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Waterlooville's Parish Magazine
St George's News

Ruby's Memoirs

Part 6 - The Thirties

I began to take a bit of notice of politics after the right of women to vote came in 1928 and the suffragettes had at last reached their goal of 'Votes for Women', but life went on in the same way and it was to be years and another war before there was any significant change.

So things continued and the wheels kept turning and everything about politics seemed so complicated. I decided it was not for me. Instead I threw myself into sport, tennis was a great game in those days, nothing like today and one could reach a good standard in the local club. Wimbledon gave encouragement for the game instead of an impossible goal. There were only grass courts in the early twenties but hard courts were soon on the way as they could be played on most of the year. Ice skating had become very popular and as there was a rink at Richmond we had lots of fun learning to skate and even to dance the waltz with the help of a partner so this became a weekly exercise.

The tango had arrived in the Ball Room, a dance that was thought very erotic! I also played hockey in the winter and we had weekly matches on Saturday afternoons and arrived back in London for a visit to one of Lyons Corner Houses for refreshment before returning home to get ready for whatever evening entertainment was on. Once I had a bad encounter with a hockey ball which hit me in the mouth. Some kindly man who was watching from his shop near the pitch dashed over and brought a lump of steak which he insisted I kept on my mouth until I got home as it would take the bruise out. I travelled home doing just that, everyone thought I had been attacked, I had really but only with a ball. I don't remember much about it so I don't think I could have been very badly hurt. I think the cure must have been quite efficient even though rather crude, but I was always reminded from the team by 'Have you brought your own steak this time?!'

Sundays were still observed by the family although church going was no longer a must but having been confirmed my sister and I usually went to early communion at seven o'clock as it left more time for other activities. Lunch was always at one o'clock but this was easy as we had to help in its preparation, and do the washing up afterwards before going out in the afternoon. A favourite jaunt on a fine day would be a walk to Richmond Park and through to Richmond Hill for tea at The Maids of Honour, a tea house reputed to have been in use in the reign of Henry VIII. On a wet day there was always a tea dance somewhere, often at the local Palais de Dance. Few cinemas were open, but they had special films for Sunday viewing. In London there was far more choice, wonderful cinemas showing epic films and very cosy cafés for tea but far more expensive than the local 'flea pits' as they were called.

Evening Service was at six o'clock but was not usually attended by children. I remember going to well known London Churches for Evensong such as St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square to listen to the sermons by the vicar known as 'Woodbine Willie' because of his kindness to the troops in the trenches during the war, also the Rev Tubby Clayton of the Church at the Tower Hamlets, who did such good work in the poorest parts of London, and also founded the Toc H Club for ex-service men, but he needed many helpers and being very persuasive giving such support to people who really needed it he got helpers from every walk of life. You never knew who you would be working with.

So the 1920's bubble burst with very little improvement in the struggle for equality. This was the dream it carried right into the thirties and one realised that it would never become a 'Land fit for heroes to live in'.

There was a slight sign of improvement in the middle of the thirties but then came the death of our King George V and the abdication of the heir, the Prince of Wales, Edward, after which peoples thoughts were turned away from the real troubles we were in to the rights and wrongs of this domestic strife. Perhaps we were a little more thoughtful but had no idea of what was to come in the near future although on hindsight it should have been abundantly clear.

Ruby Bullock
• to be continued.

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