God and ASDA

Stories and thoughts: past, present and future

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Winter 1947

It’s January 1947 and I’m 4½ years old. During the winter of 1946–47 the UK experienced several cold spells, beginning on 21 January 1947, bringing the severest snowfalls for 150 years to the country. Roads were closed and railways became blocked. Coal supplies, already low following the Second World War, struggled to get through to power stations and many were forced to shut down due to lack of fuel. The government introduced several measures to cut power consumption, including restricting domestic electricity to 19 hours per day and cutting industrial supplies completely. Radio broadcasts were limited, and some magazines were ordered to stop being published; newspapers were cut in size. Public morale was very low due to these measures and the Minister of Fuel and Power received death threats and had to be placed under police guard. Towards the end of February there were also fears of a food shortage as supplies were cut off and vegetables frozen into the ground.

Imagine frost on the inside of the bedroom windows! We had no central heating, just one coal fire in the front room. At night Mum would find as many blankets as she could, after which it was coats to keep us warm. The bedroom floor was covered in linoleum, not carpet, so our feet felt as if they would stick to the cold floor when we walked. I recall going with Mum to the coal merchant and pretending that I was someone else’s little girl so that Mum could get an extra bag of fuel. So two bags of coal were loaded into the baby’s pram (he wasn’t in it at the time!)

It was grim! It has gone down in history as one of the severest winters in living memory. However, as I was such a small child it hardly seemed to affect me. I don’t remember going without food, but it must have been very hard for my parents.

One thing I do remember with vivid clarity was the time I was stuck in a snow drift up to my armpits. Now, you might think that’s hilariously funny (I do, now!) but for a 4½ year old it was terrifying. I’d been sent out to play so that Mum could “get on with things” (probably connected to my seven-month old brother). So, off I went on my adventure. I have no idea what I was thinking about but I can remember a sudden “sinking” feeling. Apparently I’d stepped where there was a snow-covered ditch and down I went. When I think now of what might have happened I am horrified but I must have shouted or cried so loudly that someone came along and pulled me out.

I’m not sure to this day whether I received loving cuddles or not when I arrived home soaking wet, frozen cold and a very unhappy bunny.

I love reminiscing about my childhood as it makes me reaslie just how fortunate we are these days.

We’ve been warned that this winter may well be as bad as 1947, but, even if that transpires to be true, we will have a better time of it than we did 67 years ago.

How our lives have changed since then. And most of us, including myself, take so much of it for granted. Heating, lighting, carpets, well-stocked shops and supermarkets. We really have it all.

So, please, if you’re reading this and you are living where there is plenty, spare a thought for those people, even in Europe and America, who have little or nothing to look forward to this Christmas because of poverty.

And thank God for what you have!!


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It’s Raining Again!

How many times in the past year must those words have been uttered here in the U.K., I wonder?

We are experiencing some of the worst weather on record with floods and low temperatures almost non-stop throughout 2012, and still it continues into 2013. It’s been unseasonably cold most days and when the sun comes out it’s gone again in minutes.

Not that I’m complaining, you understand! However, it has served to remind me how fortunate we are living in this part of Britain. Even today there are places further north that still have remnants of a blizzard earlier in the week. So, be thankful for what you have (or don’t have!)

When we were kids we used to love the rain. “Put your wellies on!”, Mum would call as we ventured out. Splashing in puddles, making boats from fallen leaves and having races (making sure the other person didn’t deliberately sink yours!), creating dams thereby blocking the rainwater. Simple, but fun. We would build a shelter by bending branches of small bushes, and we’d have secret meetings in there. (Usually girls in one and boys in another). And afterwards, returning home, probably soaking wet and covered in mud, to a nice warm fire and crumpets with Golden Syrup on top for tea . (In the Midlands these are known as pikelets – don’t ask me why!).

(Life was certainly less stressful then!).

Talking about rain, I love the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis chapters 6 to 9). It’s probably one of the first stories that children learn in school or Sunday school and in book shops and toy stores everywhere can be found stories and toys relating to this wonderful story.

I find it almost impossible to imagine how big the Ark must have been in order to contain two of every kind of creature. We’re told in the Bible that it was about 140 metres long, 23 metres wide and 13.5 metres high. (I was brought up in times of feet and inches, so that must be approximately 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high) – now that’s HUGE! and Noah built it with only the plans given to him by God, the Great Architect. He had no Site Manager; nor any delivery trucks bringing the wood and pitch. What he used he had to acquire himself and, with the aid of his sons, build the Ark according to the plan given him by God. The people around laughed at him – but he and his family were the only ones to survive the Flood

Noah had no SatNav to guide him, nor any idea how long they would be incarcerated, but in faith he did as he was told.

Most of us know that after forty days it stopped raining, Noah sent out a raven. The Flood had covered the whole earth so there was no living thing left. The bird returned with nothing on two occasions, but then Noah sent out a dove. The dove brought back an olive branch, to show that the water was abating. He sent it out again and again until it didn’t return. Noah then knew that it was time to leave the Ark.

And God promised that never again would He cover the earth with water. He made a rainbow as a sign of His promise.

What a wonderful story of obedience, faith and trust in God.

Why not re-read this wonderful story again – and put yourself right there in the Ark with Noah and his family.