Keep calm and carry on regardfully10 April 2020
Howard Bradley says history can teach life lessons as he draws parallels with the current crisis and WW2
As I sit typing this Howard’s Way following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the people on television telling people to stay indoors, I suspect that it comes as a wake-up call to a lot of people just how serious the situation really is.
In the 65 years since the end of the Second World War we have gradually let life get in the way of us actually living it. Business comes first and of course paying the ever increasing bills and so on.
Before and during WW2 my grandfather on my Mother’s side was a milliner, and a very good one, with a factory that supplied C & A with a major line in ladies and gents hats. He also drove an ambulance in London during the Blitz, a very dangerous voluntary unpaid job.
One night, during an air raid on London by the Luftwaffe his factory and business took a direct hit and was totally obliterated from existence. One minute it was there, next minute it was gone. No Government help or 80% wages paid, it was a fact of life back then and all resources were needed to fight the war.
After the war, he started again, single handedly and built the business up again. He was not rich and insurance did not cover acts of war so he could not claim for the loss of premises or stock.
My grandmother on my dad’s side also lived in London and was in a shop when the entire building and those around it disintegrated as they were hit by a German V1 Flying Bomb, known as the Doodlebug.
You could hear the pulsating drone of the Doodlebug’s engine followed suddenly by silence as the engine cut out and it plummeted towards its target.
They managed to dig my grandmother out of the rubble eventually and all she did was to brush herself down and walk off towards home insisting that she needed to make tea.
My late dad (bless his memory) had his 18th birthday on Sunday 3 September 1939 and he was alone at home when the announcement was made by Neville Chamberlain that Great Britain was at war with Germany. On Monday 4 September 1939, Dad enlisted into the Royal Air Force, (his older brother having joined in 1938 as a trainee fighter pilot).
Less than 16 weeks after dad joined, he found himself with the RAF in North Africa and neither of the Bradley boys saw home again for five years.
In 1945, the business known as Bradleys was virtually non-existent. With both sons in the services overseas during the war and with my paternal grandfather already being in his mid to late sixties and in poor health urgent action was needed. My dad got an old (old even then) Austin Seven and took fabric swatches from London to all parts of the country in order to get the business going again.
Of course rationing was still on, people had no money, let alone spare money and Keep calm and carry on regardfully people had to make do and mend and so Bradleys concentrated more on providing a tailoring and repair service and also specialist cleaning.
Dad’s hard work and determination meant that from that time until his retirement, he managed to revive the name Bradleys and in London it was a destination of choice for many people.
I have not written this as a history of the Bradleys, but just wanted to illustrate that be it a a Pandemic, a war or a plague of locusts, human endeavour will always triumph in the end.
So, the very best thing that we can all do is to stop worrying about what we cannot Control in the current situation, counting loss of customers etc as they isolate and tp focus on things that you do have control of. Making sure that you and your family are as safe and isolated as possible is a start, and if you have to work, ensure that you are fully protected.