The preparations for the event were a buzz. The older boys and the men, not in the army, built an enormous bonfire and cut the grass of the field behind the houses with hand mowers. Every one of them had blistered hands. A piano was carried out there too – all set up beside an enormous bomb crater. Flags were hung out, or hand painted ones were placed in windows.
Fancy dress costumes were resurrected or made from linen from the cupboard – not much spare fabric about then. Tables were placed at the of the T road in a V shape for an afternoon children’s tea party, mothers having made cakes and sandwiches from saved ingredients. It was like the best birthday tea party ever, and the day was as warm as it is today. (I am not able to send the photos – laptop on its last legs!). The evening in the field was for the adults – singing all the songs of the wartime, which kept spirits high when it was grim, but were a celebration of the realisation ‘We’ll Meet Again’ etc.. The bonfire gave light for the dancing, singing and drinking. There were no thoughts of child minders – we were just happy to watch the celebration and drift off to bed when we could no longer stay awake.
I just remember my mother having lost her voice the following day – says it all, I think.
Note: The attached photo is actually of the Cambridge Street, Tunbridge Wells Street party – not provided by Stella but appropriate, I think. P