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Oh, what a luvverly war!


[Editor’s note: the following is a guest post by Helen Spencer, founder of SaveEveryStep, in which she recounts a recent opportunity to capture a family memory with photos and story.]

Wartime wardrobes come to Peacetime Pickering!

A glorious Autumn morning greeted my family last weekend. A buzz of excitement filled the house as the kids remembered that today we had woken up in 1945….

Once a year, the small and discreet market town of Pickering, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors in England, plays host to a unique event. For 72 hours, the town is transformed into what can only be described as a reincarnation of V.E. Day.

helen spencer - saveeverystep

The children donned their gas masks (literally!) and I cursed my 21st century hair products for their awesome smoothing effects as I struggled to coax my mane into a Victory Roll.

We arrived, feeling somewhat self-conscious amongst the 21st century suburban housing and modern vehicles as we parked the car, but we need not have worried. As we turned the corner we were met with a fabulous sight… the town was abuzz with banjo players, steam trains, spontaneous tea dances and vintage clothing.

A parade was just about to begin, so we sought a good vantage point for our two evacuee children and settled in to watch. Jeeps, marching military bands, flapping headscarves and red lipstick, tanks and bicycles.

There were G.I.s and ‘Tommys’ side by side, and the glorious blue of the RAF uniform brought a lump to my throat as I nodded respect to my Uncle Joe, a Lancaster Bomber gunner, sadly long gone.

Our youngest son, 4, stood transfixed as we stumbled upon a 40’s singer entertaining the crowds on the High Street. He was standing in an open-topped Jeep, crooning to the crowds in full military uniform. Couples were dancing the foxtrot with authentic perfection. A tug at my skirt brought me down to my son’s enquiring face…..

“Mummy, will you and daddy do that please?” ……I wish we could, son. I wish we could.

A small boy was coining in the cash in an upturned hat, simply by looking cute in his shorts & cap, bespectacled and scruffy, standing on a home-made wood-and-tin-can scooter contraption.

The sun reliably cooperated all day as we munched on bacon ‘butties’ and browsed vintage clothing stalls. The steam trains were on fine form as they puffed passengers up and down the carefully-maintained lines from one station to another. French resistance fighters jostle with British wartime Policemen, and music poured out of every pub doorway.

The festivities spread much broader and longer than we had time for, but a return visit is certainly on the cards for 2012!

Oh, what a luvverly war!

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