This may be the most famous of Priestley’s Postscript broadcasts on the BBC, certainly among the people of West Yorkshire.
Priestley told his listeners about the aftermath of an air-raid in Bradford, where he had grown up. He found the comparatively minor damage more shocking than anything he had seen in the London Blitz because, as he said, of the collision of “the safe and shining world of my childhood, and this lunatic and insecure world of today”.
But to Priestley’s delight, one of the most exciting shops of his boyhood had survived: a pie-shop, whose window featured a giant pie which mysteriously steamed all day. The shop window was boarded up, but through it, Priestley could glimpse “the great pie, still brown, crisp, succulent, and steaming away like mad. Every puff and jet of that steam defied Hitler, Goering and the whole gang of them. It was glorious”. In the broadcast, the pie became a symbol of everyday life and normality in defiance of the turmoil of the world, part of what Priestley called “the bright little thread of common humanity”.
He learned from the shop-owner that the pie had been put away in the back and so had escaped harm. The owner was at first brusque with Priestley, but after his wife recognised Priestley’s distinctive voice, he became more friendly and told Priestley the secret of the pie’s steam. Of course, Priestley could not share the secret with his listeners …
A Postscript to a Postscript: The shop was Roberts’ Pie Shop, and the air-raid took place on 31 August. Bradford fortunately escaped heavy bombing during the War: this raid caused a great deal of damage to property, including Rawson Market, the Odeon Cinema and Lingards department store, but few casualties. Sadly, although the shop and the pie survived the Blitz, they did not survive the postwar city centre redevelopment. The location is now part of the Kirkgate Centre.