This touching and chaotic home movie records a cheerfully indulgent Christmas dinner with the Bartholomews at a post-war prefab in Wallsend. Leaving the gloom and “unspeakably dismal meals” of austerity Britain behind, this family’s table displays a glut of goose and festive goodies. After food, in the family-centred 1950s, the filmmaker’s focus is on the children and their spirited games and dancing to vinyl 78s.
This amateur film was shot by Victor Sidney Carman, who lived in Wallsend and Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne. The work features his sister’s family Christmas with many generations around the table. The words quoted here on British food during the austerity years are those of cookery writer Elizabeth David, whose wartime experience in Italy, Greece and Egypt didn’t prepare her for the food back home. However, the standard of living actually improved for working class families during rationing and diets were more nutritional.