Christmas 1914

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg


Winter of 1914, we made a parcel for Albert – a block of Ma’s sherry-soaked Christmas cake, two packs of Woodbines, a bar of Fry’s chocolate and a hat she’d knitted herself.

‘He’ll need summat warm over there.’ She caressed the stitches, brown and thick as our Albert’s flop of hair.

I hadn’t told her what I’d heard whispered down the pub – the ankle deep water, the bodies lain still and stiff in No Man’s Land till bombs turned them to Flanders mud … the rats.

She slipped a card in too, signed ‘your loving Mother’.

‘That’ll warm him.’ I tried to smile.

***

First written for Friday Fictioneers. Visit here to see what you’re missing.

Notes

Woodbines – at the time, a popular brand of cigarettes mad by the Wills tobacco company here in Bristol. Cigarettes helped with morale in the trenches and were also used as currency.

I was going to use the brand name Five Boys chocolate but didn’t quite have the word count. Five Boys was made by Fry and Son – another Bristol company – and was famous for the image on the front of the wrapper.

14 thoughts on “Christmas 1914

  1. Woodbines, now there’s a memory, and Fry’s chocolate. Frys seemed to have been popular with the army. Or at least I only ever had it when my father brought it home from his T.A. nights.
    As ever, a mega-story in minimal words, oozing with meaning and feeling.

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    1. Thank you Crispina. Yes, Woodbines – I remember them from my youth, though even then they were mainly an older man’s fag, along with Park Drive, remember those? Younger people were smoking Benson and Hedges and Silk Cut by then. Not sure when they discontinued Four Boys but that advert was iconic, wasn’t it, that suggestion that all your child’s tantrums could be cured with chocolate. No one would be able to advertise like that now! Thanks so much for reading

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      1. I remember Senior Service too. Fella in a uniform (Navy?) driving a car. And No 6 & No 10, and coupons to be collected, like green shield stamps.
        Now we are raking through the deepest embers. 🙂

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      2. Haha! The nation’s smoking past hangs heavy in this part of Bristol. Not only was the port the home of the Wills tobacco company, we have a couple of their old tobacco factories here, grand red brick buildings now converted into shops, a theatre, restaurants. Apparently the Wills factory girls (for it was often women making the fags) received part of their wages in cigarettes. No wonder south Bristol still has a lot of smokers!

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      3. Yea, I should have realised. An old friend of mine did a stint in a cigar factory, but that was in Ipswich. Yet somewhere lurking in their deepest recess of my ancient brain, I did know that of Bristol. It figures, doesn’t it. And you’re not too far away from the chocolate empire either. Norwich has shoes and boots, and silks and worsteds. A sole shoe factory remains, and that’s small/ Changes, hey. Even Norwich Union insurance is called something different now. And we did have Caley’s Chocolate, that became Machintosh, then got taken over by Nestle, who moved everything to France or Belgium (or someplace), but the workers bought out the machinery (if this brain is holding out right) and now manufacture chocolate under the old name of Caleys. Wow! And then, of course, there’ Colman’s Mustard.
        But I don’t like in Norwich now. And what has Yarmouth got? Not a lot. It did have Smith’s Crisps. And silk mills.

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      4. Sadly, most of our chocolate production has gone elsewhere too. We used to have Fry’s, of course and a Cadbury factory. Now a company called Guilbert’s is the only one left. But as you say, everything gets taken over by a bigger company eventually. One day everywhere will all be owned by Unilever and United Biscuits

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  2. Perfect re-blog of your own post for the holidays, Lynn.
    Hope you are enjoying your time away from the blogosphere!
    Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thank you Dale. It was a lovely Christmas, but is it wrong of me to yearn for the house to myself so I can get back to my writing routine? How I miss my keyboard when I’m away from it! Thank you so much for dropping by

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh heck no! It is not. My dad was funny. He wanted his girls, sons-in-law, grandkids over that meant 14 of us) but lemme tell you, when we went to get our coats, he could not suppress his happiness 😉

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