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My mother was 14 in 1939, and lived through the London Blitz. She was too frightened of rats and too claustrophobic to use bomb-shelters (she was less frightened of bombs).

Walking through the West End, trying to escape post-Christmas shoppers, I came across Berkeley Square, where, according to the War-time song, a nightingale sang.

(And thanks to David Hornby for putting me right about the spelling!)

Berkeley Square

Screen_shot_2017-12-05_at_08.50.24by Patrick Howse31 Dec 2013

My long-dead mother's horror
Of rat-filled bomb-shelters,
Her claustrophobia, her chilblains,
Hit me in a Blitz blast-wave,

Intruding into my middle age.
When I stumble
Across the name-plate
I hear the words and refrain,

I feel the wartime sentimental
Longing for nightingales,
And wonder
If nostalgia is inherited.