During and after the war, my father was working in the Department of Supply.
It dealt with the shortage of various goods caused by the war and the fact that few ships were risking taking to sea with cargo.
So the department dealt with rationing what goods were available.
(On a sidenote, though I was born in 1953, I had a ration book!)
It was tough work. Because sometimes the supply of something fairly ordinary would dry up and they’d have to cut rations. And sometimes there would be a sudden glut of something or other and they’d have to decide how to allocate it.
And that’s why he told me the baking powder story.
It seems that, an unexpected cargo of baking powder arrived on a ship which was carrying various goods.
There was several tonnes of the stuff.
The only thing my father and the other (male) civil servants knew about it was, that it was used in conjunction with flour.
Therefore, if it was going to be made available to people, it would have to be made available in proportion to the amount of flour they were allocated.
But they didn’t know what the correct proportion was.
They had tonnes of it so they needed to find out quickly how it was best distributed.
They sent a young civil servant (male) out to see if he could find out.
He came back some time later.
And he said he had the answer. They were very pleased as they waited to hear how they were going to distribute several tonnes of baking powder.
“It’s a pinch of baking powder to a fistful of flour,” the young man said.
He may have been right.
But it wasn’t quite the answer they’d been hoping for…