Armistice 100: ‘Sleep longer’ to save on fuel, says article from 1918

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Dateline September 28, 1918: There is a poignant distinction to be made between ‘looking forward’ to something, in the sense that one is highly excited by what might transpire at some point in the future and ‘looking forward’ merely with a sense of stoicism.

Thus begins an article printed 100 years ago in the pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post. It reads: “We are all looking forward, more or less, to an uncomfortable winter...” It goes on: “Even if we do manage to ‘keep the home fires burning’, the home will be less brightly lighted than of yore and will therefore lack its accustomed cheerfulness.”

So bemoaned an editorial which lamented the rationing of both fuel and light. This was a time of rationing, there was a national coal shortage and a general weariness of a war which was meant to be “over by Christmas” but which had by then dragged on for four years.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. On the contrary, many were predicting a shift in social patterns as a result of the shortages and one which would be for the better.

A collective sense of purpose would, for example, the article predicts, see people opting to “go out and save the fire”, a movement which would simultaneously revitalise struggling social clubs.

The article points out: “It will be the duty of all those whose work need not be begun early to lie long in bed. It is quite impossible to prepare breakfast and do housework in the dark.”

Other possible social changes would even extend to fashion, adding: “It is only within the last few years that the indoor dress of women who are able to spend a moderate amount upon clothes has ostentatiously refused to suit itself to the season.”