In those days, the wireless was the thing. If you possessed one, you were ‘well-off’ – or in our parlance, a swank!
There were seven houses in Tan Open and, much to the delight and benefit of other residents, Number 3 possessed one! Just as soon as the clock made its way round to 1.00 pm (or 6.00 pm) the neighbours all made their way to Number 3, to hear the news of the war or listen to Churchill’s address.
My Granny Gribben, who lived across the road in Chapel Street with her son and three daughters had a wireless too – a Philco – and every night, just as sure as the stars came out, her neighbours, friends and others congregated at Number 13 to listen to yer man Lord Haw-Haw. He would open with the famous line,
‘Germany calling! Germany calling!’
Like yesterday I recall the consternation of all gathered there one night, when in his propaganda he numbered exactly the steps of Newry’s Lindsay Hill. He went on to relate the exact number of boats then anchored in the Albert Basin.
The next day all across Newry, little groups of people clustered to speculate on who might be the spies in our midst! If you weren’t local, you came under suspicion. Might it be Mickey and Barney, the vagrants, who came round the doors begging every Saturday?
There was a man and a woman singing in the streets the other day, begging for money. Could it be them? They were strangers – never seen before in this locality. Every one – I mean every one – who wasn’t a local was under suspicion.
Eventually our conversations returned to the more mundane things of life.
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