Archive for the ‘Nostalgia’ Category

How is the copyright on a liquorice allsort and a caricature of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher connected?

In February 2010, Sylvester McCoy who played the seventh Doctor Who from 1987 to 1989, claimed, according to DailyTelegraph, that he and Andrew Cartmel, a script editor at the time, were part of a conspiracy in the late 1980s to give episodes of Doctor Who an anti-Thatcher plot. In the article, McCoy, who took over as Doctor Who three months after Margaret Thatcher’s third election victory in 1987, said that they brought politics into the show ‘deliberately’ but ‘very quietly … We were a group of politically motivated people and it seemed the right thing to do. Our feeling was that Margaret Thatcher was far more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered’.

Cartmel, who was asked by the programme’s producer at the time, John Nathan-Turner, what he hoped to achieve in being the show’s script editor, recalled ‘My exact words were: I’d like to overthrow the government.’ In an article in The Guardian however in 2013, John Nathan-Turner is said to have replied ‘Oh you can’t do that on Doctor Who, all you can do is say that purple people and green people are equal and should live in harmony’.

sheila hancock, ronald fraser, happiness patrol, doctor who, bbc, margaret thatcher

Sheila Hancock with Ronald Fraser as Joseph C. Though Sheila Hancock was not told that the character of Helen A was based on Margaret Thatcher, she realised this early on and ‘went for it’. Hancock stated that she ‘hated Mrs Thatcher with a deep and venomous passion’.

The Happiness Patrol written by Graeme Curry was broadcast in three episodes in November 1988 and was part of the 25th series of Doctor Who. It featured a transparent caricature of Thatcher, Helen A, the vicious and egotistical ruler of an Earth colony Terra Alpha, played by Sheila Hancock. On Terra Alpha, sadness is against the law – a law zealously enforced by the Happiness Patrol. The penalty for those found guilty of gloom or melancholy is death in a stream of molten candy prepared by Helen A’s chief executioner and confectioner supreme, the psychopathic and robotic killer, Kandy Man, played by David John Hope.

The first episode opens with the Doctor, and his young companion Ace, travelling to Terra Alpha to investigate why its citizens are disappearing without trace. The last episode shows the time travellers helping to foment rebellion amongst the downtrodden population who toil in the factories and mines. The Doctor calls on the ‘drones’ to down their tools and revolt. The script-writers intended this to be an echo of the miners’ strikes and printers’ disputes during Thatcher’s first two terms in office.

doctor who, kandy man, happiness patrol, bbc

Doctor Who confronts the Kandy Man. The appearance of the Kandy Man has been variously described as the weirdest or most ridiculous monster of the era. The Doctor however simply outwits the Kandy Man by gluing him to the floor with lemonade.

In the final episode, while a revolution rages outside the palace walls, the Kandy Man is destroyed by a flow of his own ‘fondant surprise’ which dissolves his external candy shell. And in a low-key comeuppance, the Doctor confronts Helen A and tries to explain that happiness can only be understood if counterbalanced by sadness. As Helen A weeps over her dearly departed lapdog monster Fifi, she experiences her own sadness.

Cartmel said that ‘Critics, media pundits and politicians certainly didn’t pick up on what we were doing. If we had generated controversy and become a cause célèbre we would have got a few more viewers but, sadly, nobody really noticed or cared’. The story has been described as a political allegory of Thatcher’s Britain, and as a morality tale. The Daily Telegraph article added that a spokesman for the BBC said it was ‘baffled’ by the claims. Following falling viewing numbers, no further series of Doctor Who were commissioned after the 26th series in November 1989. Except of course in 2005, the BBC relaunched Doctor Who after a 16-year absence.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

fry's five boys, chocolate, wrapper

A Fry’s Five Boys chocolate wrapper. The bars were marked off into five segments, each with one of the faces stamped into the chocolate. The bars originally cost 1d when launched in 1902, that’s just under half of 1p in today’s money.

Fry’s Five Boys was a solid milk chocolate bar that was once the most recognised chocolate bar in the world. It was still being sold until its withdrawal in 1976. But who remembers it now?

It was first sold by J S Fry & Sons of Bristol in 1902 with a wrapper showing not five boys, but the face of one boy, in a sailor suit, with five different expressions representing his anticipation and experience of eating the chocolate bar. Beneath each face was a caption:

Desperation, Pacification, Expectation, Acclamation, Realization [with a ‘z’]

The five pictures were photographs taken in 1885 and were used by J S Fry & Sons in its advertising; appearing on enamelled metal signs displayed outside confectioners, on posters and in newspapers. The boy was Lindsay Poulton, aged five, and his father and grandfather took the photographs for which Fry’s paid £200, a very large sum at the time, to have exclusive use of them.

Lindsay Poulton was still around in 1960s when he was tracked down by the Bristol Evening Post to Rhode Island in the USA. Mr Poulton remembered the photographic session well, particularly the Desperation shot, when his grandfather induced the necessary look, and the tears, by placing a cloth soaked in photographer’s ammonia around his grandson’s neck!

fry's five boys, chocolate, enamelled sign

The five faces of Fry’s Five Boys chocolate on an enamelled metal sign. Desperation – no chocolate, Pacification – the promise of chocolate, Expectation – the prospect of chocolate, Acclamation – happiness at receiving chocolate, and Realization – eating the chocolate, and discovering that it is a Fry’s milk chocolate bar!

So when the chocolate bar was introduced in 1902 with its distinctive wrapper, the Five Boys image became irretrievably connected with it.

There was also a bar called Fry’s Five Centres produced from 1934 to 1992 but this shouldn’t be confused with the Five Boys bar. Five Centres was like today’s Fry’s Chocolate Cream, a fondant centre enclosed in dark chocolate, but with different flavoured centres. Strawberry, orange, raspberry, lemon and pineapple at first, then later on, coffee, lime, and blackcurrant replaced strawberry, lemon and pineapple.

I can remember Five Boys from the 1950s and 1960s. I thought the pictures of the boy were a bit weird, even scary.

Incidentally J S Fry & Sons started with Joseph Fry, a Quaker apothecary, making chocolate in Bristol around 1759. The Quakers were formed as a protest against the established Church and its members were debarred from many public and civic offices, and professions such as medicine or the law were not open to them. This is why so many Quakers gravitated towards business and commerce. As Quakers were concerned about levels of alcohol misuse in the population at large, the move into chocolate that began with cocoa drinks was therefore a reaction against the perceived misery and deprivation caused by alcohol.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

You may remember this if you are old enough. But where would you likely find it?

And if it doesn’t ring a bell, what might paraffin be used for?

Here’s a bigger picture with some answers.

And another picture.

Here are some previous Snapshots: number one, number two, and number three.


Read Full Post »

This now rather archaic British phrase refers to a person who has died or to something that has broken. There are many ideas as to its origin but it first came into common use in the mid-20th century. The two main contenders refer either to the beer brewed in the Midlands town of Burton upon Trent, which was and still is famous for its breweries, or to the suits made by Montague Burton, who supplied the majority of the de-mobilization suits that British servicemen were given on leaving service after WWII.

BurtonAle2According to the brewing origin, it is said that there were pre-WWII adverts for Burton Ale where one of the characters was missing. One advert showed a football team lined up for a photo with one player missing, and the caption ‘he’s gone for a Burton’, that is he’d gone to the pub. However during WWII, the phrase was in widespread use in the RAF in referring to pilots who had crashed, especially those who crashed into the sea, that is ‘in the drink’. Having ‘gone for a burton’ was a gentle way of saying that an airman had been killed in action.

MontagueBurtonAlternatively, the phrase is said to be a euphemistic reference to an errant serviceman. ‘Where’s Private Coggins? He’s gone for a burton sir’. Private Coggins hasn’t of course gone to have a suit fitted at Burton the tailor, he’s more likely gone absent without leave.

This latter explanation however seems the less likely of the two, as it doesn’t quite match the meaning of the phrase which was used to mean dead, not merely absent, so the brewing origin seems the most likely.

Whilst the phrase is fading from general use, it hasn’t as yet quite ‘gone for a burton’.

Read Full Post »

milk churns, horsted keynes, bluebell railway

Milk Churns at Horsted Keynes Station on the Bluebell Railway

Daughter Anna Gryce had great success at the Lambeth Horticultural Society Spring Show on 6 April 2013. Her exhibit in the ‘Nostalgia’ photographic class won first prize and the best in show!

The photograph was taken at Horsed Keynes railway station on the Bluebell Railway heritage line in West Sussex, and the image converted to monochrome. It elicits a bygone era when milk was brought from local farms and taken up to London by train. Hence the ‘milk train’, a train that ran very early in the morning to transport milk but which also carried passengers.

In the ‘Flowers in Spring’ class, Anna’s exhibit, a tint enhanced image of bluebells in a wood, won first prize. But it has no connection with the location of her’ Nostalgia’ entry.

In the Summer 2013 issue of the LHS newsletter, the editor said about the photos, ‘the standard has been set!’

Read Full Post »

A Great Eastern Railway carriage served as the waiting room at Ashdon Halt

A Great Eastern Railway carriage served as the waiting room at Ashdon Halt

A single track branch line of the Great Eastern Railway from Audley End to Bartlow via Saffron Walden, a distance of seven and a quarter miles, was opened in 1866. The line went through the village of Ashdon, five miles to the east of Saffron Walden. However, it wasn’t until 1911, following a local campaign that the residents of Ashdon were given a halt, with a platform constructed of raised earth and clinker with a front of old sleepers. In 1916, an old Great Eastern Railway carriage with a largely wooden body, was mounted on the platform as a waiting room.

Diesel railcar at Ashdon Halt

Diesel railcar at Ashdon Halt

From July 1958, the line was operated by railcars, which were carriages with built-in diesel engines. They were seen as a low-cost solution to keeping open lines with small numbers of passengers, but in 1963 the Beeching Report listed the line for closure. The line was closed to passengers the year after on 7 September 1964, and to freight three months later, and the track was lifted in 1968. Remarkably, the platform and ‘waiting room’ room are still largely intact.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts