Sunday, 2 February 2020

A virtual walk around Richmond (Yorkshire)

Although I haven't lived there for decades, I still have a very strong sense of coming from Richmond in Yorkshire. My family on my mother's side have lived there for at least two hundred years and, before that, they lived in and around the villages of Thoralby and West Burton near Aysgarth, in Wensleydale, up the dales from Richmond. The men seem to have been mostly shoemakers and stonemasons, with a few soldiers thrown in.
My favourite painting of Richmond, by John Aldridge, 1955
I'm currently preparing to do a course in memoir-writing at the Faber Academy in London in a few weeks' time. The tutor will be Julia Blackburn and she's the reason why I have paid to attend the course (being normally unwilling to part with money for such things -- my memorable weekend with Martin Parr was the last time I put my hand in my pocket for such a thing). I've loved Julia's books for years and really admire the way she combines original and fascinating subjects with personal material so beautifully.
I've read and loved all of these books by her. My favourite is The Three of Us, because I'm so interested in families. I want to write a family memoir myself and have been gathering source material for it for a long time. I'm hoping the course is going to galvanise me into choosing one of several directions that I can see it taking and then getting on and writing it.
     There's a great reading list for the course which I'm working my way through -- memoirs characterised by a variety of forms, including Jackie Kay's autobiographical poem, The Adoption Papers and Giles Waterfield's novel about his grandparents, The Long Afternoon. The course is structured around the reading list and, I think, will give us the chance to try out different forms for our own autobiographical writing. I'm really looking forward to it.
If only my first home had been the beautiful Gothic house in the centre of the photo but it was the tiny cottage squeezed in next door
As soon as you start thinking about your family and your past, the memories crowd in. My approach is to try to capture as many as I can, even if they're fragmentary. I have hundreds of notes already which I'm going to have to try to put into some sort of order. Many of my earliest memories are located in the tiny cottage above, the one with the deep porch. It belonged to my maternal grandmother and she rented it to my Mum and Dad when they were first married. Inside the rooms were pretty spacious and it didn't feel cramped. There was a back garden that you could also reach down an alley that started a bit further along the road.

The road, called Newbiggin, was cobbled, and my actual earliest memory is of setting off in a car along Newbiggin and, before we reached the end, the back door beside where I was sitting swinging open. I saw the cobbles rushing along beneath me through the opening. No back-seat seatbelts in those days but I didn't fall out.
Newbiggin was down in one of the older parts of Richmond, but when I was nine we moved up to Maison Dieu (pronounced in a no-nonsense Yorkshire way as 'Mason Dew' -- the name came from an old religious hospital that had been there long before). This was a homecoming for my Mum because she had grown up in the tall house at the far right of the postcard above. The postcard shows a view of Maison Dieu from the River Swale down below (and my junior school is in the bottom left corner too). Here's the view from up on the road itself:
My great-granny was very entrepreneurial and, having run a 'department store' called Mattison's Bazaar down in the market place, when WWII broke out and things weren't so good in retail, she bought the red-brick house and let out some of the many rooms to boarders.
     Now imagine that you're crossing the road from that house, at a slight angle to the right, where the pavement rises above the level of the road. You'll be at the front gate of my new home.
The house with the blue door and the white chair outside was now our house. I lived there very happily until I went to university. Ultimately, my Mum lived there on her own before she moved down south to live near me, at the very end of her life. The house was sold and became a Bed & Breakfast. In October 2019 it 'starred' in an episode of Four in a Bed on Channel 4, which gave me a very creepy opportunity to snoop around my own former home. It had been changed around inside: bedrooms had been converted into en suite bathrooms and everything faced in a different direction from before. It was very therapeutic for me to see inside again because it magically cured me of the sad nostalgia I used to have for it!
This picture (above) is looking down Maison Dieu from the top of the road. The red-brick house is on the right, but you can only see the tiniest bit of it; my old house is down on the left, again not really visible. The two white buildings with the little bed of shrubs in front of them were both shops when I was growing up. The smaller, cream building was Mrs Boddy's shop and my mother would constantly send me along there to get things for our tea -- we never planned ahead, it seemed! And both shops had copious stocks of sweeties. I swear I was hardly ever without a quarter of something in my pocket or a chocolate bar. We just didn't think about sugar being bad for us in those days.
This is the aerial view of Maison Dieu. You can see it coming to a point on the left, where it meets Darlington Road, and you can see the little patch of shrubs and work out where the two sweet shops were. You can also see B&B at 43 marked, which was my old house.
Above is the same pointed bit, from an old map. And I've overlaid them as well:
The little area round the corner from the two shops is known as Anchorage Hill, because in 1274 an Anchorite nun was shut up in an 'anchorhold' or cell next to a tiny chapel and remained there for the rest of her life (food and water could be passed to her through a 'squint' or narrow gap in the wall). There's no sign of her cell any more but the chapel building is still there. It was eventually converted into three tiny almshouses in 1618. On the old map above you can see it labelled as 'Bowes' Hospital'. The patron of the almshouses was Lady Eleanor Bowes.
This is the Hospital from one end (above) and this (below) is it from the other end:
It's right next to a garage and so there's a monstrous sign obliterating it. I'm not sure whether anyone still lives there -- I think they might do -- but in 1871 my four-times great grandmother, Jane Mattison was one of the three tenants.
Her husband Jonas, a stonemason, had died in 1855. In the previous census, in 1861, she was still living at home at the bottom of Richmond, in Bargate, with a granddaughter, also called Jane, living in, and a boarder to bring in a spot of rent. But at some point after that she moved up to the almshouses. She lived until 1879, probably in the same place. I think relatives of ours named Thwaites lived in two of the other houses on Anchorage Hill, so they probably kept an eye on her.
Incidentally, this portrait of Elizabeth I, by an unknown artist, was found in one of the almshouses and is now kept safe in Richmond Town Hall -- I wonder if it was in the one my great granny lived in?
If you're still with me on this virtual tour of Richmond, we're turning round again now and heading back towards the town centre.
This is the war memorial at the top of Frenchgate. The big beast of a house on the right is Oglethorpe House, for many years painted a lurid mustard yellow. My mother lived there when she was very little, with her mum and dad, but not for very long. When I was three I went to kindergarten there, which I loved, even though I always had terrible scabs on my knees from falling over on the gravel paths that were all we had to play on.
We can look down Frenchgate from the war memorial: my grandparents and aunts and uncles have lived in so many of the houses in this street!
We're continuing along Pottergate, past this special scented garden intended to appeal to blind people as well as the sighted. I always insisted on running along the wall of the garden when I was little and once, inevitably, fell off, into the rose bushes. I've still got the scar where a thorn just missed my eye.
You can see the red-brick end of a house, on the left. It's the start of a little row of three Victorian houses.
The second and third houses in the terrace share a porch. I'm not going to give anything away here but I stepped through one of the doors under that porch quite a few times when I was a teenager. Teenage kicks were had in the attic... that's all I'm saying (pretty innocent kicks, actually, but even so). Over the road is another gorgeous Gothic house which was converted into a 'cottage hospital' in 1899. It's now a funeral directors'. The road that opens up between the two houses is Quakers Lane, where my best friend lived in a lovely house, just where you can see the orange barriers and some workmen.
This was the bottom of their drive and she and I spent sooooo much time sitting on that bench, seeing who might be coming along.
I could go on and on, wandering around Richmond, to Billy Banks Woods, round the Castle Walk, up and down Lombards Wynd and into every nook and cranny, but I'll stop there. Even though I haven't lived there for over thirty years, I still feel as though I know every paving stone.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Can I find my Irish ancestor Jane? -- short answer, no

Image result for tracing your irish family history on the internet
Just out from Pen and Sword Family History -- could it solve my family history conundrum?

I was very kindly given a review copy of Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet by Chris Paton (Pen & Sword Books, £14.99). I decided to review it by using it to see if it could help me solve the biggest mysteries in my own family tree: what was my 4x great grandmother's maiden name and where did she come from? All I know is that she was also called Jane (like me) and came from Ireland.

This document was written by my great grandmother, Julia Mattison -- she was only a Mattison by marriage but she was very keen on the Mattison family history. We were a family very much rooted in Richmond, North Yorkshire, where I also grew up. Earlier generations of the family lived up Swaledale, at Thoralby. We were not wealthy by any means but we were artisans for the most part (or the men were): stonemasons, iron workers, shoemakers, upholsterers. Great granny Mattison ran Mattison's Bazaar, a department store in Richmond marketplace, and her husband John, who was a tinsmith, made pans and kettles and so on which were sold in the shop alongside 78rpm records, toys, china, pens, you name it. She also ran a lending library from the premises.
This photo shows four generations of our family: Great granny Mattison on the right (writer of the document above), her daughter (also called Julia) in the middle, my mother on the left and me aged three.
     Anyway, to get back to the question in hand, I only know about my 4x great grandmother Jane from my great granny's document. Jane was born on June 6 1794. I've established (from several census returns) that she came from Ireland, but I don't know where in Ireland or what her maiden name was.
This is an extract from the 1841 census, which records Jonas and Jane living on Castle Hill in Richmond (Yorks) with six of their children (in total I believe they had twelve children, although one or two died in infancy). The 'I' in the right-hand column of Jane's entry stands for Ireland as the place of her birth. Jonas was a stonemason. The date of Jane's birth according to this census would be 1801, which doesn't tally with the 1794 on our family document. I'm more inclined to believe the latter -- on census returns people often rounded their age up or down to the nearest 5 and it looks as though both Jonas and Jane may have done that in this instance.
Jonas and Jane lived in this cottage on Castle Hill. According to the census, eight people were living here in 1841, half of them adults.
     To cut a very long story short, that's pretty much all I know about Irish Jane. Without her maiden name it's nigh on impossible to find her in Ireland. Chris Paton's book is an excellent resource which lists a vast number of Irish genealogy resources along with pointers on how best to use them, but no resources in the world can find an unknown 'Jane'. On Ancestry, I managed to draw down a list of 'Janes' born in Ireland at the end of the eighteenth century but, without other clues, it's impossible to know whether any of them is my Jane. There's no record (that I've found) of Jonas and Jane's marriage either in the UK or Ireland (UK more likely, I think, as Jane probably emigrated to England or Scotland as a young woman) and perhaps they never formalised their relationship. Who knows?
     Sometimes you just have to let these things go. Perhaps one day someone else on Ancestry will pin Jane down and I'll be able to borrow their findings. For now, I'm going to leave well alone.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Away BACK To Lamorna



A beautiful aquatint of Lamorna Cove by Geoffrey Sneyd Garnier (Penlee Museum & Gallery, Penzance)
We've just come back from a week in Cornwall and there's a little bit of a story to why we stayed where we did. It only seems like a couple of years since we were last there, but I see from my blogpost about it that it was April 2012! That first time, we stayed in the second house from the left in the terrace (above), but we saw that the next-door house was much nicer than the one we were in. Through the large bay windows we couldn't help but notice beautiful paintings on the walls, stacks of lovely china in the alcoves and attractive furniture. In fact we even found ourselves at an auction on the same day as next-door's tenants (at David Lay in Penzance -- very good) and later we saw all their beautiful purchases laid out in their window (this made a strong impression on me as success at an auction is something I value highly). It turned out to be possible to rent that next-door house for holidays and so this time it was us in the beautiful house, which we now know is called Cove House.
Cove House (on the left with two bay windows and extension)
In the comments book, someone had described the house as 'Kettles Yard by the sea' and it certainly has that flavour. There's enough modern stuff to enable life to be lived more or less as normal (hot water, big cooker, small TV and so on) but otherwise one feels one has passed through a membrane into the past.
I liked the old flags used as curtains in the bathroom and the stacks of chunky Portmerion mugs with Bewick prints on them in the kitchen.
There was a wonderful lamp with prints clipped to the shade -- too frail to use but splendid to look at:
Dora makes a determined stand for modernity
My favourite object in the house was this strange little figure:
There was a brand name on the back, or perhaps it was even a marketing slogan, but I forgot to make a note of it. If anyone knows anything about her mysterious ballbearing anatomy, please leave me a comment about it.
     The best thing about Cove House is really its location, right down by the sea in front of the little harbour (and, necessary evil, the car park) at Lamorna Cove. You can have your feet in the sea in half a minute, or you can be sitting in the little enclosed garden in even less time. The sea performed a full repertoire for us, from emerald calm to silvery seething to foamy waves -- always mesmerising.

The whole of the Cove is privately owned and changed hands recently, causing some anxiety. Parking is very strictly overseen, although a parking place comes with the house booking (plus another one in the tiny garage, if you should happen to drive a miniature car). I have very fond memories of having the crab and fish soup at the cafe decades ago when I spent two Christmases in St Ives with my mum -- they still serve the soup but the bowl of it that I had this week wasn't the splendid rich concoction of memory (and some reviewers on TripAdvisor seem to agree with me). But times change. As do I -- against my better judgment, here are a couple of photos of me from the first time I went to Cornwall, in the mid-Eighties. Note the legwarmers...

On one of the front windows of Cove House is a little notice, part of the advertising of it as a holiday rental:
This intrigued me greatly. I adore Arnold Bennett's Potteries novels and it was exciting to think that we were staying in a house he once stayed in -- although having tried to psych myself up to a pitch of 'resonance' with AB, I decided in the end that it's impossible to get a real sense of a person's presence from being in a place they once were. Still, he probably slept in the same bedroom and looked out at the very same view. I decided, as soon as I got home, to try to research his visit (or perhaps visits) in more detail. Stop here if you don't want to wade into a long episode of sleuthing...
     In the postcard on the window (above), which is dated 1908, Cove House is not actually there. To begin with there were only three houses in the terrace -- Cove House was built later. You can see that the building materials are a little different in the earlier photo of the house exterior. And the little extension was built later still. This is borne out by comparing this map, from the decade of 1900-1910...
The three houses in the terrace are just to the left of the footbridge. Although there's hard-standing for another house, there isn't actually a building there
...with this one from the 1960s:
Cove House has now been built and is named on the map
Alas, I haven't found a map for the decades in between so can't pinpoint exactly when the house was built. It was probably between about 1910 and 1920, I think.
     Here's an old photo of Cove House before the garage extension was built:

Now here's a postcard from the Sixties, with the garage now added:
The whole cove had been developed by this stage, with a car park, sea wall and slipway. The cafe has been created on the left as well. But I think that Cove House was perhaps also run as a tea room in the 1930s.
     In her biography of Arnold Bennett of 1974, Margaret Drabble says that Bennett came down to Cornwall for a six-week stay in July and August 1930, right at the end of his life (he would die of typhoid from drinking tap water in Paris the following March). He came with his partner, the actress Dorothy Cheston -- they don't seem to have brought their four-year-old daughter Virginia with them. He had just finished his last (full) novel, Imperial Palace, an epic contemporary story built around the running of the Savoy Hotel. Bennett was a celebrity and there was interest in where he had chosen to spend his holiday:
Birmingham Daily Gazette, 18 August 1930
Shortly after Bennett's death, this letter appeared in the Staffordshire Sentinel (27 April 1931):
It's this letter that makes me think that Cove House functioned as a tea room -- the 'unpretentious little cottage, one of a row, facing the water'. As a publisher myself, it's exciting to imagine Bennett sitting in our holiday cottage correcting his proofs!
     Although Imperial Palace was Bennett's last completed novel, when he returned to London in September (following a short cruise on a friend's yacht), he began another novel, Dream of Destiny, which he would not finish. In this, he has a character declare:
And in a letter from Cornwall to his nephew Richard, Bennett wrote, 'On the whole, this is certainly the best English holiday I have ever had, and one of the very cheapest.' He went on:

Later in the holiday, at the end of July 1930, the couple moved up to Trewoofe (pronounced 'Trove'), a comfortable house at the top of the lane that leads down to Lamorna Cove, owned by the Shaws. Their daughter was the excellent painter Dod Procter.
     Bennett's final verdict on his Cornwall staycation (which, as far as I know, was his only visit to the county) comes in a further letter to his nephew:
And I agree with every word of that.
'Green Sea, Lamorna Cove' by Dame Laura Knight -- the sea was even greener than this during our stay

The green sea, and Porthmeor Beach, seen through the window of one of the studios in the St Ives School of Painting, last week
If you'd like to stay in Cove House yourself, you'll find all the details here: http://www.lamornacovehouse.com/ (btw, none of the above is intended to 'advertise' the house, it's just written out of my interest in a lovely place!)

Friday, 7 December 2018

The War on Chastity -- and Vera Lynn's part in it


"When the lights go on again all over the world ...
Then we'll have time for things like wedding rings"
(from "When the Lights Go on Again" by Bennie Benjamin, Sol Marcus and Eddie Seiler, Warner/Chappell Music)

I'm still immersing myself daily (on my drive to work) in the wartime hits of Vera Lynn and absolutely loving my fantasy of giving a Stars in Their Eyes type performance one day. My 'set' is up to ten songs now, none of them the ones that Vera is most famous for, and some of them still have the power to reduce me to tears, which is tricky when driving. It used to be "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" that made me blub, but thoroughly learning a song, including the timing of the crisp consonants that Vera always includes at the ends of her words (she has such exquisite diction!), seems to neutralise the devastating power of the lyrics after a while. Currently it's "How Green Was My Valley" and the end of "That Lovely Week-end" that still have the pathos to draw my tears.
     Singing these marvellous songs over and over has made me focus on the lyrics and what the effect of them must have been when they were hits during World War II. Two in particular have made me think about the way the war speeded up changes in behaviour and hastened the dismantling of sexual restrictions that we more often associate with the Sixties.
     When I was writing my novel, Don't You Ever Cry, which is set in 1946, I watched as many Forties films as I could and a strong theme I noticed in several of them was a push-me-pull-you wavering of the morality around women's sexuality and agency (see, for example, My Reputation from 1946). The war effort needed women to step up into men's roles, to do the work that the men had done before they went off to fight which was liberating and empowering. There was also an accelerated social acceptance of the idea that Our Boys should enjoy the love (and sex) of a good woman when they were on leave, to fortify them for their return to the front. Both of those things represented rapid and disruptive changes to the social structures that were in place before the war (such as 'saving yourself' until you were married -- of course not everyone did by any means but that was the social standard). Yet at the same time women were still expected to be good wives and mothers, and once the war was over they had to be able to be corralled back into the home, so that the men could have their jobs back again. To put it crudely, they had to pull off the old Madonna/whore conundrum, an almost impossible challenge. However, some of Vera's songs offer a kind of primer in how to do it.
     I'm going to look closely at two song lyrics. I think they contained interesting messages to the women who first heard them. There are links to YouTube so you can hear Vera's recordings.

First up is "That Lovely Week-end", written by Moira and Ted Heath and recorded by Vera in 1942. It's a narrative song in which Vera takes the part of a woman who has just spent the eponymous weekend with her soldier boyfriend. She's writing him a letter to thank him for "Those two days of heaven you helped me spend". Make no mistake, the song is about the fact that she slept with him during his weekend leave:

"To mark the occasion we went out to dine
Remember the laughter, the music, the wine..."
     Note that the one thing she doesn't mention is the food, which was probably not terribly nice, given rationing. The song continues:
"That drive in the taxi when midnight had flown
Then breakfast next morning, just we two alone."
     The lyrics can't touch on the sex itself, but they symbolise it by referring to the heady anticipation of a taxi ride back to the hotel and then with a jump over the intimate night-time hours to breakfast in their room. This is rather racy stuff for the time.
     The song has already established that the woman's boyfriend is worth risking her reputation for. Not only is he sexy ("The thrill of your kiss as you stepped off the train"), he's also kind ("The smile in your eyes like the sun after rain"). The whole premise of sleeping with your man before marriage is that he has to be worth it and the woman has to trust his commitment to a shared future. She isn't fooling around.
     After the dreamy melody of the verse, there's a bridge with a much more urgent and anxious feel -- the tone changes, there's a kind of crisis in both the music and the lyrics:


"You had to go, the time was too short
We both had so much to say
Your kit to be packed, the train to be caught
Sorry I cried but I just felt that way."
     Emotions are running high, understandably. She has given herself to her man and now, at the point of greatest intimacy, they have to part almost immediately and the chap is heading into mortal danger. But then the melody of the verse returns to pour balm on their wounds:
"And now you have gone, dear, this letter I pen
My heart travels with you till we meet again
Keep smiling, my darling, and someday we'll spend
A lifetime as sweet as that lovely weekend."
     I like the echo of Vera's greatest hit, "We'll Meet Again", recorded three years earlier so already embedded in the national conscience. The song's great payoff is the promise that the "lovely weekend" is just a taster of the long and happy life the couple will spend together. It combines reassurance that one day the misery of the war will be over (though it would be another three long years before peace was declared) with justification of the decision to have sex before marriage -- don't worry, ladies, you're simply borrowing a little intimacy on credit from your expected lifetime with your man. No doubt in many cases this didn't turn out to be the case, but I think the lyric represents a pragmatic squaring of the circle of chastity vs sexual reward for Our Boys.

The other song that seems to speak to the same anxiety -- and even more intimately -- is the wonderful "Room Five Hundred and Four" (lyrics by Eric Maschwitz, music by George Posford). It was written for Maschwitz's 1940 revue New Faces, which also gave us "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square". The sheet music above shows Judy Campbell, who was in the original cast. Vera Lynn recorded it in 1942, with Jay Wilbur and His Band. It's another narrative song in which a woman tells of a night spent with her lover in an expensive hotel. Unlike "That Lovely Week-end", the lyrics don't refer explicitly to wartime, but this story of one night in a hotel certainly fits in to the theme of squaring the circle of chastity vs the "gift of sex".

The first verse establishes the scene:
"Such a big hotel, a very grand one,
Right upon the avenue.
We could not afford it
But, Sweet, I just adored it,
My very first and only rendezvous"
     The modest bank balances of the pair are important to declare, so as not to alienate anyone listening -- this is an ordinary couple, just like you and me. The word "sweet", together with "sweetest" and "dearest", set the tone of non-threatening loveliness: this night of sex is going to be presented in as unthreatening manner as possible and, let's get this absolutely straight, our lady has never done anything like this before and never will again: her "first and only rendezvous". So don't go thinking she's some sort of loose woman.
     Let's go on to the next verse:
"In room five hundred and four,
So sweet a room, so strange and new,
It was romance, a dream come true
That perfect honeymoon alone with you
In room five hundred and four."
     The song is calling this a "honeymoon" but I don't think it's what we conventionally think of as a honeymoon, which is taken immediately after marriage. Rather, it's a kind of symbolic honeymoon -- as good as, a marker for the marriage that will surely follow. In this, it's exactly the same as "That Lovely Weekend" which looks forward to a "lifetime" together. Women were "allowed" to sleep with their boyfriend before marriage as long as they were fully committed to each other and intended to marry. In fact this get-around was socially sanctioned much longer ago than this -- in the 19th century the same quiet blind eye was turned to sex out of wedlock, as long as a couple were betrothed, certainly among the working class. But it was not alluded to in popular songs, as far as I know.
     The couple, no doubt by now anticipating their fast-approaching intimacy, go into their hotel room:

"We turned the key in the door
We hadn't dared to ask the price
That kind of thrill can't happen twice
And who could bargain over paradise
In room five hundred and four?"
     I love the line about bargaining over paradise, and the mention of a "thrill" is the raciest moment of the whole song. Let's not get overwrought, now! 

     Here comes the bridge:
"The lovely night, the starlight above,
The sleeping town below.
And in the dark you said, my love,
The dearest things I know."
     This is it, the actual bit where they, you know, do...it. In the dark. But the song veers away from passion and substitutes words in its place, the rather tame "dearest things I know". I feel this is part of the song's mission not to frighten the horses. As before, the sexual act is like an empty space at the heart of the song, and the lyrics always look away from it rather than at it -- up at the stars, down at the town, at the room itself, which becomes a metaphor for what happens there. The subtext of the song is that a "nice" woman will understandably be nervous about going to a hotel with a man, even if it's the man she fully intends to spend the rest of her life with, and so she can take comfort in the pretty hotel room and the reassurance that her man will only talk to her, not do anything physical and alarming. There's a twofold blurring of reality here, firstly the song sells the idea that sex is "sweet" and "dear" (which of course it can be, but it's not just that). Secondly, it also reinforces the idea that women won't be just as excited and passionate as men when it comes to sex. Mid-century mores are deeply embedded in this song.

     The final verse takes us forward in time and the woman looks back fondly on that night in Room 504:
"We don't live there any more,
But still in memory I adore
The sweetest room I ever saw,
A seventh heaven on the old fifth floor,
Our room five hundred and four."
     What strikes me here is the idea that the couple "lived" in the room. And this is underlined still further by it becoming "our room" in the last line. There's a sleight of hand that makes a single night in an anonymous hotel be part of the couple's "life together", a home. It isn't, but that's all part of the reassuring story which overlays rule-breaking sex with a veneer of photo-album sanctity.
     I love this song -- but it amuses me to dissect the have-your-cake-and-eat-it lyrics that gave women permission to sleep with their boyfriends at a time when no one knew if there would be a happy ever after.

If you'd like to read other posts relating to Don't You Ever Cry, my novel about love, sex and murder in 1946, which is currently on submission to literary agents, read "Vera Lynn -- One of the Boys" and "Going Back to 1946".