Now, as Britain prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Blitz, the question of what it was like actually to live through it remains as emotive and politically charged as ever.How did the country’s citizens really behave in their darkest hour?Instead, in the face of mortal danger, they launched into a night of passionate, abandoned lovemaking.‘That night fear and pleasure combined to provoke a mood of wild exhilaration,’ wrote Peter Quennell, who would later become a renowned biographer and historian, eventually being knighted in 1992.
‘There was a huge amount of adventure, excitement and romance, because there was a breaking down of conventions,’ he says.
This led others in the shelter to discuss their personal pleasures: underwear, corsets, body piercing, dressing in rubber and even a phenomenon known as ‘human pony riding’.
The group became so involved in their discussion, they failed to react to a bomb exploding nearby.
A more powerful symbol of the sexualisation of the Blitz would be hard to find.
Even in the absence of direct danger, the routine of violence during the Blitz was raising the nation’s temperature in a way simply unknown before, releasing neuroses and bringing all kinds of extreme behaviour within reach.