paper in the privy at the bottom of the garden.

Alternative the pages from the paper were rolled up and made into 'sticks' for lighting the fire.

"Make do and mend," was wartime advice which Doreen illustrated by the patterns and home made clothes of the times. Pegged rugs, often know as 'proddies,' made from scraps of clothes started as bed covers in the winter before moving to the floor in the bedroom eventually progressing downstairs to the front (best) room, living room and the kitchen as they wore.

The role of women as bus conductors, factory workers, ATS and the Land Army were included as well. These reminiscences struck chords with many in the audience who were children at the time.

"Careless Talk Costs Lives," was another slogan that impacted on some women especially those whose husbands became members of Churchill's Last Resort. The reasons for their evening 'meetings' could not not even be divulged to their wives who probably thought they were just going down the pub.

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