Etiquette as Great Grandmother knew it

Blackour book cover 001Found in The Black-Out Book (1939) are these rules copied out in her diary by the editor’s great-grandmother.

 

Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices

 

When calling, do not enter into grave discussion. Trifling subjects are better.

 

It is rude to turn a chair so that your back will presented to anyone.

 

In company do not converse with another in a language that is not understood by the rest.

 

If it becomes necessary to break a marriage engagement, it is best to do so by letter. The reasons for your course can be given much more clearly than in a personal interview. All presents, letters, etc., received should accompany the letter announcing the termination of the engagement.

 

During a walk in the country, when ascending a hill or walking on the bank of a stream, and the lady is fatigued, and sits upon the ground, a gentleman will not seat himself by her, but remain standing until she is rested sufficiently to proceed.

 

A dispute about religion is foolish. When it is known that there are fifteen hundred millions of people on the face of the earth, speaking 3034 languages, and possessing one thousand different religious beliefs, it will be easily seen that it is a hopeless task to harmonize them all. Continue reading

How should an escort conduct himself?

young-lady-in-1938-ukSome advice taken from Real Life Problems and their Solution by R. Edynbry, published in 1938 by Odhams Press.

I have recently made the acquaintance of a very refined young lady who, I feel, is vastly superior to myself in many ways. I must confess, I am more than a little in love with her, and I should be awfully sorry to do anything which should lower me in her estimation. I believe, if I asked her, she would consent to walk out with me; but before taking this step I should like to know some of those little courtesies which every man is supposed to know. Not that I am entirely ignorant, but I am aware some of these things have to be learned, and that mistakes are easily made.

‘There are a few rules which should be observed when walking with a lady in a public thoroughfare. Don’t allow your companion to walk on the outside of the path next to the gutter; always take that position yourself. If you want to smoke ask her permission first, but, better still, wait until she suggests it to you. When raising your hat in a salute, remove your pipe or cigarette from your mouth, and lift your hat off your head. If you happen to meet a funeral, also raise your hat. If you take a bus or a taxi, allow the lady to get in first, but you must be ready to help her step down at the end of a journey. When meeting her by chance in the street, don’t keep her standing, but accompany her in the direction she wishes to go.

Should this young lady invite you to meet her people, don’t remain seated while a lady or elderly person is standing. If you have been asked to tea do not stay on until supper- time unless you have been specifically asked. Take off your hat in a private lift if ladies are present, but retain it you wish in a shop or office lift. Dress neatly and never wear anything gaudy or likely to attract attention. Don’t mix the colour of coat and trousers from different suits. A last tip. Don’t do all the talking yourself. By proving yourself a good listener, and by asking intelligent questions, you should easily keep your place in her esteem. ‘

 

How to walk – The rule of the pavement

From Correct Conduct, or, Etiquette for Everybody (M. Woodman. London: W. Foulsham 1922) this piece about the etiquette of walking and pavements. This is the world of the early Downton series or for older viewers The Forsyte Saga. The gentleman has to know what to do in complicated situations ‘…a man who meets his parlourmaid in the street is in a quandary’ – here tipping the hat is suggested (but no nodding…)

hatsoffThe rule of the pavement used to be to walk to the right. The “Safety First” Committee is endeavouring to induce public opinion to favour walking on the left. Instinct suggests the right, common sense the left. Pedestrians should appreciate the fact that this change is being made, and act according to their own dictates. 

When walking with friends, do not proceed along the pavement more than two abreast, and then take to single file on passing other people.

Always give way to perambulators; they certainly are a nuisance, but a necessary nuisance. When a lady is walking with a gentleman, she should take the inside. This is survival of the days when all roads were muddy and passing vehicles splashed those nearest.

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Private Eye & ‘The New Satire’ 1963

IMG_1275Found in the short-lived early 1960s London cultural magazine Axle Quarterly (Spring 1963) in their column of complaints , rants and broadsides (‘Axle grindings’) this mild attack on the British satirical magazine Private Eye (still going strong with a circulation of 225,000). Axle is almost forgotten, it is occasionally seen being traded for modest sums on eBay, abebooks etc., It survived for 4 issues – contributors included Gavin Millar, Paul R. Joyce, David Benedictus, Michael Wolfers, Paul Overy, Roger Beardwood, Mark Beeson, Ray Gosling, Simon Raven, Tony Tanner, Richard Boston, Melvyn Bragg and Yvor Winters. This piece was anonymous.

Millions can’t be wrong aided by The Observer’s unerring flair for pursuing fads of its own creation, Private Eye’s achievement of a 65,000 circulation in just over a year is an interesting phenomenon. This is a figure comparable to that which, say, The Spectator has had to build up gradually over many decades. That Was The Week That Was has been even  more successful. It is estimated that it is watched by approximately 11 and a half  million people, or nearly a quarter of the population.

First of all why has Private Eye been so successful? It’s easy to read, of course, or rather, easy to skip through. Few read the extended written pieces like Mr. Logue’s boring True Stories. And what most people do read requires about as much effort as a Daily Express cartoon. It’s funnier, and cleverer, and more sophisticated, but all it demands is that one has skimmed the headlines and watched TV occasionally. It doesn’t require any mental effort to take it in (although it may stimulate it). 

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‘Good to look at, but bad to live in’— rural slums in 1934

Derelict cottages in England

          Copyright alamy.com (many thanks).

Today, most rural slums have either fallen into ruin or been gentrified by second home owners. In the thirties, however, some of the terrible privations characteristic of the urban slums described by George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier , were equally true of many rural slums. In an article entitled ‘Clean Up Our Country Slums’ in the April 6th 1934 issue of the news weekly Everyman, Orwell’s contemporary, the journalist Hamilton Fyfe (1869 – 1951), who was also a man of the Left, went behind the façade of a pretty country cottage inhabited   by some agricultural tenants and was shocked to find damp walls, cracked plaster, peeling wallpaper and a shared sink.

‘All their water they have to fetch in pails from a farm a couple of hundred yards away. They have no drainage, no light, no indoor sanitation ( as the house agents delicately put it); they enjoy none of the amenities that so may of us consider absolute necessities of life. And these cottage are not exceptional, They are typical of the homes in which our country folk mostly live…I could take you to a house where in two small rooms father, mother, grown-up son and four children ( thirteen to nine) sleep. I could show you rows of houses on the outskirts of little towns, where except for the fresher air, conditions are every bit as bad as in the black spots of London, Liverpool or Glasgow’

According to Fyfe, two Acts of Parliament:

‘make it possible for owners of cottages to borrow money on easy terms so that they may “ reconstruct and improve” their property, put in water supply, baths, light and more wholesome sanitary arrangements. Owners have been very slow, however, in asking for loans. The truth is that the farmer was badly stung over the purchase of his farm from the local viscount and is really not able to spend money on repairs. And he owes his bank so much that he shrinks from the idea of borrowing and more. The right solution, the only solution I can see, is that the community should take over the cottages and make them fir to live in. But most councils are as unwilling as most individuals to take advantage of the Acts of Parliament. 

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A to Z of Zowie (Hippy Slang)

Found in an old Sunday Observer colour supplement from December 1967 this glossary of (then) very recent hippy and 'underground' slang, apparently known as 'Zowie.' In Britain 'Zowie' is mostly associated with David Bowie's son Zowie Bowie (born 1971) now known as Duncan Jones...For a comprehensive online dictionary of hippy slang check out Skip Stone's Hippy Glossary. Since the Summer of Love some of the words below have entered the language (groovy, happening, trip, vibrations, riff) and some like 'Zowie' itself and 'grey' have had very little currency. Slang authority Eric Partridge imported most of Peter Fryer's glossary into later editions of his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.
A TO Z OF 'ZOWIE' Peter Fryer offers a selective glossary of the Underground.

acid/LSD. Acid-head/one who uses LSD.
be-in/hippy meeting.
bread/money.
bust/police search, raid.
cool/unruffled, admirable (but see groovy); not carrying illegal drugs.
crazy/admirable.
dig/understand. Diggers/idealist hippies undermining capitalist economies by giving away free clothes, washing-machines to needy.
drag/bore, dissapointment.
drop-out/one who opts out of society.
flip/arouse enthusiasm. F. one's wig/lose one's head.
Flower Power/from Flower Children or Beautiful People.
Revolutionary philosophy akin to ideas of Young Liberals, e.g. Make Love Not War. Characteristic: bell.
freak/arouse or share collective enthusiasm (freak-out).
fuzz/police.
gig/single paid performance.
grey/middle-aged, conventionally dressed/minded person (orig. US Negro term for a white).
groove/make good progress, co-operate.
groovy/admirable, sexually attractive.
happening/spontaneous eruption of feeling/ display.
hippy/product of Haight-Ashbury ('Hashbury') dist. of S. Francisco. Anarchic successors to Beat generation. Essential beliefs: protest, legalised drugs, opting out. Not to be confused with plastic hippies/mostly conventional youth who like to dress up at weekend.
hung up/annoyed.
love-in/gathering associated with groovy scene.
mind-blowing/ecstasy producing.
naturals/non-hip people.
plug-in/turn or switch on.
psychedelic/mind-expanding. Psychedelia/drugs, flashing lights, sound, colour, movies, dance – usually experienced simultaneously.
riff/repeated background phrase in music.
scene/Underground, or specific part of it.
stoned/very high on cannabis.
straight/conventional person, one who does not use cannabis.
teeny-bopper/anything from 11–16–average age of record-buying public.
think-in/poetry session, discussion group.
trip/LSD experience.
turned on/(1) accustomed to cannabis. (2) aware.
UFO/(pronounced 'yoofo'). Unlimited Freak Out – a hippy club.
vibrations/atmosphere; reactions, with sexual overtones.
Zowie/a new import from San Francisco, meaning hippy language.
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Poetry and Jazz at the Festival Hall

A press-cutting for June 1961 found among the papers of Daniel (‘Dannie’) Abse, CBE, FRSL (1923 – 2014) well respected Welsh and Jewish poet who worked as a doctor much of his life. From the days of poetry and jazz, duffle coats and beards. The Tribune (a left -wing weekly) emphasises the youth of the audience, this is from a time when ‘youth’ meant under 30 – the youth movement didn’t really begin until 1963 (see Larkin’s poem Annus Mirabilis.) Another press-cutting notes the presence of the ‘irrepressible’ Spike Milligan ‘the eminent goon poet.’ Press cuttings, like Poetry and Jazz, are surely a thing of the past. Are there agencies still cutting up (and pasting) newspapers that mention their clients?

The Hampstead Poets and Jazz Group whose first recital was such a success at Hampstead Town Hall last February, greatly daring,took the Festival Hall on Sunday for another performance of their unique form of entertainment. Their optimism was well justified, as the hall was just about full; again the majority of the audience was under 30, and they were given the mixture of poetry and jazz much as before, although unavoidably, the intimate atmosphere of the first occasion was lost in the vast auditorium.

The one newcomer was Laurie Lee, himself a young poet in the thirties when the chief pre-occupation was the Spanish Civil War, as these young men, Adrian Mitchell, Dannie Abse, Jon Silkin, Pete Brown, and Jeremy Robson, the organiser, are poets of the sixties under the H-bomb’s shadow. Cecily Ben-Tovim’s drawing shows Mrs Harriet Pasternak Slater reading to the audience…her poems and her translations of her brother Boris Pasternak’s poems… created a sense of quiet lyricism and nostalgia among the young voices of protest and dissent. The jazz group, helped by Laurie Morgan and Dick Heckstall-Smith, added their own special contribution to the atmosphere.

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Stewards at the Coronation of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth 1937

Found - a mimeographed 4 page typed set of instructions for stewards at the royal ceremony. It reveals the amount of detail and planning that goes into these occasions. It was found slipped into a book on George VI and must have belonged to a former steward. The mention at the end of fatigue and strain for this voluntary job is interesting. Stewards had to be at the stands at 5 a.m. wearing (in most cases) morning dress or uniform. Some were required even earlier. Still, refreshments came from Mecca Cafes Ltd (to be paid for by guests and stewards) and there were cigarettes, chocolates and sandwiches circulated by workers bearing trays. A phone service had also been specially installed...

The Coronation of Their Majesties King George VI.
and Queen Elizabeth.
Wednesday, 12th May, 1937

Instructions to Stewards.

1. Stand Stewards.

Each stand will be under the control of a Stand Steward, whose name will be indicated on the Steward’s pass. Stewards will report to the Stand Steward on arrival, will accept orders from him without reservation and will remain on duty until permission to leave is given by him.

2. Time of Attendance.

Stewards will be required to be at their stand, the number of which is indicated on the back of the pass, not later than 5 a.m. and should make themselves conversant with the general traffic facilities in order to ensure their attendance by this time. A certain number of Stewards on each stand may be required by the Stand Steward to be present at an earlier hour.

It is anticipated that in spite of the later hour of arrival which has been prescribed by the Police for seatholders, a large number will present themselves at the stands at a very early hour, and in order that congestion by seatholders and members of the public at the entrances to stands may be avoided it is considered necessary to arrange for Stewards to be present at that time indicated.

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The Library of J-P Mayer

Found among the papers of  J-P Mayer (1903 – 1992) – this appraisal of his massive library by his friend F.R. Cowell. Peter Mayer was  Professor Emeritus at Reading University and author of books on De Tocqueville, Max Weber, the sociology of films,  and French political thought. He fled to England in 1936 having been a leading figure in the anti-Nazi movement in Germany. He then worked for Britain in the Ministry of Economic Warfare.His library was acquired by us last year, many of the high price items having been taken by Bonham’s auction house. This included a presentation copy from John Stuart Mill to Alexis de Tocqueville and  signed material from Friedrich Engels which made £100,000 plus each. Oddly we (Any Amount of Books, Charing Cross Road) also bought in 2009 a large part of the library of F.R. Cowell another man with a very large and interesting book collection. Both men went on book hunts together, Paris being (then) fertile ground. Mayer also bought heavily while in America. F. R. Cowell was a historian and author of Cicero and the Roman Republic, The Athenaeum, and Leibniz Material for London and many other works on ancient history, horticulture, economics and bibliography. In the accompanying letter (shown) he invites J-P Mayer to join him for a meal at his London club – The Athenaeum (February 1962). It appears that Mayer was trying to sell his library to ‘Boulder’ -presumably the University of Colorado. Evidently the sale never happened and the books stayed in his house in Stoke Poges for another 50 years. The house was near St. Giles church where Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is believed to have been written. It took 5 large vans to move the books. F.R. Cowell’s book collection just two…

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The Cavern – a view from 1964

Found in Arrows 87 (Summer 1964, edited by Roger Ebbatson) this amusing piece about 'Beat Music.' The magazine was produced by Sheffield University Union and had poems articles, graphics etc., This article was by Peter Roche a poet who was affiliated with the Liverpool Scene. He edited a 1960s anthology Love, Love, Love (The New Love Poetry) and is to be found in various poetry collections and anthologies. He was also a friend of John Peel and Cream lyricist Pete Brown.The article shows how, at the time, The Cavern (the club where the Beatles played and were discovered) was not universally loved...

Beat City by Peter Roche

Let me tell you all  a fairy story. Once upon a time, in a  city far away across the hills to the west, there was an old warehouse, in an alley off a side street. And underneath this warehouse was a cellar, where the local groups used to play their music far into the night. And people who lived on the banks of the river used to go to this cellar, because it was somewhere to go when the pubs had kicked out and you were half cut and there was nowhere else to go, and anyway there was a fair old chance of picking up a judy there. And everyone was fairly happy, minding their own business and having the occasional punch-up.

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Eviction of Adam and Eve

Found in Arrows 87 (Summer 1964, edited by Roger Ebbatson) this amusing piece about Adam and Eve. The magazine was produced by Sheffield University Union and had poems articles, graphics etc., This squib was by Peter Mottley (1935-2006) who became an actor, director and playwright.

Eviction by Peter Mottley.

Dear Mr. Adam,

I am instructed by my client to serve the enclosed eviction order concerning the property you now occupy.

He feels that he is justified in this action in view of your recent behaviour, which constitutes a breach of the terms of your lease.

You will remember the Clause 4 in your lease permitted you full access to the garden on condition that you undertook 'to dress it and keep it', and that my client generously allowed you to take for your own use any of the fruits and flower which grow there. However, he specified quite plainly that you were not under any circumstances to touch the prize-winning fruit tree in the south-east corner. This clause has been broken quite blatantly by your wife, who has freely admitted taking fruit from this tree. Her excuse, that she thought it would be all right, is considered by my client to be inadequate.

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Son of the Sixties

Found - in Axle, a short lived magazine, from June 1963 this amusing and intriguing portrait of a sixties type (or archetype.) It was written  by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley the editors of the magazine. These 2 men, 23 at the time, went on to become successful pop music composers - hits included Dave Dee's Xanadu..In 1970 they even wrote a song for Elvis ('I've lost you'.)The reference to 'Dexadrin' is obscure- can find no trace of such a magazine, possibly ingested rather than read...

Son of the Sixties

Build: Tall; slim; muscular without exercise. Complexion: clear; permanently bronzed without sun or Man-tan; never sweats...Seldom laughs (but rare smiles are planned and dazzling - he was born in natural fluoride area). Hair: Black; well-combed, no dressing; styling suggests but never quite descends to more obvious fashions of the day (Frost, Como, etc.) Clothes: by John Michael and Marks and Spencer. Can wear white shirt for whole week. General appearance: Air of masculine competence cunningly offset by one or two ambiguous touches (name-bracelet, St. Christopher chain, pastel denim shirt); usual expression, mixture of Come-Hither and Come-Off-It; can appear alternately boyish and authoritative, a trump combination arousing maternal and subject feelings in women simultaneously, rendering him irresistible. Looks at best after all night party. Background: only son of fashionably separated parents (White Russian mother, Franco-Jewish father) whom he visited alternately in school holidays; discreet fostering of their sense of guilt won him ample allowance and Porsche at 18. Education: Attended Bedales where he swam on summer nights in nude and was encouraged extracurricular activities; he in turn encouraged extra martial activity of master's wife who fondly imagined she had done the seducing. Always the centre of any group, without responsibility of actual leadership...Scraped 3 G.C.E. passes and entered St. Martin's Art School where... he gained undistinguished diploma. Occupations: rejected father's suggestion that he should 'work his way up from the bottom' (in three years) in his costume jewellery business. After spell as bar steward on Azores run where he cut dashing figure in whites, found (with friend of girl friend's help) tailor-made niche as London P.R.O. for obscure but loaded mining venture in Pretoria which enables him to indulge twin ambitions of luxurious living and complete independence. Residence: From liberal expense account was able to set up basement flat in renovated Earls Court terrace, where he frequently throws lavish (but informal) parties that are unexceptionally tremendous successes and are usually raided. (But he has a way with The Law). Clubs: Discotheque, Le Gigolo, Muriel's National Film Theatre, La Poubellle, Rockingham, Ronnie Scott's (offer drinks at, but has never joined The Establishment). Takes: The Observer, Peace News, Dexadrin. Glances at: The Times, Daily Express, Izvetzia, Private Eye, Encounter, Town, Playboy, Paris-Match, Sight and Sound, his horoscope. Went through novel and poetry reading stage at 15; still studies reviews quite carefully. Listens to: Today (2nd edition), Pick of the Pops. Watches: Panorama, Tonight, Compact (for laughs and because he knows some of the cast very intimately), Points of View. Outlook: Intellectual inferiors regard him as unassumingly highbrow, while academics find his 'untouched originality' refreshing. Remarkably adaptable, is equally at home in company of Soho villains and company directors, pop singers and clergymen. Mixes everything from sex to drinks and generally likes neither straight. Believes in experience (hash-smoking, etc.) as a right rather than as anything wildly off-beat, but demands best in everything. A self-confessed dilettante, seeks to avoid type-casting; likes to confound admirers of both sexes by appearing in public with wholly atypical companions. An agnostic, takes pleasure in arguing case for Christianity and was cynical at attempts at compromise in Honest to God. Politics: Wouldn't vote in next election even if he were 21. Occasionally supports Committee of 100 demonstrations, but no longer marches ... Future: Middle-age. And then…?
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The A.A. Gunner’s creed

A.A. RAF team in Normandy.
Many thanks Histomil
Found in The Journal of the Royal Air Force Volume 15, no. 2 Autumn, 1935. pp 229-230 The A.A. Gunner's Creed, by H. W. H. The journal preface the creed by stating "…the origin of this creed is unknown, and the Editor publishes it hoping that he is not infringing any copyright" - a sentiment we also echo. HWH shows considerable wit and was probably a formidable gunner. A.A., as every WWII buff knows, stands for 'Anti-Aircraft.'

Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary to hold the A.A. Faith.

Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall miss the target everlastingly.

And the A.A. Faith is this: that we worship Calibration and the Mean of Three Height Readings.

Neither confounding the Height-takers: nor cavilling at their marvellous discrepancies.

For there is one Height of the Mirror, another of the Altimeter: and another of the U.B.2.

And yet there are not three Heights; but one Height.

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Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy years on–a naval officer’s visit to Japan in 1946/1947

To mark the terrible events of seventy years ago in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, here are some postcards bought by my late father while visiting Japan, late in 1946 or early in 1947, as a commander in the Royal Navy. They were found interleaved in the first volume of a two volume guide book entitled We Japanese, first published in December 1934 and June 1937,by H.S.K Yamaguchi, the managing director of the exclusive Fujiya Hotel at Miyanoshita, situated in the mountainous region of Hakone, eighty miles SW of Tokyo.

The first and second volumes of this four hundred page guide to ‘many of the customs, manners, ceremonies, festivals, arts and crafts of the Japanese’ were reprinted in October and December respectively. A third and final volume appeared in 1949. My father probably bought his copies while staying at the hotel, which was established in 1878 by a member of the Yamaguchi family, and today advertises itself as the oldest ‘Western-style’ hotel in Japan. He wouldn’t have met the guide’s author, who had made great improvements to his hotel in the thirties, because he had died in 1944, but he might have rubbed shoulders with some of its famous guests. During the war one of these was the loathsome ‘Butcher of Warsaw’, Joseph Meisinger, but he had been captured by the Allies in September 1945. At other times celebrities staying at this exclusive hotel included Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Charlie Chaplin, and the Emperor of Japan himself. In 1978 Yoko Ono took John Lennon here.

Today, at £133 pp per night, the Fujiya Hotel no doubt trades on its exclusive reputation, but it is still cheaper than a less famous rival nearby. If you do decide to visit it, the receptionist may let you consult the final issue (1950) of the guide to Japan that my father bought nearly seventy years ago. [RMH]

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Francine Saigon parodist of Francoise Sagan

Found  - a Keystone file photo from March 9th 1963 of 16 year old  novelist Felicity Moxton. Her book Bonsoir Maitresse: a novel (Pavilion Publications, London 1963) was a parody of Francoise Sagan's bestselling 1954 novel Bonjour Tristesse. It is quite rare but looks like this (the design very much like Francoise Sagan's French paperbacks):-

The back of the press photo reads:

Only 16 years old… is the young English writer Felicity Moxton and in a short time her first book will be to get in all book-shops. Felicity is the daughter of a writer in London. Her first book has the title 'Bonsoir Maitresse' and her pseudonym is 'Francine Saigon'. Everybody can see by this title and this name, that Felicity thought to the famous French author Francoise Sagan and her book 'Bonjour Tristesse'. Felicity told a newspaper, that she wanted to make a joke about the books of Francoise Sagan. Let us see, what Felicity had to write!

There are fake reviews at the rear 'Sagan, beware' (Paris Snatch) and 'Proceeds entrancingly from one triviality to another.' (Figarifico). The fictitious former works by Francine Saigon are noted as -Un Certain Sneer, Aimez-vous Hams? and *Marvellous New Ages. The blurb reads:

What is a mistress? How does a mistress begin? How does a mistress end? Exploring this theme, Francine Saigon's new novel tells the story of a young girl's relationship with a father who is more faithful to his old mistress than his successive wives.

Written in the inimitable style which is so familiar to Saigon devotees, 'Bonsoir Maitresse' will linger in the reader's heart long after the covers are closed.

* Les Merveilleux Nuages

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Gad About Guide (London 1948)

Found - a city guide book from 1948 - the year of the London Olympics. The tone is upbeat. There is no mention of the war or austerity, there is even talk of one businessman commuting to work by helicopter. The guide was put out by a long defunct car hire company called Walter Scott, possibly named after the novelist…the guide book is a good snapshot of late 1940s London. The letters of appreciation from aristocrats and a 'world famous actress' are especially amusing.


GAD ABOUT GUIDE

Issued every now and then, to help
busy people get about London quickly.


THIRD EDITION

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1930s Diatribe against wage slavery

The recent Jot reproducing manifestos from The Idler that celebrate freedom from the corporatist world remind me of a wonderfully invocatory collection of poems from Kenneth Muir called The Nettle and the Flower, which came out in 1933. Muir, then just 26, had, just a few years before, graduated from St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where Geoffrey Grigson was his senior by two years. I seem to recall that Muir, being a rather serious-minded student, took against Grigson ostensibly because he performed a prank in which he dressed up as a ghost. But it is more likely that the freshman of solid Labour convictions felt contempt for anyone of a privileged background (though Grigson, who attended a very minor public school, was hardly in this category) who had broken the General Strike of 1926. Grigson was one of many at the University who helped unload ships at Hull docks.

Anyway, The Nettle and the Flower, though rather unfocussed politically, certainly reflected Muir’s equal hatred of the Stalinist view of conveyor-belt drudgery as something noble that contributed to the power of the worker-state, and exploitative Big Business. This is from a Poem to William MacCance:

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The Tragedy of Copped Hall

The effects of the First World War were wide and long lasting, not just for those who were directly involved in it, one way or another , but for the architectural heritage of Britain. The deaths of so many sons of the upper class meant that estates that had been run so successfully up to 1914 were plunged into uncertainty. Great mansions were sold off or demolished. A different fate befell one great house and its astonishing gardens in Essex, as some clippings found among the papers of the late Peter Haining, who must have passed the site regularly on his route to and from his Essex home, tell.

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A Shilling a Day on Food

Found--a cutting of an interesting article from the mid 1920s by Walter M. Gallichan, journalist, novelist and writer on health, sex education and fishing. Undated but probably from the Daily Mail (mention of Woodman Burbidge on the rear of the press-cutting puts in the 1920s when he was chairman of Harrods.) The purchasing power of a shilling (5p) then is about £2.50 now, still a fairly low sum for a day's food.

A Shilling's worth. Full day's Food - by Walter M. Gallichan.

A shilling spent with discrimination will purchase a substantial and savoury meal of non rationed foods. The foods that offer the highest nutritive and force-giving value are still fairly cheap. A shilling may be wasted upon food of an expensive kind containing only a minimum of nutriment. For example, a shilling's worth of jelly may be purchased under the delusion that gelatine is an excellent food, possessing considerable nutritive value. As a matter of fact, the calf's foot jelly commerce and the packet 'jelly squares', thought easily digested and pleasant to the palate, are practically worthless for repairing the waste of the body and giving energy.

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The Meaning of the Missiles

The Meaning of the Missiles---a Cold War warning from American peace organisations.

If the cease fire in Eastern Ukraine fails and the US government votes to arm the Ukraine forces, some experts predict that this dangerous escalation could create a situation similar in its ramifications to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

This 'Survival Leaflet no 6', which was issued in 1958/59 by three American peace organisations, possibly  directed by Quaker pacifists, but acting in concert, seems deliberately alarmist in its predictions of a push button nuclear war in which American cities are atomised by Soviet H bombs and cities in the Soviet Union are destroyed by rockets from European installations under the control of the Pentagon. But this destruction was quite feasible in 1957, when, according to the leaflet there were 'precise plans to erect in Europe some fourteen rocket positions in each of which will be emplaced perhaps fifteen missiles.'

The antidote to such warmongering, according to the authors of this pamphlet, is love and pragmatism overcoming political ideology. Public opinion in favour of a build up of missiles must be changed and the way to do this was for American lovers of peace to write to their representatives, talk to those in positions of power, organise local meetings and distribute copies of this leaflet, which cost $1 for 50. [RR]