Oftentimes after a cup of tea (-enema) and a glass of fortified milk (oral) I am compelled by virtue of endemic concussion to dwell on my past.
The past, as many will tell you, is a foreign country. Naturally for a proud white person like myself this makes it a particularly distasteful prospect. However, when you get there – it’s a little like New Zealand in this respect – it doesn’t look that foreign really. In fact, everything is remarkably familiar, only they call thongs jandals, which makes one want to puke with the strangeness of it all.
I was born in 1924 and so I was just a little girl when the stock exchange crashed. I remember clapping my hands with glee as bankers jumped out of windows everywhere; it was as fine and frolicsome as Empire Day!
We made our own fun then. One thing that I have noticed about young people today is that they are always going off to doofs. In my day, we didn’t go to doofs – the doofs came to us! I remember our local doofmeister, a wizened, gypseyesque character who we knew only as Professor Jandal. He had an enormous dooforgan, which took two days to set up and was entirely portable. He would come to your bridge night or tea party and set up in the corner with only his eleven children for assistance. The bellows themselves were twice as big as Henry’s. We all popped Es an hour before and none of your waiting for anything to ‘happen’, because these were quick e’s!
Many people assume that we in the 1930s were terribly straight-laced. Perish the thought! I had some of the curliest laces around, and my friend Peggy had, well, let’s just say she also did not have straight laces at all one bit. We were laced entirely from top to toe, and the last one went through the nose.
Once the fire in the doofmeister got started and the huge tumblers began spinning, the bellows would rise and fall and the doofing would begin! I must admit once or twice I quite lost control, even at one stage jingling my pearls! My saintly mother saw me from the upstairs window, fortunately, and felled me with a slug; I was confined to bed for two years thereafter, and thankful for it. I had seen that awful Winston Churchill eyeing me off earlier in the evening and had not relished the prospect of submitting to his ghastly jittery pawings.
It was the boys you had to worry about, then. They were always at you for a toggle or a winny (these were words we used for what I gather are still quite common sexual practices amongst the sensual and/or capacious) with all that ‘oh, Grace, they’re about to send me off to the front and I’ve never had ‘un’ or ‘oh, Grace, adjust me monocle… ooh, did you know that was goin’ ter happen?’ and so on. The boys in our village used to spend a lot of time hanging around the local beer sign – I suppose they thought it was ‘cool’ – doing something they called ‘bird-watching’. Before you knew it they’d be frotting away with each other and had stopped watching the birds altogether, leaving the birds to get down to that ghastly thing the bees always got involved in. Now, I believe, with the bee shortage it’s done with flies and rabbits, and the outcome is just as problematic.
How babies were made was, naturally, a complete mystery to us girls in those days, and once when that awful Dr. Jenner tried to show me a diagram of some sexual tonsils I had a fainting fit and was prescribed to become an alcoholic for the next four years. When the priest told us the ‘stork’ was responsible for babies I naturally assumed he meant a penis and the hilarity, and confusion, thereafter was quite hilariously confusing I can tell you! Luckily, the maid brought in some jam fancies and the Count put his pants back on behind the silver tray.
We had no such thing as birth control in those days; if you became, as they say, ‘with child’, you just held it in. I kept my one duff upped, so to speak, for six years until 1946, when something Lord Haw-Haw said on the radio made me laugh, and I dropped me bundle. Fortunately I was wearing underpants at the time and Lord Alfred Douglas – he was round for tea at just that very moment – took the hairy little lad and raised him as his own. I soon forgot the entire incident and in fact if you asked me about it now I would deny it entirely. Didn’t happen. It was all Winston’s fault.