Our Century

How do you eat a banana?

Bryan Summers, Norton Canes,
Born 1938

Bryan Summers

"The day war broke out . . . Well not quite, but the voice of Rob Wilton still echoes across the years. And it is voices, not faces, that evoke the memories.

"My father waking me in the middle of the night as the Fuhrer did his best to blast Birmingham to bits: Time to go down to the cellar, son . . .'

"My own voice sobbing when my parents wouldn't let me watch the bombs falling. The clamour of neighbours as we emerged one day to find our doors and windows blown out.

"Later, more voices as the wireless became the heart of the home. Rob Wilton patiently explaining how he and five chums would repel the Nazi hordes. Tommy Handley, punnery officer in chief, spitting out his humour like a machine gun. And Valentine Dyall, terror personified as the Man in Black.

"Television, when it came, was a novelty, nothing more. Something you went next door to watch because your parents couldn't afford one.

"Certainly no serious rival to the radio. Or to the local fleapit (front seats six old pence) where the likes of Jimmy Cagney, George Raft and Edward G tommy-gunned their way to the electric chair.

"Tastes still linger, too. The taste of dried egg (pleasant), whalemeat (revolting), and something called snoek - whatever that was.

"The arrival of the first banana was a talking point for days - we really did have to be shown how to eat it. And of course there was the glorious day when sweets finally went off ration.

"His face is long-forgotten, but I can still hear the local shopkeeper saying: "Yes, you can have as many as you like."