Fall in Love with the Past

Monthly Archives: October 2018

Me working on holiday

Work-life balance is a well-worn phrase which describes a philosophical and ethical way of trying to get the right balance, so you work to live rather than the other way around. The assumption of this philosophy is that the individual’s home life is more important than the in-work life. However, as a writer I have a slightly different take on this.

I’ve just come back from a lovely week in Crete where me and the Hero@Home laid on the beach and walked hand in hand around a harbour under a balmy autumn sky and people accept we are on holiday, but when I tell people always take my laptop away with me so I can keep up my word count while I’m away they throw their hands up in horror. ‘But you’re on holiday’ they say ‘why don’t you just relax’ they say, ‘you should take a break from work’ they say, totally misunderstanding what writing means to me.

Yes, writing is what I work at but it’s not ‘work’. I don’t dread going to my desk each morning, when I’m struggling to write a difficult scene I have to break off for an hour sometimes, but I never want to be away from the story I’m writing for weeks. And it certainly isn’t relaxing for me to have a story in my head hammering to get out and no means of writing it down. For me, a holiday isn’t a holiday without being able to write at least 500 words a day. In fact, in order for the Hero@Home to have a relaxing time away he insists I take my laptop.

The truth of the matter is; even if I change location I can’t escape the current and future stories racing around in my head. And honestly, I don’t want to. So, along with the suntan lotion, swimsuit and beach towel my laptop is top of the list of my holiday essentials.


There are a number of WW2 stories, like the valiant pilots in the battle of Britain, the small Island standing alone against a deadly aggressor and the indominable spirit of ordinary people who didn’t let the blitz break their resolve to see it through to the end, that, quite rightly fill you with pride. However, there are some stories which do the very opposite.

I heard it said once that to survive the deprivation of WW2 even the most upstanding citizen dabbled in the black market. Even if that is true, I think there’s a great deal of difference between getting a few extra eggs or an orange for their children to the widespread looting, burglary and even murder that went on under the cover of the blackout.


It’s hard to imaging as we look back over seventy years that although for the vast majority of people the outbreak of war was the nations fight against fascist tyranny, a small minority saw it as a golden opportunity to line their own pockets.


Wally Thompson, an harden criminal, called the nightly blackout blitz ‘the best ally London Crooks ever had’. Billy Hill, who was known as the king of the London underworld, called them‘…roaring days. Money was easy, the villains were well-loaded. With dough and were busy. Either earning it or spending it.’ (Levine 2015).


A shop that has been stripped out by looters.

A shop that has been stripped out by looters.

For those who earned their living by burglary and theft to operate under cover of darkness and they were unhindered as the police were too busy assisting the civil defence volunteers each night to keep up with the villains.




Aside from those to whom crime was a way of life other ordinary citizen who in ordinary time wouldn’t have dreamed of robbing their neighbours with doors blow off and windows missing grasped the opportunity to help themselves.


There are some well documented instances of people looting, most notably in 1941 when a bomb landed on the Cafe de Paris, where rings and jewellery were stripped off the dead bodies of

Picture show the aftermath in the Cafe de Paris

Sad to say, sometime the thieves and robbers were the very people, fireman and ARP rescue service personal, who were supposed to be helping save life and limb but who were actually the people walking off with bomb victims’ jewellery, money and even clothes.

It’s against this backdrop of crime that I’ve set A Ration Book Christmas, the second of the Brogan Family Ration Book Series.