The Auntie Doris Years: 1938

Peace in Our Time20 years after the end of the first war, and to listen to some people, you would have thought that another one was going to break out any minute, what with Hitler making Austria a part of Germany, invading Czechoslovakia, and making threatening noises about Poland. But it was all nonsense. The Prime Minister said so. He went to Berlin and signed an agreement with Hitler that September and came back waving a ruddy piece of paper which he assured everyone meant “Peace in our time” I heard him on the radio. He told everyone to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep. I did an’all. I was a bit gullible like that. Perhaps it would be a bit much for me to go on about Chamberlain being a ruddy Tory. He was, but the Government was a coalition in those days and there were people who agreed with him on both sides.

There were others who had tried to get the French and Americans to stand up to Hitler along with us, but they didn’t have the stomach for it at that point. Besides, there were plenty of influential people who still thought that Hitler wasn’t too much of a problem. He was 1938’s ‘Man of the Year’ according to the Time Magazine in New York (Mind you, they picked Stalin in 1939) and Lord Rothermere was a big fan. Rothermere was the editor of the Daily Mail, so it doesn’t really come a surprise that he was a personal friend of both Hitler and Mussolini, and had articles praising Nazi Germany, suggesting that it was about time someone stood up to the Jews, and praising the “immense benefits” his policies were “bestowing upon Germany”

They were nasty times, the 1930s. But some ruddy Tories would like to see them come back, austerity, no national health service or welfare rights an’all. Never mind starting a war against mainland Europe. Any road, for better or for worse, I believed Chamberlain. At least I got a few extra good night’s sleep without having to worry about another ruddy war. Little April was a lot more settled by then too. Bless her. She was talking and walking and singing and dancing, and a real bundle of joy. I know she was my little sister, but I never discouraged her when she started calling me Mamma Doris. I used to call her my little Shirley Temple. At least I did when my father was out of earshot. He didn’t have much time for her anyway. And I tried as best as I could to keep it that way. I didn’t want him nipping her chubby little legs to punish her over some silly thing like he used to do mine. He didn’t neither, and even to this day little April has never had to suffer with her veins the way I used to in later life. The best times were when it was just me, April and Mother. We were a proper little family, and it seemed we could face anything together. Even ruddy Hitler!

Auntie Doris’s Pop pick of 1938: “The Lambeth Walk” by Billy Cotton and his Orchestra. Even the King and queen got into it and shouted “Oi” in all the right places! But guess what! Hitler had it banned, and said that it was “Jewish mischief and animalistic hopping.” Sometimes that man could be so hurtful….

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