The Blog

There had been a Daily Mail article on machine gunning children in the war

Jenny 80 from South London, a widow.  

How are you?

I’ve always been content with my lot. I’m accepting and grateful for what I have. Not that I didn't want more or try to achieve more but I appreciate things. The rest of my family are well off, I don’t envy them, I’ve never been jealous of other people. If I need it I’ll work for it.

What’s your most memorable experience?

Being that I’m eighty I have quite a few. There are a few tales from the war as you’d expect. I was six when the war broke out. My Nan lived where the the Young Vic is now - near Waterloo Station. There were frequent bombings; my Nan was part of the local community and when there was a warning they would all pile down into the basement of the local bakery, everyone was allocated a 'space', one time when she was down there with my Aunt she over heard her neighbours bitching and complaining, saying they were taking up too many spaces because they were fat. She got very upset (it wasn't all generosity of spirit as a lot of people seemed to think back in those days) so next time there was an air raid she decided not to go down - that decision saved her life. Everyone died that day, the shelter was blown to pieces and her neighbourhood was wiped out. I think there’s a memorial plaque outside the Young Vic.

Another time when I was seven, my Mum and Dad took me on a tram to Purley Downs, near Croydon. Whilst climbing the hill, we heard an aeroplane, we could see the bloke in the cockpit with his leather helmet, he gestured with his hand and he opened fire. The machine gun was spraying bullets everywhere, we were thrown to the ground. He missed us but could so easily have hit us. My Dad laid on top of me to protect me. It was just like you see in the films. There had been a Daily Mail article on machine gunning children in the war, it wasn't good for moral so no one talked about it -  it happened quite a lot. 

Tell me about your marriage...

I was thirty one when we got married but I knew my Husband long before then. He was a friend of my Dads and quite a bit older than me. He and my Dad worked together, then when my Dad got sick and had to give up work, Roy used to come and visit him. We were married for forty two years, we had a lot of common ground. We came from the same background. He died ten years ago.

What do you think about children? 

I had always been around illness growing up, two of my school friends had died from cancer. My Dad had atherosclerosis and in the end had to have his leg amputated. My Aunt died at thirty seven from diabetes. I couldn't see what the future held and I didn't want to bring a child into the world.