Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: 4th July - Variations on the theme ...

04 July 2005

4th July - Variations on the theme ...

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As the whole wide world and his dog knows, today the United States of America eagerly celebrates 4th July - Independence Day.

What's not nearly as widely known nor well remembered, is that the United Kingdom has it's own very good reason to celebrate the same date. For it was on this day in 1954 when 14 years of food-rationing finally finished - having been introduced on 26th July 1942, during those dark days of WW2.

How many here, I wonder, remember the years of rationing as clearly as This Old Brit does? Perhaps some would rather not say for fear of giving their age away. Heh. Ain't vanity a virtue?

Here's how the BBC reported, 51 years ago today, the nationwide UK derationing celebrations.

1954: Housewives celebrate end of rationing.

Fourteen years of food rationing in Britain ended at midnight when restrictions on the sale and purchase of meat and bacon were lifted.

Members of the London Housewives' Association held a special ceremony in London's Trafalgar Square to mark Derationing Day.

I wonder how many times the more senior among us have told our children - and our grandchildren - things like: "You don't know the meaning of hardship." Or maybe: "You've got things easy these days." And, especially this particular old favourite: "When I was your age .......".

Ha! I'll wager most of This Old Brit's younger readers find exactly the same phrases every bit as familar. Right, guys? Indeed, I'm willing to bet that right now the sound of many bells are ringing just about everywhere. No?

However, then just as now, good news always seemed to be tempered by some not so good news. As shown in the next BBC clip & paste, for example.

Butchers are predicting meat prices will soar for the next couple of weeks ...

Like Perry Como crooned - memories are made of this - eh? But as for those times being 'the good old days'? This Old Brit thinks not; most definitely not.

Whilst not in any way wanting to seem a grumpy old party-pooper, I happen to believe that it would behold us all, to pause from our respective celebrations for a moment - and ponder.

Ponder upon why, even now, after so much sacrifice, deprivation and suffering by so many people throughout the world , many millions still struggle daily in similarly sad situations.

As I write, already five and a half years into the 21st century, two thirds of our planet's people still go hungry; to the point of actual starvation in many, many cases.

Even with food ration books, life wouldn't become any less miserable for these poor souls. Because, people can't eat ration books.

Promises won't feed anyone, either. Be they made by Blair, Bush or the alleged great & good of the posturing and dubious, gents of G8. Incidentally, I use the words posturing & dubious, advisedly.

Consider the very recent self righteous, personal and pompus trumpet blowing of George Bush. What a pity most people don't realise that all the extra aid he's been bragging about giving where it's needed - isn't quite what it seems to be. What he's actually giving - is no more than a promise. A promise that by the year 2010, he will have delivered on that promise.

This Old Brit says: "Promises cost nothing, and G.W. Bush promises are worth even less than that."

So, while it is nice to celebrate, it's also important to contemplate. And then to take time to show some compassion - in measurably sincere and practical ways.

Now, whether it's to learn or reminisce, to wallow in nostalgia or simply to satisfy plain old curiosity - the BBC's rationing-related web site is well worth a visit. As is the rationing-picture site I've also provided a linked for .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I am one who remembers food rationing in America. It must have ended here years earlier than in Britain. In the early '40s we raised chickens and a large vegetable garden near the edge of town in Spokane Washington. We traded meat ration coupons for sugar coupons with the neighbors. Also shared the bounty from the veg. garden. Dad killed an old hen every so often so we always had good Sunday dinners. Mom always did lots of canning.

It was the gasoline rationing that had the highest impact on people's lives then in America, as I remember it. I was just a kid then in elementary school. But by 1954 I was grown up and married.

8:02 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Coupon trading was common here too, Rosemary. Can you believe we kept chickens too, in the stone paved back yard of our old terraced house. Though we did have a wooden hen house [and pigeon] which my dad built. Heh.

We had to get my old grandmother to come & kill one when we needed one, as we, as town rather than country dwellers, didn't have the stomach for the job. Heh.

12:06 pm  
Blogger Elaine Supkis said...

in Brooklyn during WWII lots of people had pigeon roosts on the rooftops of the brownstones and Victorian row houses. Even when I moved there in 1969, there were zillions of pigeons still on the roofs. Pigeon owners would set them loose to swirl around, sometimes in groups of several hundred from a dozen coops and then count them when they landed.

The winners were the ones with extra pigeons. They would place bets and even get in fist fights over this, (after drinking, of course).

Then they would go fishing. I used to buy fish from the guys at the corner bar. They would fish together and then go drinking and fight. They all gave me free fish if they were drunk enough (I was 20 years old, a mere lass).

3:02 am  
Blogger Richard said...

The pigeons my dad kept & bred were [homing] racing pigeons. As well as national races he used to enter them in international races too. The ones entered were regularly shipped off [by specialist transporters] to various contries throughout Western Europe.

Over the years he managed to win several trophies, cups, shields, medals, etc. Though the cash prizes were never very high.

2:01 pm  

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