J.B. Priestley began his Postscript broadcasts at a time of great danger for Britain: Dunkirk. This broadcast was made at another terrible time, as mass bombing designed to break the nerve of the population took its toll across the country. “Autumn is with us, and the shadow of winter already darkening the horizon”.
Now more than ever Priestley emphasised the value of arts, recreation, entertainment, all the things that made life rich and worth defending. “We mustn’t allow ourselves to be reduced to living on an ever-narrowing edge of wartime existence, with nothing to think about but planes and tanks and guns”. Hard work, of course, but also “high jinks”, a Lancashire phrase according to Priestley. He had been visiting the North West of England so the piece has some nice asides about Lancashire – from a Yorkshireman.
He ended the broadcast with another of his memorable vignettes of everyday life: the story of a woman who owned a cafe in Liverpool, who accepted hat bands from French Fleet sailors in lieu of payment for cakes, to the delight of the customers. Not good military discipline, but fun. “If a hundredth part of the goodwill and sense shown at the little cafe round the corner were imported into our international affairs, …then all these chest-thumping screaming lunatics, and all their insane paraphenalia of destruction, would vanish …”