This is a true account of what life was like for a poor working class family a hundred years ago. As 2014 begins thoughts of the First World War which began in 1914 looms large in the public conscience, but this book is not about the war but the people who scraped a living at home before it began, during its progress and shortly afterwards. This is viewed through the eyes of a small boy who sees his mother battling with his drunken father to provide food and clothing for her children.
The father selfishly keeps most of the meager money he earns from a variety of lowly jobs (some illegal) while the rest of the family make do with the crumbs he leaves behind or the mother is able to filch from him or earn herself. All the men come out badly in the book and it is the women who are the stars, keeping the family together insuring that they are brought up decently despite the hardships and the bad examples set by the men folk. Drink and fisticuffs seem to be the chief ways that the men deal with the drudgery of their like but the mother copes with this heroically and sometimes gives as goods as she gets in defending her household.
This is probably the way many poor families existed in the days before the welfare state which may well be how they would cope now through the current recession should it not exist. The story is well written and told but there is much there between the lines, which provide food for thought. I have heard that there maybe plans to turn the narrative into a stage play and wish those involved in this task every success as our accounts of life a hundred years ago should not just be about the Great War but also of the poverty that existed among the people left at home.
A Hoxton Childhood by A. S Jasper is published by Blinding Books and available in paperback for £5.99.
Editor, Peatmore Press