"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Thursday 28 September 2017


Mike Meyers , comedy talk show host featured on Facebook this morning(Thursday) .He was 
televised at the Invictus Games  and spoke with pride of being  from a " military  family" . 

He expressed profound respect and gratitude to all the veterans participating in the games. 
Meyer's mother served with the Women's Royal Air Force. Father was  with the Royal Army Corp of Engineers. 

His own occupation ,he said with a dismissive hand gesture, is silly in contrast. 

I'm somewhat familiar with the entertainer's background. Our families came to Canada about
the same time, give or take a year. I brought two children. He was born in Scarborough ,Ont. 
in 1963.  

I watched an earlier interview where  he attributed his humour to his British background. I can easily 
buy that. Not so much, the bit about being from a military family or the art of humour  being  "silly" 

Mr. Meyer's mother and father served during World War 2 .

Everybody did. There wasn't a choice. That didn't make us military families in the North American 

Every able-bodied person who didn't work at a job essential to the war effort had to serve. Women were not conscripted but single women had to be either in a job related to the war, in the services or 
clumping  about in corduroy breeches, boots and wool sweater uniforms of the Women's Land Army. 

When Mike Meyers was born, his mother was an office supervisor, father an insurance agent and their  lives in military service were far behind them. 

At this time and in this place, a "military family" is an option people choose as a lifestyle. 

But it was his dismissal of the significance of his occupation, the link to his parents war service and connection to participants in the Invictus Games that made me stop and think. 

WW2 was my shared experience with his family. He and I think of it very differently. It's interesting because he only heard of it. I had  experience of  it.

It wasn't something happening 4,000 miles and an ocean away from our homes. For five years that tight little island was the battle front. No-one sat out the war. 

Mothers worked in munition plants and factories on shifts around the clock.Pre- schoolers lived in residential care centres from Sunday until Friday evening. In one facility, an outbreak of gastro-enteritis took the lives of twenty-one infants.  Those babies were casualties of war a much as any fallen soldier. 

Women of conscription age (18) were directed to war work and had to leave career jobs and in some instances,their homes. 

Rationing was severe. British Restaurants in prefabricated buildings  in community parks helped to augment rations below adequate nutrition level. 

Fish wasn't rationed. But some weird specimens were given new names and filleted to disguise their origin. One particularly ugly creature called "rock salmon" was previously known as dogfish.There 
was so much vertebrae, it was hard to find flesh of fish. Whale meat appeared, cut in cubes. 

People spoke of eating horsemeat. The black market was rife. Hoarding was an offence .That was funny since there was nothing to hoard.  

Women made clothes out of curtain drapery. 

Everyone had to carry a gas mask and identity card. 

The Home Guard patrolled streets every night in every town and village. Fines were imposed if a sliver of light showed because of a curtain not tightly closed. There were no street lights and street name signs were removed so that a would-be German invader wouldn't know what street he was on and would therefore get lost. 

Everybody was encouraged to learn first aid. School,children dug up playgrounds and planted vegetables. I don't re-call a harvest.,

Farmers collected scraps from restaurants to feed pigs.

Hens fed with fish meal had eggs with a fishy taste. 

Squadrons of bombers left from airfields in the countryside in the early evening and returned before morning...or not.  

Commandoes were billeted in private homes. When they went on raids, personnel carriers picked them, up, faces blackened ,helmets festooned with twigs and branches ,to return exhausted four or five days later..or not. Only  to leave again days later. That was when heavy water plants were situated in Norway.

Cities and industrial areas were targets for blitz. Planes would drone overhead for hours,night after
 night. Hitler ended the London blitz exactly at the moment the water supply ran out. Were it not for that decision, London would have burned to the ground and the war would likely have ended there and then,with Germany as the victor. 

Through it all we had the BBC and the movies. Half hour comedy shows kept us laughing and from dealing with reality. 

We turned off the lights, sat in the firelight and listened and laughed. 

Next day, we laughed again as we repeated the jokes with accents and weird pronunciations to each other at work. 

We laughed at the enemy.  At the corporals,sergeants and senior ranks in the Army....the Air Force ....the Navy. 

We laughed about spies, canteens, black marketeers . 

Nothing was sacred . Lots of stupid stuff was going on. 

There was no talk of winning or losing. The nine o'clock news informed us each night  what was happening where. There were no long range forecasts. 

The missing and dead were our constant companions. We were all wounded .We were all dying. 

Our lives were not whole. Our future was not secure.

I was twelve years old when it began. Seventeen when " Victory " was declared.  

The aftermath continues. It's a story for another day or ten.  

On the other hand ,laughter was the continuous filament that brought us through.

The greater the insanity, the more profound the irreverence, the better it reflected the times we were 
living....dying and losing friends, lovers and family members. 

There was nothing....absolutely nothing....remotely silly  about it. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another great post Evelyn!