Saturday, 27 December 2014

Knitting and Shooting

From The Observer. 27th December, 1914.


Dinner parties are extinct as the Dodo in this new London; people dine together in twos and threes, and bring their knitting.  If they play bridge, the winnings go to the war funds. Only for those who come back on a couple of days' leave from the trenches is an effort at gaiety made; a play or a restaurant dinner and as much cheerfulness as can be got into the few hours of their stay among us.

It has been said of the Queen in old days that Her Majesty knitted at every spare moment: at meals, and in the evening when talking to anyone.  This may now be said of the major portion of the social world of London; every woman knits and most of the men.  Those who did not know before how to manipulate knitting needles have speedily learnt, and thousands of useful woollen garments—socks, comforters, belts and mittens — have been made in the West End and sent out to our troops in Northern France.

So much for London.  In the country the customary autumn house-parties, which in grouse districts begin in August and in partridge districts have their commencement in September were conspicuous by their absence.  Almost every suitable house was offered to the War Office as a hospital.  Some of them are empty still, but they are equipped and ready with all the necessities for sick and wounded.  Game must be shot, but partridges and pheasants, hares and rabbits go to hospitals, to camps, to the fleet.

[Although it doesn't say so openly, it seems that before the war the Queen had been thought a bit eccentric and perhaps old-fashioned for knitting in public - until everyone else joined in.

The account of what's going on in the country sounds a bit Downton Abbey (upstairs).   I'm not sure why all the game has to be shot - especially the hares.]  

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