09 January 2005

Poverty in the 1970s

Memories of my father's father who was blind from childhood.

Firelighters best exemplify my Grandparents’ impecunious life though they relied on many different ways of stretching the pounds. In his world of perpetual darkness, Granddad prepared firelighters by the hundred all year round from piles of old Daily Telegraphs. He opened a full sheet and starting at one corner, rolled diagonally until he had a long thin tube. This he flattened into a strap, which he folded at the centre to make a “V”. Then he folded the strap repeatedly like a plait, finally tucking the ends in firmly.

As he worked an unfiltered Woodbine bobbed between his lips. He reached out and gently felt for both ends of the paper strap to ensure equal length was maintained. Boxes of these tight, concertina-like blocks lined the draughty hallway. They lessened reliance on more costly kindling wood. I mastered this skill too and in time produced work that met with approval. During the long winter months an open fire burned in the sitting room grate, kindled of course by the paper firelighters.

Excerpt from Memoirs Chapter 3 - 1969-1975“, In Verbo Tuo”


Marjory said...

paints a humble tale of thriftiness out of necessity
how many of us know what it's like to live like that ?

GEL said...

Echoing Reeves' thoughts
Incredible but necessary tenacity for both of you
It had to have been very hard for your granddad to find work back then.