Tuesday, 5 January 2010

My mother - her part in WWII

We spent New Year happily up in the Midlands, at my parents' place. Djangolina is doing WWII next term as a history project and was keen to quiz her grandparents on their memories of the conflict. Much of this I had already heard quite a few times over, but my mother came out with a tale I'd quite honestly never heard before.

I knew about her role lighting a fake flarepath to encourage the Luftwaffe to bomb her aunt's village in Somerset, but her activities as a fifth-columnist guide to the last successful invasion of Birmingham had not been told before, at least not in my presence.

You have to bear in mind that my mother grew up in The Last House In Worcestershire - the bottom of their garden was the boundary with the City of Birmingham, which is traditionally Warwickshire. Our side - Black Country (Hooray!); over there - Brummies (Boo, hiss). Though outsiders are pressed to recognise a difference, the border is obvious and major to the peoples of Worcestershire and Staffordshire.

Anyway, some brass hat decided it would be a spiffing idea to give the Home Guard some useful practice at setting up road blocks by ordering the Worcestershire Home Guard to invade Birmingham. The Brummies thus set up positions on all the major roads leading into Birmingham, a fact obvous to anyone who had just walked past them up the end of their road on the way to school in Halesowen, such as my mother and her friend Ann. And just down the road they met a column of Worcestershire Home Guard advancing purposefully up Mucklow's Hill.

For reasons we had probably better not probe too deeply, the Worcestershire Home Guard fell into conversation with two gymslip-clad pubescent girls, who informed them brightly that "the Brummies had set up a road block just up ahead, and was that anything to do with you? Because we can show you a way round through the backstreets if you give us a ride..."

Birmingham was deemed by the umpires to have fallen before lunch.

In her defence, my mother was at pains to point out that she was helping her own side invade the cess-pit of evil and filth that was, and shall ever remain, Bromycham, rather than aiding and abetting an invader.


Gadjo Dilo said...

Job done, your mum should be proud! ("Bromycham"? Is that the same as Brummagem or Babycham??)

No Good Boyo said...

You've just come up with the world's least appetising drink. To be advertised by Jasper Carrott (not his lovely daughter).

Did the Home Guard annex parts of B'ham, or simply exact reparations?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Bromycham, we've got to market this, I perceive that it may be a niche in the soft-drinks market! A chicken balti-flavoured version of Irn Bru sold in tiny bottles with a picture Our Jasper dressed as a Disney dwarf on the label.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

My late former MIL who lived in Staffs used to call it "Burningham".

Gyppo Byard said...

Gadjo bor - Bromycham is the old name for the town as found on Tudor maps (a mere village while Dudley was a borough with a castle, I might remaind everyone), usually rendered phonetically as 'Brummagem'.

Boyo - The Worcestershire forces merely exacted reparations, denominated in pints. As for your mockery of sophisticated Midland drinks, some day I shall offer you the heady delights of a Birmingahm cocktail (half a pint of mild with a pickled egg in it).

Dapphers - tell me whether she pronounced in 'Burningham' or "Baerningham" and I'll tell you which end of Staffs she was from.

Prenderghast said...

The last time Warks lost to Worcs before lunch, I'll warrant.

Of course, it's all West Midlands now, except for Solihull, which is still twinned with Rhodesia.

Gyppo Byard said...

Now now Mr Prenderghast - Warks only achieve cricketing success when importing their talent from across the globe, whereas Norman Giffard lived in Stourbridge. Or was it Ormerod? Old men forget, but the burnished memory of dappled sunlight through the oakleaves at New Road, overlooked by the cathedral across the Severn, shall never wither. I shall now take a blue pill and lie down for a bit.

Ann O'Dyne said...

Allo Allo It's Dads' Army.
Loved this story thanks for sharing, and have enjoyed reading down to here from June 2011. Drawn here by the link to you at PEARL blog, I curtsey before your title.