The looting in streets of Britain made me think back to my own childhood.
Winter 1948, mother had two newspaper rounds, one in the morning, one in
the afternoon. The pay was low; good thing, she could take home unsold
papers which, was good for the fire. My older brother used to go out at night
with sink buckets, down to the coal depot, stealing. After he had been caught
twice he was sent to a youth correction centre. Winter of 1948 was hard,
but we had old furniture, mother had inherited from her father. It burnt well.
Spring, we only had an old sofa left, which I slept on, and two rickety chairs.
We were lucky, mother got a job cleaning the offices of a banana company that
imported bananas and cured them in the backrooms. Fruits that were black
we got and it was a life saver. Mother now had three jobs. It wasn’t enough.
She had to ask the social services and got coupons for jumpers and clogs.
All this took a heavy toll on mother’s health, she got tuberculosis and was sent
to a sanatorium. The family was split up. Except for my brother stealing coal
we never thought of looting shops, perhaps we should have, I liked a pair of
black leather clogs I saw displayed in a shop window, a spring day in 1948.