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With Europe slowly rebuilding from the ravages of War, and the holidays offering a respite from the plague of shortages and loss, this report, part of the weekly series London Letter, narrated by columnist and writer John Connell, gives some picture of life in Europe, and especially the UK during the holiday season in the months and years directly following World War 2.
Connell talks about food shortages for the holiday season, but how the seemingly rare Turkey manages to make an appearance on most Briton’s dinner tables for Christmas and/or Boxing Day. How the markets (butcher shops) were complaining miserably over the scarcity of the birds, while the Black Market was claiming to do brisk business. In comparison, he relays a story of the mysterious detachment of Russian troops, arriving in England at the beginning of World War 1 and how almost everyone who was around during the early days of The Great War swears to having seen them – although in reality, there was no such detachment and Russia never sent troops to the UK. So was the story that Turkeys were nowhere to be found, yet one appeared on most dinner tables somewhere between December 24th and 26th – power of suggestion, or the Black Market or the power of rumor.
Connell goes on to relate a personal story about an assignment he was given as a fledgling newspaper correspondent by an editor who knew for a fact that the Loch Ness Monster had been spotted, and all the newspapers in England were reporting these sightings. And so Connell was sent in search of a first-hand report on sightings of this legendary creature in the waters in Northern Scotland.
This is a capsule picture of what the week was looking like in Britain, and much of Europe, this Christmas season of 1948.