Everything seemed to be rationed in Britain during the Second World War and even more so afterwards for the country was nearly bankrupt after the previous six years fighting.
Even coal was too as it was the main heat source for millions of people to warm their homes with open fires in the living rooms whilst at night you sought comfort in bed with a warm hot water bottle.
Coal was needed in many industries and only so much could be allocated for home use except for the variety named “Nutty slack” which was small nuggets of poor quality coal and useless coal dust.
So in our house our open fires were fueled with this very smoky fuel that was a pain to get alight and subject to the vagaries of the weather if an errant breeze over the chimney caused a downdraft and puff a cloud of smoke into the living room caused everyone to cough and choke.
The remedy was to hold a sheet of newspaper in front of the fire to prevent that happening and for the embers to suck air from the room to maintain ignition and encourage the coals to burn.
Often to add to the fun the paper would catch fire too causing my father to drop it quickly and stamp on it to put it out while we hid behind a chair!
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