Tag Archives: Bananas

Early Days, 1954 Part Two – Rationing, Bananas and a First Car

I first started this blog in November 2009 and I called it ‘The Age of Innocence’ and I intended it to be a look back over the first twenty years or so of my life by examining some of the key events of the years that were making the big news.

The blog was a slow starter, in the first month the statistics show six views increasing to nine in December.  On the basis of these figures it is fair to assume then that not many people have read my early posts so I have decided that ten years since first publication I will go back and review them and repost:

1954 Banana Rationing

“Yes, we have no bananas
We have-a no bananas today
We’ve string beans, and onions
Cabashes, and scallions,
And all sorts of fruit and say
We have an old fashioned tomato
A Long Island potato But yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today”

This seems difficult to believe now but it was only in 1954, the year that I was born, that war time rationing in Britain was officially ended.

It began during World-War-Two in January 1940 when due to severe food shortages and heavy convoy losses in the North Atlantic, bacon, butter and sugar were rationed and this was followed soon after by meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit.  As the Second-World-War progressed, most kinds of food came to be rationed along with clothing and petrol.

My parents were issued with a ration card for me but never had to use it because it all stopped three weeks after I was born on 4th July. It might have gone on longer but for the work of Gwilym Lloyd George, the son of David Lloyd George, who was the Minister of Food from 1951 to 1954 and insisted that the Government prioritise the end of rationing.

The very last food item to be released from the shackles of rationing was bananas, which for me was quite a significant event.

My Dad loved bananas and I could never quite understand why but I suppose he was only twenty-two in 1954 and hadn’t had the pleasure of the bendy yellow fruit for fifteen years or so.  He had been only thirteen when the war finished and in fact it is entirely possible I suppose that he had never had a banana before in his life.  In war time Britain people could grow fruit and vegetables in the back garden while they were ‘digging for victory’ but there was absolutely no chance of course of growing tropical bananas.

1954 Bananas

Except, and this is interesting, between 1943 and 1958 bananas were grown for export in Iceland in giant greenhouses powered by geothermal power.  Interesting because bananas grow best about 15° north and south of the equator and Iceland is 60° north and despite the benefit of geothermal power the reduced levels of sunlight meant that the fruit took two years to ripen.

The return of the banana in England was hailed as a watershed moment in history heralding an end to austerity and to the curse of the ration book.  The Labour government even instigated a national banana day.

My Dad liked all sorts of strange banana combinations, weirdest of all being banana sandwiches on brown bread with sugar, but he was also very fond of chopped bananas with custard.  Personally I’ve never been that keen on bananas at all (I don’t like the smell or the horrid mushy texture) and I try and avoid anywhere that serves banana split for sweet course, but this rationing fact explains a lot about my Dad’s unusual dietary preferences.

1954 Banana Sandwich

Once a week we all had to have bananas for a sweet until one day when I was about fifteen or so and maybe after listening to a Bob Dylan protest song, or maybe Donovan, I could take it no longer and I refused to eat them.  Dad was a good natured person of unnatural even temperament but on this occasion he became a crazy man and this was the only time I can remember him getting really upset with me but I stood my ground and after he had severely chastised me and refused to let me leave the table I think he ate them up for me because he liked them so much.  That was a win-win situation!

At about the same time Dad used to turn his nose up at a chip-butty and found this quite unacceptable and banned the practice at the dinner table as though it was something equivalent to snorting heroin, which for a man who would slap a banana between two slices of bread was always a mystery to me.

1954 chip butty

Interesting Banana facts:

Bananas are the most popular fruit in the UK with Britons eating an average of between 25 and 30lbs of fruit each year; more than double the amount consumed 15 years ago. Annual UK sales are at a record £750m, representing more than a quarter of all fruit sales.

There are about 120 calories in an average banana, they are an important source of potassium and are one of the healthiest fruits. Vitamins and minerals in a single banana are A and a full range of B vitamins with Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, vitamin B6, and of Folic Acid.  There is also vitamin C, with minerals Calcium, Magnesium, with trace amounts of iron and zinc.

In an average year we (in the UK) now buy three and a half billion bananas, relegating the native apple into a poor second place.

By one measure we apparently spend more money on bananas than any other supermarket item apart from petrol and lottery tickets, and more than 95% of UK households buy them every week.

Since 1954 the British Government has had occasion to issue ration coupons one final time.  This was in 1973 in response to the oil crisis when OPEC proclaimed an embargo and there was a real possibility of supplies running short.  Fortunately this never happened but the tokens were issued all the same.

1954 Rations

It didn’t bother me at that time, I didn’t get my first car until three years later.

1954 First Car

A flame red Hillman Avenger, top specification GL, 1500cc, registration WRW 366J, which featured four round headlights internal bonnet release, two-speed wipers, brushed nylon seat trim (previously never used on British cars), reclining front seats (very important), hockey stick rear light cluster and a round dial dashboard with a rev counter.

In this car I did hundreds of pounds worth of damage to other people’s vehicles because it had an inconveniently high back window which made reversing a bit of a challenge for a short person like me.

Hillman Avenger

 

More About Chips, Crisps or Fries (and Bananas)

In my last post I raised the issue of chips/crisps/fries and preferences for eating them.  This reminded me of my dad who liked chips but absolutely never came to terms with eating them in a bread bun…

Banana Sandwiches or Chip Butties?

I will get onto chips in a minute but I just want to talk a little bit about bananas. It seems almost impossible to believe but it was only in 1954, the year that I was born, that war time food rationing was only officially ended a couple of weeks later on July 4th.

It began in January 1940 when bacon, butter and sugar were rationed and this was followed soon after by meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit.  As the Second World War progressed, most kinds of food came to be rationed along with clothing and petrol.

I mention this because the very last food item to be released from the shackles of rationing in Britain were bananas, which for me is quite a significant fact.  My Dad loved bananas and I could never quite understand why but I suppose he was only twenty-two in 1954 and hadn’t had the pleasure for fifteen years and in fact it is quite possible I suppose that he had never had a banana before in his life.

Interestingly, fish and chips were considered so important during the Second-World-War that it was one of only a very few food items that were never rationed.

The return of the banana was hailed as heralding an end to austerity and to the curse of the ration book.  The Labour government even instigated a national banana day in 1946.

This was only a one year event but in the USA they continue to this day with several banana themed days – February 23rd Banana Bread Day, March 2nd Banana Cream Pie Day, August 25th Banana Split Day and most important of all, April 15th National Banana day!

The USA also has some other weird food days – July 15th National French Fries Day, even though they don’t know the difference between chips and crisps and most odd of all National Hot Cross Bun Day on September 11th.  Now, I know that Easter is a moveable feast but I don’t believe that it has ever fallen as late in the year as September!*

My dad liked all sorts of strange banana combinations, weirdest of all being banana sandwiches on brown bread with sugar, but he was also very fond of chopped bananas in custard.  Personally I’ve never been that keen on bananas at all but this rationing fact explains a lot about my dad’s unusual dietary preferences.

Once a week we all had to have bananas for a pudding until one day when I was about fifteen I could take it no longer I planned a teenager protest and I refused to eat them.  It was the only time I can remember him getting really upset with me but I stood my ground even though he severely chastised me and wouldn’t let me leave the table.  I continued to stubbornly refuse them and eventually I think I wore him down and he ate them up for me because he liked them so much. That is what you call a win/win result!

Now, getting back to chips and the point of the story because at about the same time as he was gorging banana sandwiches dad used to turn his nose up at a chip butty and found this quite unacceptable, which for a man who would slap a banana between two slices of bread and put sugar on it was always a mystery to me.  He would have a slice of buttered bread with his chips but the idea of making a sandwich he considered rather common!

Chip Butty

So, in response to the comments received after my previous post I started to think about all the other chip combinations that he would disapprove of and I think his top five would be:

1  Cheesy Chips

2  Chips with Curry

3  Chips with Mayonnaise (and he wouldn’t have liked Reservoir Dogs either)

4  Chips in foil packets (because these are crisps)

but most of all, and thank you to my friends in Canada for this one…

5  Poutine with curds of cheese and gravy

Graphic content warning – do not proceed beyond this point if you have a weak stomach or are of a nervous disposition…

 

…this is Poutine from Canada…

Poutine

When I first heard of this I was convinced that it was some sort of wind-up, but apparently not, you can even get it in McDonalds, but thankfully only in Canada…

McDonalds Poutine

Try eating that in your car without making a mess of your trousers while you are driving…

So, now please tell me about any of your own dining peculiarities or personal favourites?

*The timing of Easter seems somewhat confusing because it is termed a moveable feast that is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar as for instance is Christmas Day or my Birthday.

Easter falls at some point in a thirty-five day period sometime between late March and late April each year and the exact date is determined by the cycle of the moon.  After several centuries of disagreement, and prompted by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the year 325 to sort things out, all churches accepted the basis of the Alexandrian Church that Easter is the first Sunday after the first fourteenth day of the Paschal Full Moon that is on or after the ecclesiastical vernal equinox.  To you and me this is the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox which is that moment in time when the centre of the Sun can be observed to be directly above the equator.

 

Age of Innocence – 1954 Part Two, Rationing and Bananas

banana shortage

This seems almost impossible to believe now but it was only in 1954, the year that I was born, that war time rationing in Britain was officially ended.

Read the full story…

It’s Nice To Feel Useful (4)

  

It’s nice to feel useful (4) …

Every now and again I start to look back over my posts to review what has been going on.  One of the things that I like to do is to take a look at the search questions that seem to bring web-surfers by the site and take a look at some of the more bizarre and unusual.

P&O Pride of Rotterdam

All of my reports  in this post  are about travel related questions. Firstly this one – Ferry Crossing Hull to Amsterdam Horror Stories”.  I am not sure what the enquirer had in mind here, perhaps it was the story of the woman who threw herself overboard or perhaps the suicide statistics on the nearby Humber Bridge, maybe it was the on board catering arrangements which, actually, I have to say were excellent!  Either way here is the post that I wrote about the otherwise brilliant ferry crossing – Hull to Rotterdam.

Spain Postcard Map

Second in this category is is there mountain driving throughout Spain?” What a dumb question – with an average altitude of six hundred and fifty metres it is second highest country in Europe after Switzerland so of course there is mountain driving and to be honest most people could work this out by consulting a geographical atlas.

To be honest however I have to admit to having been caught out by this myself and on a recent visit to Catalonia I was forced to abandon a drive to Andorra because the mountain drive was just too difficult – An aborted drive to Andorra.

Ryanair Cabin

Next in this section – How long is Ryanair airplane seat belts?” and quite frankly how the heck should I know and do I really care. I first wrote on the subject of Ryanair in 2009 and it immediately started getting hundreds of hits and then in 2011 it just stopped completely.  I reviewed and reposted it and changed the title from the specific ‘Travel Tips when Flying Ryanair’ to the more general title that it has now and hey presto the hits started coming again. – Travel Tips when Flying Budget Airlines.

Gerald Durell Corfu Greece  Lawrence Durrell Corfu Greece

Next, I like this one – Lawrence and Gerald Durrell – how tall were they?, honestly, what sort of question is that and unless you were their tailor or their undertaker why would you want to know.  I did write a post about the Durrells when I visited Corfu where they both lived so perhaps this is where the enquirer ended up – “Corfu, In the Footsteps of Lawrence and Gerald Durrell” and I will be returning later this year so hopefully I can provide more missing detail!

Sagrada Familia Cathedral Barcelona

How about this one – How long would it take me from Sagrada Familia from England?  Without further information that is a tough one because unless you have discovered time travel which is very unlikely then the options seem to me to be restricted to road, train or airline.  The motorway option will take a couple of days if you test the motorway speed limits to the maximum and the train option is probably more or less the same but a flight from London Stansted will see you in Barcelona, or nearby Girona (Ryanair) in under two hours.

I flew to Girona recently and this is my post about Gaudi’s unfinished Cathedral – The Sagrada Familia.

Finally in this section I have found a question about Morocco – Buying a rain jacket in Fes” which just makes the mind boggle.  You can pretty much anything in Fes but it doesn’t generally rain a lot in Morocco, except when we went to the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech so when I was there rain wear was not very prominent and we had to make do with a travel umbrella – The Souks of Fes.

edam

Moving on from travel I have found a couple of health related queries.  I am not a doctor or a dietician but I think I know the answer to the first one – is edam good for your liver?” and my response, unless there is medical research to the contrary, is probably not.  I did write a post about a visit to a Dutch cheese factory so perhaps this is where the enquirer was directed – Heritage visits and Museums.

And then this one – “Banana Death”  

I confess that I have never been a great fan of bananas but except for the time when my dad and I fell out one tea time because I refused to eat one in a sandwich I have never really considered them to be especially dangerous. 

My dad loved bananas and it is an interesting fact that they are now the most popular fruit in the UK with Britons eating an average of between 25 and 30lbs of fruit each year; more than double the amount consumed 15 years ago. Annual UK sales are at a record £750m, representing more than a quarter of all fruit sales.  I wrote about bananas once here – Banana Sandwiches or Chip Butties?

Tourists The Grand Tour of Europe

Finally to sex because it is estimated that well over half of all web searches are about this subject.

Firstly “Places to get laid in Europe” and believe me if I had the answer to that one then I would keep it to myself.  Perhaps the enquirer was thinking about the red light district in Amsterdam or perhaps they found their way to my post on the Grand Tour of Europe?

But I have saved my absolute favourite for this collection util the very last and this is it:

Did Vikings have large penises?”

Vikings

Well, I am not an archaeologist or an anthropologist but what  sort of odd question is that to put into a web search engine?

I find myself being completely unable to help with this subject but on a recent visit to Iceland I did get to visit the rather odd Penis Museum but I don’t think that will have the answer to that one either.

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