In 1947 my mum kept a diary in which she wrote short entries every day for about six months.
Many of the entries are so short they make perfect tweets (i.e. each entry is written in less than 140 characters, the Twitter maximum for every post.)
Some while ago I wrote a blogpost about my mum being a Twitter natural and in 2017 I'm planning to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the diary by tweeting it every day.
If you're interested in writing a family history on Twitter follow this link to @1947Diary. The first diary tweet will be on December 31st.
1947: what a year!
As well as the on-going post-war trauma there would be the worst winter weather of the twentieth century to contend with; there would be rationing of petrol, potatoes, bread and just about everything else; there would be power cuts and make-do-and-mend. But there would be, very shortly, the nationalisation of the coal mining, rail and other industries and the birth of the National Health Service and the Welfare State. The “Cold War” would start and there would be the inauguration of the CIA; the violent birth of independent India and Pakistan would take place along with the partition of Palestine; the deaths of Al Capone and Henry Ford would be announced; the Marshall Plan would be created by the USA to try and improve the situation in post-war Europe; there would be a Royal Engagement quickly followed by a Royal Wedding; the “New Look” would be created by Christian Dior in Paris while “Utility” furniture would be the best that most people could hope to buy.
My mum died many years ago when she was in her fifties but it's fascinating to read her adolescent diary entries which recorded the usual teenage preoccupations: clothes; hair; family; friends; and boys. However what the diary also inadvertently contains are insights into the post–war era that has come to be known as Austerity Britain.
I was struck by what my mum had written on 9th February 1947: “Snow! Potatoes very short.” I thought this encapsulated everything I knew about that period: terrible winter weather and food in short supply. In fact when I started looking into this, 1947 was the worst winter in Britain ever recorded up until then; and not only was food in short supply it was actually being rationed even more than it had been during World War II.
Another entry that intrigued me was written on 4th January 1947: “Went to Leeds and got some smashing cool-ee joyce shoes.” I could not imagine what cool-ee joyce shoes were but eventually managed to find out that they were a range of very stylish footwear imported from the USA that were all the fashion at the time and highly prized.
On 25th February Doreen wrote: “Stayed in at night and started re-knitting old jumper.” This reminded me of the famous phrase from the 1940s “Make Do and Mend” which has had quite a revival in recent years; clearly Doreen had learned the lesson well!
When I was writing Cabbage and Semolina I remembered how mum was still re-knitting old wool when we were children:
Mum sewed dresses for winter and for summer; shorts for going on holiday; and blouses for school. She knitted cardigans, jumpers, gloves, scarves; hats; even a woolly swimsuit.
Note: no trousers. Girls didn't wear trousers in those days.
We had new best clothes for Christmas and new best clothes at Whitsun; and then the old best clothes became our school clothes. It wasn't that it was make-do-and-mend anymore: it's just that the habits of the wartime years had stuck with our mum. She would still make us unravel an old jumper and re-wind the wool so she could knit it up again.
Thanks for reading my blog today. Click here to read more about my mum's 1947 Diary and here to follow @1947Diary on Twitter.
I added some 1976 wedding cards to my archives some while ago.
This is one of my favourites. Really typical of the 70s.
Click here to see some more wedding cards.
The 1976 cards were sent to Michael and me. We've recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary when we dug out the wedding photos and enjoyed several walks down Memory Lane.
The summer of 1976 was one of the UK's most memorable heat waves.
The hot weather started in mid-June and lasted until the end of August. It included 15 consecutive days where a maximum temperature of 32C or more was recorded somewhere in the UK. It was one of the most prolonged heat waves within living memory and it lead to a severe drought.
Below average rainfall was recorded from May 1975 to August 1976 making summer 1976 (June, July, August) the 2nd driest summer on record (dating back to 1910) behind 1995.
Parts of the south west went 45 days without any rain in July and August. The hot, dry weather affected domestic water supplies leading to widespread water rationing and queuing for water at standpipes in the street.
The National Water Council took out full page ads in newspapers on how to 'beat the drought' advising steps such as only taking a bath if absolutely necessary and using no more than five inches of water.
As crops failed and food prices subsequently increased, a Drought Act was passed by the government and plans to tanker water in from abroad were discussed. Heath and forest fires broke out in parts of southern England, with 50,000 trees being destroyed in Dorset alone. Massive swarms of seven-spotted ladybirds occurred across the country, with the British Entomological and Natural History Society estimating that by late July 23.65 billion of them were swarming across the southern and eastern coasts of England. The population explosion occurred because a warm spring had meant there were many aphids, the ladybirds' food prey; as the hot weather dried the plants on which the aphids fed, the aphid populations collapsed, causing the ladybirds to swarm to try to find food elsewhere.
The drought broke in the last week of August shortly after the appointment of Dennis Howells as the government Minister for Drought with severe thunderstorms bringing rain to some places for the first time in weeks. September and October 1976 were both very wet months.
Michael and I were married on the last Saturday in July. The sky was a cloudless, vivid blue until half an hour before the ceremony when a freak shower dampened the dust and freshened the roses beside the path to the church. Otherwise everything went to plan and we had a lovely wedding day.
Recently some new readers have posted reviews of our books. It's always lovely to know that the books have been enjoyed and we really appreciate the reviews.
Cabbage and Semolina
Jam for Tea
A Single To Filey
There's more information about all our books (some of which are now available in paperback as well as ebook format) on our Amazon author pages.
FAMILY TREE PAGE
I've been trying to build a family tree page for ages and not getting very far. So this week I've scrapped the old one and started again. I've put in a section for our grandparents first and I'm planning over the winter to collect the documents I've got for each individual, scan them and add them to the respective pages. Hopefully this will be a more successful approach than the last one. Watch this space!
mIf you've looked at my 1947 Diary Page you'll know I've got a diary kept by my mum in the first few months of that year. As 2017 is the 70th anniversary of the diary I'm planning to tweet the diary entries each day as written by my mum. As I wrote in one of my earlier blogposts, my mum would have been a twitter natural! See Twitter 1947 style. More details of my 1947 Diary Twitter project soon.
Thanks for visiting my website and reading my blog today.
All the best,
I'm a former primary school head teacher now enjoying family history, e-publishing and gardening. I'm the author of "Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood" and was delighted when the book became an Amazon 2015 bestseller in the Social History category. I'm the founder of Spurwing Ebooks which is at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com for book details and information about new releases and special offers. Details of my books are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/C.-Murray/e/B009R7CRVC and the other books I've published are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Murray/e/B007AQZMZK