Mel Barnett was an only child, raised by loving parents in Dalston, a suburb in London’s East End. It was an extremely close and happy household, in which they shared the same jokes and simple pleasures. Although bombs dropped nearby, the war was something of an adventure for a small boy more interested in naming planes and playing cricket in the streets than in politics. It was in the immediate aftermath of postwar depression that Mel first considered the fate of society’s victims, a cause he took up later in life.
Mel’s is a sunny story, told lightly and easily and filled with particular nostalgia for the music of the times. One can almost hear the small family whistling away to a popular melody on the old valve radio.