Workers and sparklers, parkin and Pif (Object 54)

Daily Worker 3rd November 1965

The Daily Worker, 3rd November 1965

Here’s another copy of the Daily Worker. I found this one, dated November 3rd 1965, carefully folded away in a file, so it had clearly been kept for a reason (as opposed to the one I featured earlier, which had been  stuffed behind a door panel). I read through the whole paper, which was interesting but yielded nothing significant for me, beyond an article about whisky measures. My Dad did like an occasional dram but was unlikely to have kept this paper just for that. So I filed it away again and thought no more of it until I was raking around for something relating to Bonfire Night, and the Children’s Corner of this faded newspaper caught my eye:

Children's Corner Bonfire NightThere has been a Bonfire Night themed poetry and art competition in the Children’s Corner, with the winning entries published here. I hadn’t read this bit of the paper before, but now I understand why my parents had kept it: there is Brother 1’s name in print, for winning the 2nd prize of 10 shillings for his art work, aged 8. They must have been very proud!
It seems surprising that the Daily Worker would mark the celebration of  Guy Fawkes’ execution – perhaps that’s why it refers to “Bonfire Night” and not “Guy Fawkes night”. My Communist parents certainly had no qualms about celebrating Bonfire Night, and we always had a bonfire and fireworks in the garden. Mum would make the seasonal Parkin ginger cake and treacle toffee treats remembered from her Yorkshire childhood; sometimes we made toffee apples too. I’ve recently unearthed a notebook my best friend Briony gave me for my 11th birthday in 1972 (I know this because she inscribed it at the time!) into which I copied favourite  recipes, including this one:

Recipe book

Mum’s Parkin recipe

I have very fond memories of those bonfire nights in the garden of our home, of Dad “lighting the blue touchpaper” and hastening to safety, of potatoes baked in tinfoil in the embers of the fire. But what stands out most clearly in my memory is the tortoiseshell-and-white face of our spirited family cat, Frisky, peering out of the window. Outraged at being shut in the living room and missing all the fun, she would watch the flying hissing fireworks as if they were birds to be chased, and scratch at the window in her desire to get out and play with the Catherine wheels and Roman candles. Pets traumatised by fireworks? Not Frisky, it was all we could do to keep her away from them!

Returning to the Daily Worker, here’s another memory. In my earlier post I mentioned that I agreed with Alexei Sayle (who was also raised by Communists and wrote about his early life in his book Stalin Ate My Homework) that the cartoon, Pif, was a bit dull compared with, say, the Beano. Sayle writes in his book: “I don’t know if Pif was funny in his native language, but he sure as hell wasn’t funny in English and frequently didn’t even make any sense. As I became fascinated by existentialism I sometimes wondered whether leading French Communist philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre hadn’t taken a turn at doing Pif, so arcane did his adventures seem”.
Here’s an example from this 1965 edition of the paper – click on the image to enlarge it, and judge for yourselves!

Pif cartoon


About Hoarder of Babylon

A chartered librarian and curator of my family archives.
This entry was posted in 1960s, Dad, Mum, Newspapers and magazines, Parents and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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