Book Review – Orange Juice and Cod Liver Oil by Peter Morley

November 7, 2014

This is an honest account of a chemical engineer from his childhood to his retirement. As a “Baby Boomer” myself, this is a narrative I can relate to, particularly his childhood in the post World War II period of depression.

I found his family history with his rise from poverty in rural southern England fascinating. I was also intrigued by his account of his development as an extremely proficient engineer despite me not being able to grasp the technicalities of some of the details he describes. His political and religious views on the times he has lived through are understandable given his humble upbringing but will not be shared by everyone. However, I agree with him that we were indeed a lucky generation owing a lot to those who went through the war years immediately before us.

This is a well crafted book by an excellent storyteller which has been written with great charm and humour and should provide a valuable insight to anyone interested in the contemporary history of our generation.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

A review by Leif Mills

Peter Morley is to be congratulated on writing a very readable and interesting account of his life, his childhood background, his thoughts on growing up and then working and his successes in that work.

Peter’s called the book ‘Orange Juice and Cod Liver Oil’ and this reflects the Britain of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. He is, of course, one of millions born just after the end of the War but he has managed to capture the atmosphere, the feelings and – above all – the spirit of those times. As I can well remember the air raid sirens, the barrage balloons and the noise of enemy bombers overhead – as well as the cold and food rationing (particularly sweet rationing) of post war Britain – I think Peter has conveyed what it was like growing up in the new world of the Attlee government and the early days of the welfare state and, from that, the experiences of his apprenticeship and subsequent long journey to the uplands of senior management in the engineering industry.

The book is well produced with an attractive cover and the typeface and layout make it a pleasure to read.

There are too minor points : some photographs might have added to the flavour of the book and also perhaps a short chronology. Otherwise I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the Britain of sixty years ago and one man’s thoughts on how life since then has changed – and changed him.

Leif Mills CBE
TUC President 1994 – 95
Chairman of Covent Garden Market Authority 1998 to 2005

Trade Union Novels:
The Redoubtable Mrs Smith pub. 2010
The Adventures of Mrs Smith pub. 2011
Biographies of polar explorers:
Men of Ice: The Lives of Alistair Forbes Mackay (1878–1914) and
Cecil Henry Meares (1877–1937) pub. 2008
Frank Wild pub. 1999

A review by Joan Mant

Orange Juice and Cod Liver Oil by Peter Morley
This evocative title puts these memoirs firmly in context; the list of contents gives us places; and the dedication the family ethos. These threads, time, place and family are skilfully woven together against a background of social and political history.
1946, the year of Peter Morley’s birth, was immediately post-war and pre the Welfare State; a cold, exhausting time and again no ‘land fit for heroes’. However, cod liver oil and orange juice were there for the next generation and loving families supplied the shortfall. The author’s own words about his childhood are ‘comfortable and secure’ and Dad’s dictum, ‘be poor in a nice place’ surely helped. Morley’s youth is drawn in these ‘nice places’ – one feels quite damp after fishing with Dad! Forebears were not forgotten but remembered with what seems like genuine affection – anyone for ice skating?
The ability to get the best education possible in spite of failing the 11+ demonstrates the writer’s tenacity – ‘get a trade’ Dad said, and he did. Engineering led to travel which in turn led to widening horizons (and reinforcement of prejudices?).
Rosie and family were the warp and weft of daily life in whatever part of the world the living was being made and surely in his own turn Morley passed on the comfort and security he so valued from his own childhood.
This well-structured book has been a joy to read.

Joan Mant is the former Executive Officer responsible for Central Information Service of The Royal college of General Practitioners and author of two books:

All Muck, No Medals: Landgirls by Landgirls, pub. 1994
All Muck, Now Medals: Landgirls by Landgirls, pub. 2010


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