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Change and progress in the post-war years

Updated Thursday 28th May 2009

Diarist Linton Andrews observes how women refused to relinquish the new roles they developed during the Second World War; and the impact of rationing.

During the Second World War, women played an important part in Britain’s wartime economy, but they were still expected to fulfil their traditional roles. Despite changes in attitudes, Linton Andrews unexpectedly came across an example of how slowly such changes were coming for some women.

Audio

Copyright BBC

Text

LINTON ANDREWS
I came back to attend the Lord Mayor’s dinner for the Assize judges and sat next to a Lady Pearson, wife of one of the judges. She told me she had no television and no radio: housework with no maid took up nearly all her time. Her husband, who’d been seated elsewhere, came around the table to collect her at the finish. Meeting her made me think my life and Pinkie’s is much more colourful.

PINKIE
Well, I hope you didn’t say so.

LINTON ANDREWS
No, of course not but it’s true. Women ought to want more than that.

PINKIE
And they do – the younger ones. Things are changing. You should write something about it in your column.

LINTON ANDREWS
No. Right now people are more concerned with shortages of food than with the lives of the women who cook it. Have we any aspirin? I’ve still some letters to write.

Extract from Sir Linton Andrews' diary Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team from Writing the Century Series 9 Web content.pdf

Rationing

During the 1950s, rationing had gradually been eased, and by Christmas 1954, food rationing was finally over. Although not directly referred to in his diary, a reference to this is introduced by the dramatist.

Sir Linton Andrews' entry for 26 December 1954 indicates it was a difficult time for his German maid, Renata. Conditions in West Germany had improved with the introduction of the Marshall Plan, which provided aid for the redevelopment of Europe. Consequently, while rationing had ceased in West Germany, conditions were only slowly improving.

Audio

Copyright BBC

Text

ALL
(SINGING) For auld lang syne my dear...

PINKIE
Now, Renate, lets take the desserts through.

LINTON ANDREWS
People need their glasses re-charging. Where’s the...?

PINKIE
Over there. Renata, you bring the trifle.

RENATA
What is in this trifle?

PINKIE
Renate!

RENATA
Sorry. I mean, what is in this trifle please.

PINKIE
Fruit and nuts and cream and sponge cake. Thank heavens for the end of rationing at last.

RENATA
And this is because he is now a lord?

LINTON ANDREWS
Not a lord, Renata. I was knighted, not ennobled.

PINKIE
But he’s still hoping for the rest! No, it’s the end of all rationing for everyone, Renata.

RENATA
But not in Germany. Before the war we would eat such things: gingerbread, stollen but not any more. It is no good.

PINKIE
It will all change soon, you’ll see.

LINTON ANDREWS
January 2nd 1955. We enjoyed a splendid Hogmanay gathering here at Grey Garth on New Year’s Eve, and Renata proved herself an able and willing helper. Several of our guests pleased her by talking German. She is increasing in self-confidence and gentleness. At Christmas we gave her several presents including a dressing gown, money, a German novel and chocolates and she said it was ten years since she had so many.

 

Extract from Sir Linton Andrews' diary Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team from Writing the Century Series 9 Web content.pdf
 

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