It may be springtime again, but – in 1916 - there’s not a lot to be optimistic about. Many of those who can are heading for Canada. Many of those who can’t are “somewhere in France”, either voluntarily or otherwise. On the short voyage from London to Rotterdam, a ship laden with gold has fallen victim to a mine. Further afield, though, there is better news: the Russians claim to be making headway in Mosul, and in Syria, thanks to a show of British airborne and naval might, the town of El Arash has been “blown to ruins”.
And here in Penzance? This afternoon, at St John’s Hall, Mrs Tupper will be opening the Patriotic Housekeeping Exhibition. There’s plenty of time to look round, then after tea the events get underway. In need of a new hat? There’s a millinery demonstration first, to show us just what we can do with those bits and pieces we have lying about the house. And then, once we’re all sitting comfortably thinking of our trimmings and veilings, on to the serious business.
Winning the war, you see, is all about food. There just isn’t enough to go round, despite ploughing up the Recreation Ground and the seafront gardens to produce wheat. The enemy have the same problem, but go at it by wholesale commandeering of supplies and re-distributing at fixed prices. Here in Britain, we prefer to work by consent, and the communication of bright ideas. And that is exactly what will be happening this evening.
First, there’s a half hour talk on Food Values by a lady from the Board of Education. Then it’s straight on to Hay Box Cookery, followed by Economical Meat Dishes to round off the evening. Then tomorrow, bread making – and to lighten the tone, a baby competition and a laundry demonstration by the school children. Saturday, more specialist topics: starching collars, the importance of temperance (every scrap of produce sold to the brewers, remember, could be used for an honest square meal), and using up those leftovers.
Admission to the talks this evening is only 2d. That’s a third of what you’d pay for the cheapest seats at the Pavilion to see Just Us, the “music, song, story and impersonations”. Trivial entertainment, or new ways to help the war effort? Your choice, ladies; your choice.
Cornishman May 25th 1916, pages 2, 3 and 5