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U3A Writing: The Calamities Of Food Rationing

Best not to have a pet dog about when sweets were rationed, as Marjorie Hicks recalls.

During the years 1942/3 rationing was very strict and the sweet ration was reduced to two ounces per week. Points were saved and, every two weeks, the agonising decision was made, whether to have sweets which lasted longer or chocolate which made your mouth water to think about it.

Unfortunately for me, I was an only child until nearly six years old, when my brother came onto the scene. I was brought up very strictly and any sweets I bought had to be shared with the other children with whom I was playing. In vain I protested that I would have none left. The order was 'if you didn't have enough sweets in the bag you didn't take sweets out'.

My brother was too young to understand and escaped these strictures; my mother having no nonsense about the equality of the sexes.

And so, having bought toffees with my precious ration, I sat down with a book and a bag of sweets. My brother sat near me, watching my every move. He, of course, had eaten his before I had even got home from school.

"Well, you're only having one," I said. "I have never yet had a sweet from you.'' Come to think of it, I don't think I ever did have a sweet from him. Derek, my brother, emigrated before rationing ended.

After giving Derek a toffee and sucking one slowly myself - trying to make it last as long as I could - I was suddenly conscious of a wet muzzle on my knee. There was Bruno, our Labrador, dribbling onto my knee, his soulful brown eyes looking beseechingly at me.

I buried myself in my book. I wouldn't even raise my eyes but, oh, has anyone succeeded in ignoring a dog who wants your sweet? I grimly sucked a little longer but the pleasure had all gone. I beseeched my mother to let him stay in the kitchen, with no success. I gave up and took the sweet from my mouth and gave it to him.

Bruno was delighted. The toffee stuck to his teeth and kept him occupied for a while and then, with a look at me to make sure I wasn't eating, he flopped down in front of the fire and appeared to go to sleep.

I was so careful opening the bag for another sweet. I made sure I didn't rustle the paper bag and kept my eyes firmly on my book. I hadn't even got the sweet into my mouth when, as before, Bruno stood in front of me tail sweeping from side to side, his eyes looking expectantly at me.

I tried again to ignore him. His muzzle dropped on my knee - his eyes showing his hurt.

He got my toffee, with me telling him loudly that, as from now, there were "no more sweets". Bruno wagged his tail and attempted to lick me. The family pet knew a "sucker" when he saw, or heard, one!

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