Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Mass Obs

After a couple of failed attempts [i.e forgetting when it was on] over the last couple of years I finally caught the Housewife 49 programme during the most recent festive schedules. The book, "Nella Last's War", upon which the drama is based is a particular favourite of mine and I have reread it a few times. It fascinates me how Nella evolves as an individual, stretching her wings against the constraints of her quiet, home loving husband and her "nerves" to meet the difficult challenges that the war forced people to face. In peace times maybe she would have buckled under the pressure but instead she rose magnificently to the occasion and inspired those around her.

Nella was part of the mass observation project that started in 1937. It was designed to capture the social history of the everyday person as they anonymously recorded their thoughts on what they saw going on around in the world around them aswell as their everyday lives. It has left us with an incredible archive which can be viewed by prior appointment at The Keep, University of Sussex. It was relaunched in 1981 and Observers continue to send in their written views. You can make your own voice heard by applying here http://www.massobs.org.uk/ To ensure that they draw from as wide an audience as possible certain criteria are applied so that not too many from one category are involved at any one time.

As for Nella Last, this is my favourite quote and sums up her attitude towards life:
"Of course, living today is in every way more exciting and thrilling; but where today it's as if people snatch a piece of rich Christmas cake and eat it, with creamed coffee, on top of a good dinner, we took our cake and ate it slowly, savouring each mouthful and finding time to think how wonderful it was that the ingredients came from so many different far-off places." Saturday, 27th January, 1940


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