What was love like during the Blitz and the War

January 22, 2016
▪ 8 mins read

I ask my 93 year old grandmother about how love was 75 years ago...

I ask my 93-year-old grandmother about how love was 75 years ago...

In this very special podcast episode I had the best guest ever! You’re going to learn so much. And this is a crazy idea I cooked up on the train down to Cornwall, where I’m from, for Christmas. And that was to get my grandmother, who is the grand old age of 93. So, basically, she was a young woman during the Blitz and the War, youngish. So, I thought what would be really fantastic is to get some advice and inspiration about what dating and love and men and women and relationships and society was like all that time ago. Because, I kind of believe that we’re missing something now, and maybe we haven’t got it right or as right as we had done at certain points in the past.

Welcome to the show, Nanny Moo!

Nanny Moo: Hello. I’m Nanny Moo.  

Hayley Quinn: Amazing. So what I want to say is -- just to begin with, can you tell me a little bit about what dating was like during the War? Did people go on dates with one another? Or, if you went on one date, was that it? Did you have to get married to the person?  

Nanny Moo: Oh, certainly not, no. You went on a date. The idea was, then, of course, you courted, didn’t you? It’s not like it is now, all over and done with. No. You courted; you went on several dates.  

Hayley Quinn: And what was the courtship? What kind of things did you do on those dates?  

Nanny Moo: Dancing, ice skating, and mainly that, really. Dancing and ice skating. Because there wasn’t much eating. You had to go out with the older men to get eating.  

Hayley Quinn: Oh, right.  

Nanny Moo: Because they knew the clubs and that. But, if you went out with a young fellow, you usually went dancing. Or there were the pictures, of course.  

Hayley Quinn: And what were the men like back then? Do you think they’re better than the ones we have today?  

Nanny Moo: Well, I don’t really the ones you’ve got today, do we? I do think the ones today expect a little bit too much. And I suppose those who were courting at the time -- it was a different generation. They didn’t expect -- did they? -- to go out and get what they wanted on one night. They didn’t expect that, did they?  

Hayley Quinn: No.  

Nanny Moo: Of course, if they wanted it, I suppose they had to work at it. But I’m afraid I was brought up to know that, well, if I wasn’t a virgin, I wouldn’t get married. So you didn’t throw it around.  

Hayley Quinn: And do you think that was good advice?  

Nanny Moo: No, not later, no. Because I think, perhaps, I would’ve tried it out before I got married. But I was married [ciph -- and then, in those days, you didn’t get divorced, did you?  

Hayley Quinn: Nope.  

Nanny Moo: No divorce in those days. Not so easy. You just had to grin and bear it, didn’t you? Which we did. I mean, the women did everything, and the men just went to work, didn’t they?  

Hayley Quinn: Yeah.  

Nanny Moo: Not like today. The men will turn their hand to those things, but not then. No. No. Oh, no. No.  

Hayley Quinn: And what were the women like? What was considered beautiful? Or was there anything -- because you had sisters, right? Weren’t they quite...  

Nanny Moo: They were beautiful. I was the plain one.  

Hayley Quinn: Right.

The "plain" one

Nanny Moo: Yeah. I was the plain one. I remember I was having my first money-up. I went to the guinea shop, and I bought this coat. I can see it now: green tweed with, up here, just a kind of trim in the fur around the -- nip into the waste -- I was very slim. And I bought a brown hat with two [ciph -- oh, I thought I was looking at this picture. But, when I got home, my sister put it on. And my sister was full-faced, beautiful blonde hair, lovely green eyes. And my father said, "Oh, no." He said, "It’s all right." He said, "You don’t ever need a veil. You’re different to Moo." [Ciph upstairs, sat down. Me mother come up afterwards, and I say, "Quite all right. I’m not bothered." I said, "I’ll have more boyfriends than she’ll ever have. She’s no personality at all. I’ve got more personality in my little finger than she got in her hands." And that’s true. That’s what happened.  

Hayley Quinn: Right. I always thought my personality was the best bit. Do you think personality’s more important, then, if you’re a woman than just being good looking?  

Nanny Moo: Yes.  

Hayley Quinn: Yeah? To be a good flirt?  

Nanny Moo: Yeah. Only to a certain extent. You’ve got to not go too far unless you’ll become a teaser. You mustn’t do that. But, no, I think so, yeah. Personality lives with you all your life. I have a personality now, have I not?  

Hayley Quinn: Yes, you definitely do.  

Nanny Moo: Right, then. But my looks have gone, have they not? Because the looks go, don’t they?  

Hayley Quinn: Right.  

Nanny Moo: Well, there you are.  

Hayley Quinn: Because character never dies, you know.  Nanny Moo: No, no.  

Hayley Quinn: It doesn’t.  

Nanny Moo: No. And also, if you’ve got personality, you’re not relying on your looks. If you’re relying on your looks, you don’t bother. But, if you’ve got just personality, you still are bothered. You want to know this, you want to know that, and you want to know something else, and so you go on learning, don’t you?

Hayley Quinn: Yeah.  

Nanny Moo: And the finest thing in life is trying to learn people.  

Hayley Quinn: Mm-hmm.  

Nanny Moo: And that is difficult. That’s difficult.  

Hayley Quinn: I think most people aren’t observant enough, or they don’t really listen or pay attention, you know. I think, most of the time, your intuition is there, and it’s hitting you around the head.  

Nanny Moo: My mother told me once, "Look, there’s something good in all people," and that you must see everybody’s point of view. But they don’t now. People talk to you, and they -- "Well, she’s no good. She hasn’t got this," or "She hasn’t got that," or "She can’t do me any old good." I don’t think people are interested in people now.  

Hayley Quinn: No.  

Nanny Moo: They’re interested in "Will that person help me? Will I get anywhere?" And I feel that’s it now.  

Hayley Quinn: Interest in status.

You need people!

Nanny Moo: You don’t need possessions. Possessions are no good. Possessions are no good. You need people. People. You get to know people and learn people. You don’t like them all; but, then, you don’t have to carry on with them if you don’t like them all. But, if you make a friend of them, they’re a friend for life, aren’t they? So that’s it.  

Hayley Quinn: And what do you think are the most important qualities that you could look for in someone to have a long-term relationship with?  

Nanny Moo: Oh, that’s a tough word, isn’t it? That’s tough, really. I think you must be able to talk, to talk on every subject under the sun, and don’t be afraid to say very often that you love one another. Usually, with marriage, that sort of dies. But I think, with my last, it never died. You must be able to say you love it and show you love it. Don’t be afraid to touch.  

Hayley Quinn: Yeah?  

Nanny Moo: Don’t be afraid to touch. Don’t be afraid to pass the person you love and put your arms around them as you pass by and something like that. That’s what I like.  

Hayley Quinn: Because, you know, back in right now, you know how people, they meet on the internet, basically, then they meet up in real life, a convenient, mid-point destination, and they wonder why it isn’t romantic.  

Nanny Moo: People now seem to -- how can you make a date on the internet? You don’t know if a person’s lying to you or not.  

Hayley Quinn: Right?  

Nanny Moo: You’ve got to --  

Hayley Quinn: It’s quite difficult, sometimes, to know if someone’s lying to you or not even in real life.  

Nanny Moo: Well, yeah, but at least you see a person’s face. You can see if a person’s lying. They might look away. They might touch their face or something. But, on the internet, they can tell you anything, even put on a different photo.  

Hayley Quinn: Yeah, they do.  

Nanny Moo: I know they do.  

Hayley Quinn: That’s the thing. It’s called "catfish": you pretend to be someone you’re not.  Nanny Moo: I think, if I was a young person, you’ve just got to go meet and [ciph -- I mean, they think you’ve got to go all this dancing or binge-drinking. Why can’t you be a [ciph here or there? You don’t know who you’re going to meet.  

Hayley Quinn: Right. I think you should do more from what is that you love and you’re interested in and you care about. And then speak to people and be interested in other people.  

Nanny Moo: Not only that. If you meet somebody that you’re interested in and they’re interested in you, and you’ve got this background of something that you’ve done, it’s going to carry you through life, isn’t it?

Love yourself first.

Hayley Quinn: Yeah. Right. Well, I’m going to wrap this podcast up. I know what you’re probably thinking. You’re probably thinking, "I want to hear more of the Nanny Moo podcast. Can we have her back on next week rather than the Hayley Quinn?" She’s saying no, though, so you’ve only got it this once. So you better make the most of these pearls of wisdom.  

I think what’s important is, sometimes, too -- I think what you were saying about doing things in real life, meeting actual people, being interested in people, doing stuff in your life that you really, really care about, and not being afraid to, you know, say what you’re really thinking and feeling -- because I think, then you attract the people that you’re supposed to attract, you’re supposed to get on with.  

Nanny Moo: Too many people now just want romance. They just want to go out with somebody and things like that. They don’t really want to get to know somebody. [Crosstalk] --  

Hayley Quinn: -- Right. Funny enough, that’s what all my talks are about: Get to know yourself first, and then maybe get to know someone else. And that’s --  

Nanny Moo: -- And love yourself first.  

Hayley Quinn: Yes.  

Nanny Moo: If you’re happy with yourself, it’s half the thing, isn’t it?  Hayley Quinn: Yeah.  

Nanny Moo: Because you’re not trying, then, to be somebody else or meet them because they might lift you up the ladder or anything like that. No, no, no. Be yourself.  

Hayley Quinn: Be yourself.  

Nanny Moo: Always be yourself.  

Hayley Quinn: Yeah. It is that old advice, but it’s true advice if you take it the right way. And I think, also, if you be yourself, you know what? You don’t tolerate rubbish from other people because you love your own life and you love your life independently. And you know what you want, and you know what you’re looking for in people. So, often, I think, it’s not about going on another rubbish internet date. Instead, stay at home, read a book, do something constructive, think about yourself. And you know what? By the end of it, you’ll kind of, probably, actually be much closer to meeting someone amazing.

Love during the Blitz and the War: thank you!

Many thanks to Max who transcribed this episode, What was love like during the Blitz and the War, as a gift for me!  

And many thanks to you guys for always tuning into my podcast and reading my blogs!  

If you want to learn more about love and all the great advice Nanny Moo has thought me, join my Hayley Quinn Club today!

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About the author

Hayley Quinn is a leading dating and relationship coach, with 3 million views of her TEDx talk and 18 million YouTube views. She is spokesperson for Match, a columnist for Cosmopolitan, a regular contributor to international media, and has been published by Harper Collins (“The Last First Date”, 2022) and Simon & Schuster (“Do This, Not That: Dating”, 2023).

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