A lighthearted saying that many old working-class, and non-politically correct, Londoners interject into any conversation even mildly regarding the Germans.
They mean no harm, we have German family for example, but it is quite common for my eldest relatives (who fought/got bombed) to playfully used the chip shop bombing card whenever and wherever the Germans are concerned.
"Looks like there is a new German family moving in in the next street."
"Ah, you know they bombed our chip shops.*"
"So Nan, it looks like Germany is going along with France in opposing the invasion of Iraq."
"Well, if only they were like that 60 years ago, instead of bombing our chip shops.**"
And I know many people, within and outside of England, who would anyway highlight chip shop sentence this as a typical symptom of the terrible English national psychosis of not being able to get over World War 2/fear of the Germans/Imperial nostalgia/hooliganism/devil worship, general xenophobia, evilness, bad stuff and all other such negative traits that has constituted the English character for the last fifty years (Personally I think most Anglophobes just don't understand irony that well).
But on the plus side - we've never invaded Poland and the ball was well over the line!
Ahem, sorry. I deserve several downvotes for that alone. Anyway.. chip shops...
I would refute all of that Hysterical Germanophobia baloney in this chip-shop-bomb case, the only people I know to have said "They (the Germans) bombed our chips shops!" actually saw the Germans bombing the Chip Shops. I mean it is actually factually true, sure it was sixty years ago, but it is in all the history books I've checked, some chip shops were definitely bombed. It'd probably take me more than than a few generations to completely forget such a thing.
Secondly I've never heard it said with any seriousness, spite or resentment towards the Germans - the most you could point a finger at would be a possible (and very very very faint) subtext of "Although they bombed our chip shops, thank goodness we won in the end and the chip shops were rebuilt, so we can all relax, eat some chips and joke about it all now although it wasn't really that funny at the time."
So to finish off my recording of this little and rapidly fading cultural marker
of London past
, you may wish to know why the chip shop was singled out as the type of establishment that was bombed so unfairly - considering the outsider might imagine that hospitals, schools, churches and of course pubs might raise more emotion from the civilians under attack - well there's no surprise in that there is no actual definitive answer in this case. Maybe there is no reason. Maybe it's because they really
liked chips. Maybe it's because with rationing and the general hardship of war, the reassuring smell of fresh chips wafting down a ruined street
, despite the horrific destruction was so easy to remember (we all know the power of smell for memories I'm sure). Even in 2003, the presence of a chip shop is one of those rare things which the English use to constitute a national identity, in the same vein as the monarchy
, getting drunk
, losing graciously
and going on about World War 2.
* May I devote a whole short paragraph here to strongly highlight that this mantra is drenched (drowned! submerged! walking the Pacific in concrete wellingtons) in irony by my Grandmother and those who say it. Honestly. The lack of an irony font can often make the British (in particular) look like petty, mean spirited fascists (even when they're not being so) in the written word. So that is the emphasis. Ironic.
** Oh and whilst I'm digressing - just in case you're not in the know - chips in Britain are French Fries anywhere else (except with actual potato in them). The crispy potato snack you call chips we call crisps. (If I'm getting too patronising please let me know.)