Updated: May 30
In 1947, two years after the end of World War 2 and the same year that Shamus Dust is set, Gallup polled the British Public and asked what their no-expense-spared fantasy meal would be. Well it turned out that above all, most people in England wanted a good square meal like the ones they remembered before rationing started. According to Gallup the menu on the right here is what ordinary folk had in mind.
For most people, during and after the war, a meal like this was the stuff of dreams. And wine? You have to be kidding. Wine was for strictly for the toffs! Cigarettes though, you might smoke as many as you could afford or otherwise get hold of - all through the war and after, they were never rationed.
Set aside the dancing in the streets of England on 8 May 1945 as World War 2 ended, much of Europe was in ruins, it's people homeless and starving. And so rationing in England not only continued but battened down tighter for several years after the war as food and clothing, already short in England, went to feed the people they'd been fighting.
To make matters worse, the summer of 1946 brought so much rain that it ruined Britain's wheat crop. Bread rationing started.
Hard frosts and deep snows in the winter of 1946-1947 destroyed huge amounts of stored potatoes, vegetables and fruit. Potato rationing started.
Coal was in short supply and still rationed.
Then, as summer came on, transport and dock workers came out on strike, and until the Army broke the strike, much needed imported meat and fruit was left in warehouses or on the dock sides to rot.
Tea and sugar, eggs, meat and cheeses weren't freely available for another 7-9 years! And to cap it off, rationing of staples such as bread and potatoes - never really a problem during the war years - were now only available on ration.
Housewives went on queuing, quietly - and not so quietly - complaining and making do. Fathers and sons had to make do with even fewer sandwiches in their packed lunches. A generation of kids never knew what fish and chips were. Cakes were for bakery store windows. Chocolate just a memory for most people.
Check out these videos and websites for more on rationing
Energy Rationing 1945 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-6RYDZnOLA
Rationing in Britain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9wNJ78S2GY
On the ration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0438BC3t2dc
Rationing in the UK https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationing_in_the_United_Kingdom