Not sure here

You might know the banana story. During the second world war, Evelyn Waugh\’s wife managed to procure three bananas for their children. When she brought the fruit home, Evelyn sat down in front of the children, peeled the bananas, poured on cream and sugar, and ate them all.

Umm, well, that\’s not the way I\’ve heard it.

It was post WWII and the new Labour Government procured bananas, one for each child in the Kingdom. A celebration of it all being over. But Evelyn, being made of stern stuff, wasn\’t going to have some damn socialists bribing his own children.

And quite right too.

13 thoughts on “Not sure here”

  1. You’re right, it was post-war. My late father used to tell a story about the same event. After the war he went up to Oxford at the age of 17. He was at college dinner one evening when the Rector solemnly asked all those who were legally minors to come up to High Table and collect their government banana. It was a great event; scarcely anyone had seen a banana since 1939. So my father and about four others had to walk past the ironic cheers of their fellow students, many of whom were, of course, soldiers, sailors and airmen who had returned to study after long years spent fighting for their country (but didn’t get any bananas), take the banana and sheepishly shuffle back to their places to eat it, if they remembered how to peel one first.

  2. Auberon Waugh tells the story. Don’t know what “quite right too” means, but his children remembered it as a gross act of selfishness, really a defining one. if he had a point about socialist bribing, he could have made it and shared the banana with his kids too. horrible man and horrible father (though very enjoyable), QED.

  3. Q: “Why don’t the hoi polloi support libertarianism?”
    A: “This post”.

    FFS, if you’re really such a doctrinaire nutjob that *allowing your kids to join a day of national celebration by letting them eat a fucking banana* is morally abhorrent to you, you shouldn’t be allowed out in public.

    Natalie – interesting, but very different, story. If the rector of the college hadn’t been a total arsehole, he could easily have asked all the legal minors in college before the event whether they preferred to claim their banana, or reject it on the grounds that it’d make them look like daft children to accept, and then solely humiliated the ones who insisted on claiming it. And, when none of them actually did claim, he could’ve had the cooks make a banana salad to be consumed solely by the college’s most heroic members…

    Instead, he was an arsehole for no reason (or, more likely, took out his grumpiness at Labour’s election win on some random 17-year-olds who really didn’t deserve it).

  4. john b, Waugh wasn’t a libertarian arsehole. I doubt he knew the word. (Libetarian, that is, I’m fairly sure he was familiar with the word “arsehole”). He was a Tory arsehole and proud of it.

    To be fair to the college rector, my dad told this as a funny story. I can’t remember his exact words but I got the impression that the ironic cheers I mentioned were fairly good-humoured and it was embarrassing but not actually humiliating. I also got the impression that the rector himself was fairly excited by the sight of a banana.

  5. Some googling supplied a mild suggestion that bloke concerned was a bit of a lefty: given a chairmanship by Rab Butler, honorary president of the Australian NUS.

    Not that I’m trying to make any particular point here – I’m finding the history and atmosphere of the immediate postwar period very interesting at the moment and need little prompting to follow links relating to it. Optimism, austerity, anticlimax.

  6. Would n’t be too sure how right wing Waugh was.All the upper-classes are depicted as idiots ,unless redeemed by a very narrowly defined Catholicism.There is a certain amount of arts and craftiness in there as well.

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    Ambrose Murphy – “Auberon Waugh tells the story. Don’t know what “quite right too” means, but his children remembered it as a gross act of selfishness, really a defining one.”

    Auberon Waugh even said something along the lines of not taking anything his father said on morality seriously ever again.

    “horrible man and horrible father (though very enjoyable), QED.”

    I am glad that you clarified that it was the books and not the man that was enjoyable. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Everything I have heard or read about Auberon Waugh says he was a nice person. However I did not know him.

  8. It does show how comprehensively cocked the UK was after six years of war and then voting for a Labour government: that a country that still had extensive possessions in parts of the world where bananas are grown could only just drum up enough to give one to every child. As I pointed out in another comment, meat didn’t even come off the ration until 1954 and it was a significant factor in the defeat of Attlee’s government.

  9. Natalie – I’m well aware of Waugh’s politics, but Tim was quoting him approvingly as Someone With A Shared Interest In Hating The Socialists. Also, interesting on the rector – I completely picked up the wrong tone from your story on first reading…

    DBC – surely “the Protestant upper classes are decadent; only the Catholic upper classes are worth bothering with” is *even more* conservative, given the nature of the two institutions?

    David – the thing is, we had to sell everything else exciting we grew overseas (and, indeed, most of the things we made at home) to the Americans in order to pay back the massive debt they’d stuck us with. That’s also why rationing persisted so long, and indeed got worse after the war, despite significant and sustained increases in GDP: the whole bloody lot went on ensuring the Yanks could enjoy the amazing rises in living standards that they experienced during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

  10. So Much For Subtlety – I’m wondering if you left out a “not” in your penultimate sentence.

    john b, my impression is that our host said “quite right too” half in parody of his own toff tendencies.

    The Evelyn Waugh story is appalling but also funny, in the way that Blackadder hitting Baldrick is funny.

  11. @jb
    Books like Brideshead show the Catholic landed gentry to pretty appalling too:the mother Teresa (oh my gawd) Marchmain is pious and manipulative ,makes her husband run-off and set up with a mistress (Carla) inVenice, and so wears down Sebastian with a sense of duty that he becomes a hopeless inebriate who can only find redemption in humbling himself to Kurt his self- wounded lover.The heir to the family fortune is an autistic,stamp collecting prig who won’t have his much older fiancee stay in the same house as unmarried lovers.Lady Marchmain more or less bribes Sebastian’s tutor to spy on him,sending him even more off the edge.

    Sword of Honour ,also about Catholics, is also very critical of their mores,especially when the protagonist announces to his divorced wife that he can make love to her because she is still his wife in the eyes of the Church.She is revolted. Things only come right for this geezer when he accepts this wife’s illegitimate son by the height-of- common Trimmer as his own and heir to the family property.

  12. john b: I know why we had to do it, and it probably beat being overrun by Nazis. But it was still a huge factor in why Attlee got the boot. I remember, as a youngster growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s being admonished that I was putting a week’s jam ration on my bread. For all the good it did, pointing out that German U-boats were on our side now wasn’t an option. I might just as well have said my sister shouldn’t get her crinolines so close to the fire or, lawks a mussy, she’d be burnt to a cinder.

    The topper was that Grauniadista (was it the Lucas woman?) a few weeks ago saying how much better it was when all you had meat-wise was a half-pound of horseflesh and eeh we was right glad of it an’ all.

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