Grandad’s Diary. 3rd February 1945

Entry for 3rd Fab

Went to Bruges. Shops full but very dear. Bought scents cosmetics. People well dressed and clean, wonderful complexions. Toured cafes at night but not worth. Beer same effect as water. Going to sites next week. People very sociable and tell of Jerry attrocities and greed.

A post of contrasts. A genteel picture is painted: prosaic shopping and contented people. Then a hint of a warning of action next week, against this background of terrible things that have happened.

After more than 2 weeks of entries, I finally see in this post that there is a word from my 70s and 80s comics – Jerry – British slang for the Germans in the 2nd World War.

The Belgians must have been watering down their beer for the various soldiers in their towns – everyone knows that Belgian beer is ridiculously strong. In fact Belgian Beer Culture has made the Unesco list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. They must have been hiding that from their visitors during World War II.

The comments about the ‘wonderful complexions’ is another hint of the contrast between occupied Europe – well off and well fed, despite the atrocities committed by the occupying forces – and Britain – deprived of vitamins, food beeing rationed and probably, in Grandad’s eyes, showing it in the quality of their skin.

I wonder if my Nanna was the recipient of the cosmetics that Grandad bought…

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