My friend over the road and I were talking yesterday about neighbourliness in wartime. The subject came up because we were remarking gratefully on the unfailing helpfulness of a nearby resident.
As a child, in West London, my friend had known everyone who lived in her street by name – and she recalled one day when she was playing cricket there with her friends. The stumps were the communal pig bin.
As part of the the war effort, household scraps were deposited in the bins to provide food for pigs. The bins were about the size of an old-fashioned metal dustbin and so provided a good target for the bowler. … Nevertheless they served their sporting purpose very well.
Children where I lived also played pig bin cricket. And where Mrs Llew lived, whose home was near the much-bombed Croydon airfield. ‘Who didn’t?’ she said.
My friend said that one day during the war, as a game was in progress, the father of one of the children rushed out and ordered them into an air raid shelter. As he did so he grabbed my neighbour by the waist and carried her bodily to safety, under his arm.
After the ‘All Clear’ my neighbour went home. Her mother told her: ‘I knew you’d be all right and that someone would look after you.’
I don’t know how to begin drawing the moral or morals of this happy little episode without appearing simplistic and unfair to the present and, maybe, the past.