Travelling through time | Jabbering Journo column

An extract from the diary
An extract from the diary

This week I was reading my grandmother’s diary from 1945-46.

It was an exciting time for granny - then a young woman in the flush of love and living at the end of the war back in India with her cotton-factory family, where she was cocooned and bored with life - mixture of war work as a nurse, charity parties and pining for a more exciting life.

She had met her handsome RAF pilot (my grandfather - she calls him by his RAF nickname Dinga) at a party on a houseboat on the lakes of Kashmir and they eventually wed.

Now finally, after long periods of separation where she wondered if he would ever return from his highly confidential flight missions - and the war finally over - they were to be reunited and packing had begun for the long voyage back to her family’s native northern home in Wilmslow, kept throughout the multi- generational stint in India, where granny was born.

I just happened to be reading this through the week, coinciding with the collapse of Thomas Cook and its awful fallout - and it struck me how far we have come with travel.

We do all take for granted that ability to book flights and be in a strange, foreign world in a matter of hours - even India itself is accessible in just 10-11.

My grandmother diaries her journey from Bombay via South Africa.

Fleeing rising revolts against the cotton raj and post-war disruption to an England attempting to recover from the hardships of war took the best part of a month.

They arrived in Durban and then Cape Town after a week at sea where she is all astonishment at ‘the things in the shops’ before re-embarking for the long haul to England, taking in Christmas and New Year where the greatest excitement on board was a game of Rummy and the regular ship safety exercises

A fear of other vessels was still inherent in a post-war crew and passengers, traumatised by loss and separation.

Despite her undeniable benefit of being a well-off member of the cotton elite at the time, the travelling was deeply uncomfortable and illness common.

We’ve come a long way.

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