Lamlash Street: A Portrait of 1960’s Post War London Through One Family’s Story
Red Damask Publishing (2020)
Reviewed by Ashley Hooker for Reader Views (05/2021)
In “Lamlash Street,” J.M. Phillips has given us a story of a time often forgotten in history. After WWII, life was not the same. People did not go back to their daily lives once the war was over. Many had to rebuild, and soldiers had to find jobs. Phillips explains this by telling us her story. She grew up on Lamlash Street. She had a special group of friends and walked to school each morning. Her family lived in what she called 11B, a flat that shared a building with other residential accommodations. Throughout the story, Phillips tells us about her Uncle who fought in WWII, describes her crush on Anthony, and lets us in on how it felt when Lamlash Street was dying.
When I began reading “Lamlash Street,” I was expecting a story that focused on the Beatles, John Glenn, and Marilyn Monroe. I imagined the author was going to tell us what it was like to have parents who called the Beatles devil music and Marilyn Monroe a promiscuous woman. I was surprised to learn that the author was raised by a family that was still healing from the horrors of war and fighting the trials of the working-class Londoner.
Phillips describes her home as a place of safety and happiness. She describes joyous Christmas parties, playing in the street with her friends, and her childhood crush. I laughed a little when she was so close to her first kiss and mom called her in. I knew how she felt because my mom flashed the porchlight when I was just close enough to feel his breath on my lips. More than a missed first kiss, I related more to her when the factory was being sold.
Her life changed when the prospect of losing jobs became evident. She experienced family members moving away and school desks becoming empty. Her love, Anthony, was there one day and gone the next without a warning. Her special group of friends was dwindling, and her family was consumed with a gloomy feeling. When the textile factories closed in my hometown, things changed too. As a child, you don’t know what to do or how to feel.
There were many parts of Jill’s story that I related to, but there was one quote that struck me deep down. She writes, “So back in the 1960s, the still battle-scarred men were working in the factory; everyone was tired physically and mentally from the war and what they wanted more than anything was a bright future and to escape the horrors of the recent past.” All the men on Lamlash Street just wanted to move on and be happy. I would never have thought more than a decade after the war that families would still be affected.
“Lamlash Street” is a book I would recommend for readers who want a true story of what life was like after WWII. Readers will learn more than facts, they will learn how families and communities are affected by war, time, and poverty. Readers will experience how families can work together and create a life filled with Christmas parties, opportunities for growth, and a deeper appreciation for the people we call friends and family.