Joe’s father had some chickens at the back of the house. He grew them thinking they would have the eggs and then they would have the chickens. But it turned out a disaster really because they got very fond of these chickens and they all had their own names - Lucy and Mabel and all these sort of names - and when they killed the first one none of them could eat it because they were so upset that he’d killed this chicken that they had looked after!
During the Second World War, we were all rationed and had to sign up with a greengrocer, the Co-op and the butcher to receive an allowance of food. We had just barely enough to live on. My mother and me exchanged different foods especially as she had more to feed in her house. I also worked extra days to earn more money for the family and was often given flour from the bakers Pimbleys where I worked. I baked bread and sometimes cakes with the extras. In addition, when I was training I was given anything left over from the shop. We were so grateful for the help.
There was very little on display. What they did have was sometimes concealed ‘under the counter’. There were no lights of course but what there were, were queues. Queues for everything. “If you see a queue outside the Co-op”, said my mother, “Join it. Find out what it is for later”. But there was no money for frills, even though there were no frills to buy. Clothes were rationed and furniture was basic and cheap. Surprisingly some lasted well and is still in use.There was a symbol, a stylised CC41, for this ‘utility’ produce with which we became familiar. Most did with peg rugs and knitted clothes. Even socks were knitted and re-knitted. Heels and elbows were darned. There was no room for pride. I remember having knitted swimming trunks which ‘collapsed’ when they got wet. If one dared to dive, one resurfaced knickerless!
After the Americans joined the War we were told to take a box into school. It was filled with cocoa, dried eggs and other things. I was eight before I knew what an egg looked like.
Mother used to make peg rugs because you couldn’t buy rugs or carpets. She used to cut up old coats and other clothes to make the rugs.
I can remember the dried egg, but I can’t say we were deprived of a lot of stuff. Although food was rationed and you could only have so much, I can’t say we felt deprived. When the fruit shop got a consignment of rabbits you had to queue up and get a rabbit and make ‘rabbit pie’. Sometimes there would be a consignment of oranges. Those were hard to get, and if you were a regular customer at that fruit shop you would get some ‘smuggled’ into your bag. Other people who were in the queue who didn’t go to that shop didn’t get any, but you would not let them see. We once went to a dance at the Carnegie Hall and the ‘spot prize’ was a banana, and you never saw any bananas in those days. I won this banana and it started going brown because I just kept it for it was something unusual!