The Way We Were with John Taylor: Going bananas at the end of the war

These are some bananas
These are some bananas

Yes, Christmas
approacheth, and a time to worship the great god Mammon.

As a prelude we’ve just had Black Friday, an American import (like trick-or-treating) for which we can all be truly thankful - an opportunity to store up treasures on Earth by kicking, shoving, pushing and swearing in the season of peace and goodwill.

But this column is about a time of rationing and austerity when in 1945, during the 
closing stages of the Second World War, Bletchley was fortunate enough to obtain a share of the Christmas puddings sent as a gift by South Africa.

In fact, Bletchley had been picked at random, with pudding preference given to local residents aged 80-plus.

Among the 72 residents were 96-year-old Elizabeth Collier, of 11 Railway Terrace. Another was Mrs B Bates, of 32 Church Street, who received one of the 100,000 parcels of butter, bacon and cheese, which was sent to Britain by the women of Denmark in 
appreciation for the liberation of their country.

By now a further consignment had arrived from South Africa - ten 25lb cases of sultanas, whilst on March 5, a lorry loaded with bananas (mostly green!) drew up at the Westfield Road depot of Messrs RW Johnson & Sons. These were the first available in the town since the beginning of the war, and children who had never seen one before gasped in amazement.

Unfortunately, when the bananas were distributed many youngsters were less impressed, and despite their mothers queued for hours “some frankly ejected the first mouthful”.

As for apples, according to an answer given in the House of Commons, Bletchley 
became one of the first areas in London and the south east to receive an allocation.

And so, my little Christmas puddings, perhaps it is now time to reflect on the past 
sacrifice and hard-won freedoms that have made these days of abundance 
possible.