After her years in domestic service, Winnifred Foley married and started a family. But, while scraping a living as a charwoman in a north tenement, she longed for her home in the Forest of Dean and the cherished relatives she had left behind. Determined to give their children the rural upbringing she had enjoyed, Winnifred and her husband moved to an isolated, crumbling cottage not far from the Forest. Yet even in the 1950's they lacked heating or running water, and money was tight; food was largely home-grown, and their clothes were often hand-me-downs. It was a primitive life of hard work on the land, struggling to make ends meet and finding strength in the embrace of a loving family.
.... From the outer back cover
FIRST SENTENCE: Now we had come past Gloucester I began to believe it.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: Lally's philosophy was calm acceptance. 'If your number's on it you'll get it, so meanwhile, while you're waitin' for it, 'ave a good time. Enjoy a fag* an' a drop o'booze, gel, an' a bit o' the other'.
An enjoyable enough, nostalgic look at life during the 1950's where, despite much hardship life for Winnifred, her friends and family, seems rich despite money being short.
I found this memoir a truly fascinating read, to think so much has changed in such a relatively short period of time. The thing that sticks in my mind most being Winnifred's recollection of pregnancy.
'It was Nature's miracle, really, for that baby had drawn his sustenance from dry porridge oats, health salts, cider, and surreptitious sniffs of metal polish'
I mean can you imagine the outcry this would cause today with alcohol strictly banned during pregnancy and Winnifred labeled an abuser of solvents due to her surreptitious sniffing of the metal polish.
Funny and sad by turns, I could almost hear Winnifred telling her stories, laughing and crying as she did so. The only criticism being that I personally like my books to have chapters and Shiny Pennies didn't, which, after almost page after page of ceaseless type, was a little daunting, hurt the eyes and made the book seem an awful lot longer than its actual 294 pages.
Shiny Pennies And Grubby Pinafores was a gift.