Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Blitz Cafe - Hebden Bridge

A Step Back in Time

It was just how I had imagined it to be. An older three storey building proudly straddling a street corner with a few tables and chairs placed out front for those dining outdoors. It appeared to be constructed of concrete block bricking - hardly cosmetic but inside - just on the other side of the front door was a different world. A world that had been displaced. A world that belonged eighty years ago in the past. A world that I used to belong to. A world I still belonged to deep in my heart. I was already beginning to choke-up. This was the famous Blitz Cafe famous for serving meals from the WW11 era. How on earth was I going to feel once I got inside? I was not disappointed. Suddenly, I was five again.

An English Lunch

Waiters and waitresses dressed in  
serving attire from that period were serving portions of meat and potato pie covered with copious amounts of warm Bird's Eye Custard. That used to be my favourite of all deserts. I could have died for a second piece. My saliva glands were doing somersaults as if they were saying "I haven't felt this good in fifty years".   
The entire restaurant displayed numerous 
posters; original photographs; and articles of war collected from that period. One poster that caught my eye as I was enjoying my slice of meat and potato pie was a large picture of Adolf Hitler urging a group of English mothers not to send their children and their babies to safe havens such as Canada and Australia for the duration of the war. He was trying to persuade them to keep them in England where, according to him, they belonged. There were so many articles of war scattered throughout the restaurant that it carried an odour synonymous with that period. That is not said as a statement of disapproval. It all, in fact, added to the authenticity of that period.

Family Life During Adversity

I was old enough to understand that some families on our street never spoke to other families. That's how things were. That was normal but all that changed overnight as soon as the War began. There was no money - none at all - and each family was given a book of coupons. It was called a Ration Book. Before you know it coupons were being traded between neighbours that had never spoken to each other in years. "I'll trade you two tea coupons dear in exchange for two coupons for bread." Neighbours began to work with one another and look-out for one another. It was as if the whole street became one big family. It became a lot more friendly. The entire mood of the street changed. I couldn't believe the changes that happened almost overnight. The Restaurant displayed the same kind of friendliness and camaraderie as was displayed on the streets during WW11. The only thing missing was the sound of the Air Raid Siren which signalled that all families should take refuge in the nearest community Air Raid shelter without delay. The writer of this blog was born in an air raid shelter during an air raid. My mother told me that I was delivered by a fireman. Lucky me!

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