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A personal tint on tough times
on 2 June 2013
This book provides an entertaining and pacey description of typical Lancashire life between the two World Wars, presented from a personal viewpoint. When reading it is easy to forget that it is less than 100 years since childhood mortality in northern England was similar to that in Africa today and the conditions of life were so lacking in the basic commodities we now take for granted: refrigeration, hot water and central heating, indoor toilets and a National Health Service. This book brings to life in both an informative and humorous manner not only the daily routines but also the vivid characters and the panoply of relationships in communities, stretching from the generous to the outright cruel: a golden era it was not.
My enthusiasm for the book was somewhat tempered by a tendency at times towards romanticising. I wonder if the author's departure to the United States hasn't introduced a degree of nostalgia into his descriptions and memories. Nevertheless, much of what he relates rings all too true and elements of this lifestyle persisted to some degree well into 1960's life in England, as you can see for example in Don McLean's photos of the period. Overall it is an enjoyable read, but don't take it too seriously.