Saturday, August 1, 2009

Social History; Life in the Countryside during WWII

About 4 years ago, young Jacob was sent home with a worksheet from which he was to select a homework project to do over the holidays. Now generally I'm inclined to think these projects are a complete nightmare and should be retitled "Parent's Homework" - or even better "Parent's Headache" because it's usually mum or dad who ends up building some hideous monstrosity out of paper mache and tinfoil.

However, on this particular occasion, one of the challenges was to interview an elderly person about their childhood during World War II. Now a project that required no glue or paint was quite revolutionary and rather appealing to a weary mum like myself so as my mother was coming to stay for a few days I decided to ask her to tell a few stories about her youth into an old cassette recorder. (I should point out that I don't think mum was that keen on being described as "elderly" but nevertheless after a glass of wine she didn't put up too much resistance.)

Well as it happens Master Jacob couldn't speak loud enough so I took over (see I told you it was my homework!) and eventually after lots of umming and ahhing and a lot of giggles my mum and I succeeded in producing a recording of truly amateurish proportions. Yep, I mean really, really bad. I think it would be safe to say I haven't got a future as a radio presenter. Oh well! However, as it turned out, the tape was the only one sent into school (the other mums sticking to the tried and tested formulas) and proved a big hit with the school children who loved some of my mum's descriptions, particularly about food.

Well after much fiddling about (and I mean so much so that I've had to resort to alcohol to calm my nerves) I've eventually managed to transfer the tape, edit some of the long pauses and produce something I hope will be of interest to social historians. I've also uploaded it to an archive site where I hope it will stay as a little permanent record of life during The War. I'm afraid, at best, it's still a pretty amateurish recording - but hey, I gave it my best shot!

So here it is. A little piece of history. I hope you can play it, although if you can't it's possible you maybe able to do so by uploading Quick Time media player.

Finally, as I'm sure some of you will remember, my mother died unexpectedly last year so I guess this little keepsake has become something really rather special - and I have to admit that, just for once, I'm glad I did my homework.

NB; The recording is approximately 13 minutes long.


  1. That was an eight day hangover, Mrs T, from 'Drunken Ramblings' to 'Social Commentary'. Good to see you back; will now kick back (with a glass of something) and listen to the tape.

  2. What can I say PB? I'm a strange one! No telling what's coming next; I just fly by the seat of my pants!

  3. Am I being thick? Where's the link to the audio? (Have had wine so may be being dense...)

  4. As you were - it's appeared now.
    She sounds like you! Same inflections. Hardly surprising I suppose!

    As for elderly - I hate it when you are reading a newspaper story by some cub reporter about "an elderly person" who on further reading turned out to be about 60...

  5. Boozing Miss Hyde? Now, now remember the night is young!

    Yes, there were quite a lot of similarities in our voices - although because I was too near the microphone that isn't quite so evident in this recording. My laughter I think was/is slightly more raucous though:))

    Yeah, those cub reporters know how to make one feel ancient! But I remember when I thought 40 was old.... and now....

  6. Fascinating. Mrs T. Very interesting and a great record to have. Cheers.

  7. Love the new blog appearance Mrs T. Especially the legs - although i would have opted for another female part as the background. So how the hell do i listen to this tape?

  8. Thanks PB - yes a lovely keepsake.

    Gary... now I know you'd rather see breasts than legs but this is a the blog of a sophisticated lady you know not a page three girl:))

    Now go down to the bottom of the post and there's a grey line which looks like ..... a grey line. At the start of the line there is a microphone and an your mouse on the arrow and it should start to play!!! Amazing!!!!

    Gez, do I have to explain everything? You do know how to unzip your flies Gary don't you?!

    Okay, if it's not playing try using this;

  9. Truly a great piece of history. Wonderful job, you've missed your calling. You should be on the other side of a "Microphone." I so glad you were able to preserve this and worked so hard to upload it so that you could share it with us. I've got one question for you - Where did all of those American G.I.'s get those silk stockings? And why did they carry them around in their backpacks? :) Remarkable! :)

  10. Now Mr I that is very generous comment from you regarding a possible career (if somewhat delusional.) - Alas, I feel I have more chance of being behind the fishcounter at Walmart than behind the microphone. But the thought is appreciated:))

    Now about those stockings. Mr I, did you not know the GI's are postively infamous for carrying stockings! How else do you think they charmed the knickers off sweet English Roses?! Did you think it was the sexy accent and the extra large tanks? I'm afraid 'tis well documented that there were many a liason between young American GIs and young English ladies. Chewing gum and stockings....when times are hard it doesn't take much to impress a girl!!

    Ps - did you know Wrigleys now do chocolate flavoured chewing gum - a sure fire winner:)

  11. mmmm. I need speakers, don't I? I shall investigate:)

  12. Jane, what and interesting memory--from the point of view of a child--and as you say, a lovely keepsake of your mother. i have heard stories from my parents about the war, though, my parents were older (they were married in 1938). I wish I had recorded/noted some of them down.

  13. Ah yes, Gary. Speakers are required. Alternatively, attach a plastic cup and string to your PC and send me the other end:))))


    Yes, it is lovely to have these memories. So much history is lost when someone dies if it is not recorded:( I only wish we had some of my father and my inlaws all of whom lived through The War.

    I hope your trip is going well:)


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