So it's the Summer Bank Holiday this weekend in old Blighty, and if the weather is up to its usual tricks it is probably going to be pouring all weekend (there I go again talking about the weather!) so it will probably be best to stay indoors wrapped in a blanket eating copious amounts of cake - well those are my plans anyway!
If you have been in Britain this year you will probably be aware that 2012 is the year of the Stay at Home Holiday. We have been actively encouraged by the government and the tourist board that Holidays at Home are Great! - and who I'm I to argue with Stephen Fry! Essentially the idea is to plan a Holiday to one of Britain's many glorious destinations rather than travelling abroad, to Clacton rather than Cannes, and by doing so save ourselves time, hassle and above all money, and in turn, we will help refuel our own economy.
This Holidaying close to home idea is by no means a new one, during WWII the government put out a very similar message 'Holidays at Home'. People were actively encouraged to go one step further than today however and essentially not leave their towns - not that sunning oneself in the south of France would have really been an option - by doing this it would help the country to save money, fuel, and more trains could be given over to transporting food, soldiers and munitions and so ease the pressure on the rail networks, with the money you saved being put towards war savings (if you so desired).
To encourage people to heed the stay at home message Councils provided free entertainment for their locals, such as open air dancing, gymkhanas, swimming events, fun fairs and even baby shows, activities which before the war would have been considered a little shocking, were soon to become respectable and even seen as patriotic.
The ministry of Food even produced a pamphlet (see part of it here) providing menus to help mothers get a bit of a break from the stress of feeding the family, one suggested picnic menu was "Mock hamburger wrapped in greaseproof paper and carried in a tin; green salad carried in a screw-top jar; bread and butter and sweet sandwiches (margarine, golden syrup, coffee and cocoa)" (Quote Source)
Though there are also many reports that not everyone was so keen to holiday in their own back yard, One such account comes from Edinburgh's Evening Dispatch, during the Scottish August bank holiday in 1942 many people chose to ignore this advice, see this article, which talks about the chaos at stations with overcrowding, queuing all night for trains and food shortages caused by mass arrival of tourists needing to be feed.
Peggy Franks prepares to throw a medicine ball to her friend Pinkie Barnes (not pictured) in the garden of her home, somewhere in London. She is wearing a swimsuit as the two friends have been sunbathing as part of their 'holiday at home'.
Pinkie Barnes and Peggy Franks compete in a ladies' doubles table tennis match. Peggy has just made a low backhand return.
|Peggy Franks competes in a table tennis match. She has just hit a forehand shot, and is awaiting the return of the ball.|
Private Christopher Murray, Peggy Franks, Aircraftman Jimmy Clark, and Pinkie Barnes enjoy a spot of rowing on the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park. Christopher and Peggy have an oar each, but Peggy seems to be having trouble with hers.
Four friends raise their tea cups in a toast to celebrate an afternoon's fun in Hyde Park, London. Left to right, they are: Aircraftman Jimmy Clark from Edinburgh, Pinkie Barnes, Private Christopher Murray from Cork and Peggy Franks.
And in case you fancy Holidaying like it is 1943 then you can always take a leaf out of Peggy & Pinkie 's book and have a viewing of Watch on the Rhine which stars the fabulous Bette Davis!
So Peggy and Pinkies 'Holiday at Home' seems like a lot of fun. A spot of sunbathing, a game or two of table tennis, lots of tea, some messing about in boats and a couple of rather dashing men in uniform, what more could a girl ask for!
Now for the first time in this series of posts, I have actually been able to find some more information on these two lovely ladies. It appears that Peggy and Pinkie were both accomplished Table Tennis players who played for England at competition level, during the war they joined forces and formed an exhibition partnership, they toured fires stations where they showed off their impressive TT skills.
Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' married Ronald Hook also a TT player, Here is a clip of Peggy at the English table tennis Championship (not sure what year) she later retired from the sport to raise a family but in 1960 she was featured on a Pathe news reel 'This Colourful World' You really must see what our Peggy was getting up to from her Faerie Glen factory in Walthamstow (my hometown, I wonder where it was!), it is delightful!!
Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty' actually born Lavender Rosamund Marguerite Barnes, as well as being an accomplished TT player she was also one of Britain's first female advertising copywriters, she married Sam Kydd a TV/Film actor, her son Johnathon Kidd (also a well know British TV/Film/Advert actor) you can read his account of his mother here and also see pictures of the fabulous Pinkie as she is today!
Since publishing this post I have now learnt that Pinkie has died at the age of 97, I found this fabulous article which I have quoted below as it gives us a much broader picture of her life and career
Lavender Rosamund Marguerite Barnes was born on April 18 1915 in Luton into a poor family of six; her father, George Barnes, was an alcoholic journalist, and her mother performed in music halls as Stellar Sinclaire. Determined to improve her lot, she took a variety of jobs on leaving school in Norwood at 15, eventually becoming secretary to the manager of the Chiswick Hippodrome. During the 1930s she was in a singing act called Sweet and Swing with her sister Shirley.
Starting just after the Second World War she made 11 appearances for England, taking part in Corbillon Cup table tennis internationals (World Team Championships) in London, Budapest and Stockholm. The London venue in 1948 was the Empire Pool, Wembley, in front of a sell-out crowd of 15,000 , and Pinkie Barnes was “shaking in her plimsolls” as she “gazed in awe at the size and noisy enthusiasm of the crowd”. Despite the jitters, she and her English team-mates went on to win , repeating their success in Paris from a year before. She was a key member of the team – a highly-effective chop backhand causing her opponents to dig the ball out high over the net, whence she would dispatch it with glee with her venomous forehand.
She took her looks equally seriously, declaring “the better I look, the better I play” and was regularly pictured with her doubles partner, Peggy Franks, in newspaper reports. In fire stations, where they played exhibition matches during the war to boost morale, they were promoted on posters as “Pinkie Barnes the Black Beauty [she had black hair] and Peggy Franks the Blonde Bombshell”. After the war Pinkie won the Dutch open singles on several occasions and was equally successful in Scandinavia, as well as playing for her county, Surrey.
In the 1950 world championships at Stockholm, having parted ways with Peggy Franks, she played doubles with the then world singles champion, the Hungarian Gizi Farkas, reaching the final. But the partnership did not endure – back in London, the allure of Selfridges proved too tempting after life in war-ravaged Hungary, and Farkas was deported for shoplifting.
In 1952, after her marriage to the actor Sam Kydd (who would go on to make more than 200 films and countless television appearances in the next 30 years), Pinkie Barnes gave up table tennis and concentrated on a career in advertising. She became a successful copywriter with Masius and Ferguson (one of the few women in the business at that time) working on the Ponds cream and Veet hair removal accounts among others.
Advertising ran in her family. One brother, Micky, was chairman of the Bensons agency, where Howard (Boogie) was a leading copywriter . Pinkie Barnes won an award for her catchline: “Veet. It’s always summer under your arms”. Another result of her career was that she practiced the Ponds neck and face anti-wrinkle exercises — “QXQXQX” spoken rapidly — all her life.
Pinkie Barnes continued to teach table tennis in Shepherd’s Bush well into her fifties and devoted the rest of her life to her husband’s busy career. She proved a highly able hostess to his showbusiness friends, who included Eric Sykes, John Mills, Trevor Howard, Harry Secombe, Harry Worth, Hattie Jacques, Jack Warner and Dirk Bogarde among many others. She was a fine poet and a stalwart of the Barnes poetry society in south-west London. (Quote Source: The Telegraph Pinkie Barns Obituary 4/10/2012)
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