1950s Britain: The Post War Boom

After the hardships and suffering of WW2, Britain began the 1950s with a spirit of hope and rebuilding.

New tower block flats in South London, 1959. You can see the ‘Prefabs’ in the foreground that were used as emergency housing after the bomb damage. Some stlll exist today.

Models show off the latest skirt fashions in a department store, 1956.

A girl proudly shows off the family motorcycle, 1953. You can see the Coronation bunting on the shed, which tells you the year.

Harlow New Town in Essex, 1958. The modern flats had indoor bathrooms and even central heating!

A middle-class mother and daughter in Manchester, 1954. The girl seems to love her new tricycle.

A husband and wife stand next to their new car, 1953. Car ownership was rare for the working classes before then.

Stevenage New Town in Hertfordshire, 1958. The concept of a modern estate with shops and all amenities nearby was first tried out in the many ‘New Towns’ created after WW2.

A family that has just moved into their modern council house, 1958. It must have seemed like a dream home to them.

This smiling lady pushes her baby past a row of recently constructed council houses, early 1950s.

After this, came the ‘Swinging Sixties’. Sadly, all that hope and optimism was not to last.

Poverty In ‘Modern’ Britain: 1968-1972

The housing charity Shelter commissioned photographer Nick Hedges to take a series of photographs around Britain, between 1968-1972. They were used to highlight the abject poverty and appalling living conditions that many people were still enduring in supposedly ‘Modern’ Britain. You could be forgiven for thinking these photos were taken during the 1930s.

Birmingham, 1968.

Birmingham, 1971.

Glasgow, 1970.

Bradford, 1972.

London, 1972.

Bradford, 1972.

Glasgow, 1971.

Liverpool, 1969.

Bradford, 1969.

Liverpoool, 1969.

Salford, 1971.

London, 1972.

Sunday Musings In A ‘Heatwave’ July

Today sees the start of increasing temperatures that are forecast to give us the second ‘heatwave’ (by UK standards) of 2022. We are expecting 32-33C (90-92F) by midweek, with hot and humid nights. For me, this means taking Ollie out much earlier, to spare him the afternoon heat, and sleeping on top of the bed in front of a large pedestal fan. No rain is forecast, so that at least will keep me cheerful.

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For anyone still remotely interested, (and I do not blame you if you are not) my driving licence has still not been received. So I am continuing to drive on a technically ‘expired’ licence, and if stopped, I will look forward to a day in court exposing the complete shambles that is the DVLA here.

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There is no news that does not concern who will replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. So for me this is of no interest. Whoever replaces him will still be hitting the poor, the working class, and the unions. Trampling on hard-won rights and working conditions, and laughing at those struggling to get by. Also trying to dismantle our beloved NHS, and continuing to sell off its services to private companies based in America. In short, I hate them all, with a vengeance. So I will hate whoever they choose, for as long as I am still alive. (That hatred is real, not a choice of words.)

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I’m struggling to think of anything postive for these musings, to be honest. But we are looking forward to our 7-day holiday in September. Although in England, and only 90 miles from Beetley, it gives us a change of scene next to a beach, and we can take Ollie with us.
Everyone on Earth needs something to look forward to, and this holiday is what I look forward to, humble though it may be.

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More shootings in America since I was last here. My one observation is that those ‘brave gun owners’, that ‘good man with a gun’, much lauded by the NRA, appeared to be too scared to fire back at the Chicago shooter. Why am I not surprised about that? Taking selfies in front of your 200+ gun collection is very different to having the guts to fire back.
That ‘brave man with a gun’ is just a coward with a gun. They all are, that is why they own guns. The are scared, but they are also too scared to use them when it matters. Cowards.

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That’s about it for the 10th of July. I hope you have a stress-free Sunday, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing.

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Poverty In Britain 1968-1972: Photos By Nick Hedges

At the peak of the ‘Swinging Sixties’, Britain was just not all about Mary Quant, mini-skirts, pop music, fashion models, and fast cars. Much of the working class still lived in conditions of abject poverty, all over the UK. Photographer Nick Hedges went on a tour of the country, and he captured these images in London, Scotland, and the industrial cities in Yorkshire and Lancashire. You could be forgiven for thinking thay were taken during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

A depressed-looking woman holding her baby. There seems to be no joy in her life.

A young child in poor living conditions. It makes me wonder what happened to her later in life.

A mixed-race little girl clings to a woman who could be her mother or grandmother.

A woman using what passes for a kitchen in her house. It is situated on the landing between flights of stairs. Hard to believe this was taken in 1972.

All the children of one family sharing a bed with a single blanket.

A young woman with her baby, entering her slum dwelling in a run down area. Looks more like 1930, than 1970, and hard to believe anyone lives there.

This child holds a baby that she has been left to look after in awful conditions.

A young family living in one small room.

A run down area in a northern city in 1972.

At least this little girl looks happy. But the photo feels more like it was taken in 1940, instead of 1971.

Queen Boudica And The Iceni

Where I live now in the county of Norfolk, eastern England, was once home to a tribal people called the Iceni. They extended south into modern-day Suffolk, and west as far as what we now call Cambridgeshire. They were one of the original Brittonic peoples.

At the time of the Roman Invasion, they had been well-established and powerful since the early Iron Age. They had a social structure, a royal hierachy, and issued coinage that could be used in the territory they controlled.

Most lived in fortified villages, in large houses made of rendered mud with thatched roofs. (Replica of an Iceni village)

After the Roman conquest was completed by Emperor Claudius in AD43, the Iceni allied with the invaders, and that decision allowed them to expand, as well as becoming wealthier and more influential. However, the Romans constantly sought to integrate the Iceni into Roman society, and after the death of her husband in AD60, the new Queen of the Iceni, Boudica, began a revolt against the Roman occupiers. For over a year, her large army of over 30,000 untrained warriors, led by her riding in a chariot, defeated many Roman armies sent against it, and managed to travel south as far as the Roman city of Londinium, (London) which was looted and burned.

On the way to London, her army attacked the Roman city of Camulodonum (modern day Colchester) killing every single person inside, then went on to defeat a Roman force of 2,000 professional soldiers of the 9th legion that had just arrived outside that city.

Once in Londinium, the Iceni spared nobody in the Romanized capital. Contemporary reports put the death toll at close to 70,000 soldiers and citizens. Things were looking so bad for the Romans, the Emperor seriously considered abandoning Britain entirely, and returning all his soldiers and citizens to Rome.

However, Roman General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus returned with his army from a campaign in Wales, determined to crush the Iceni rebellion. Joined by other British tribes, Boudica took an army estimated to be almost 80,000 strong, and set off to meet the approaching Romans. Somewhere in modern-day Shropshire, on the old Roman road named Watling Street, the armies clashed in AD61.

Despite his force being heavily outnumbered, Suetonius had 10,000 well trained and battle-hardened soldiers under his command who could be relied upon to fight in formation, and obey every order.

By contrast, Boudica’s huge force was relatively untrained, poorly equipped, and had just travelled a long way on foot, living off the land. They attacked the Roman army in a disorganised fashion, and were easliy beaten, with most of their number being killed. It was said that Boudica took poison when she realised they would be defeated, rather than face capture, and the shame of slavery.

Boudica (also called Boadicea) is commemorated by this statue, on the north side of Westminster Bridge in London.

She is known to history as ‘The Warrior Queen’ of England.

Angry

I have to -sort of, but not really- apologise in advance for what follows, because I am angry. Very angry.

And if you have ever voted Conservative in the UK, best look away now.

I worked hard for all of my life, most of that in public service in stressful and sometimes dangerous jobs. I was trying to do some good for society, and certainly didn’t do those jobs for the money, which was below average for London. But I didn’t mind, because I wanted to do something good, not make profits for huge corporations.

I paid into two workplace pensions, and paid my National Insurance to receive my State Pension at the age of 65. When I retired at 60 and moved to Norfolk, I expected to live a reasonable life. Not affluent, far from that, but hopefully free from worry. I certainly never expected to end up in 2022 to find this country run by a gang of ‘Entitled’ pigs who cared nothing whatsoever for the people of Britain.

I really didn’t.

But that’s where we are. A gang of rich buffoons who have mega-rich friends, and a huge parliamentary majority. A Prime Minister who is an embarrassment to this country, surrounded by politicians and old friends who have got rich, and then richer, on the hard work of ordinary people. Members of Parliament on salaries of £84,000 a year, plus expenses of up to £200,000, telling ordinary people to ‘work harder’, or ‘do two jobs’ as they laugh at us in the subsidised bar of the House of Commons. A country saturated with ridiculous echoes of a long-gone empire, and fawning over a Royal Family that includes some of the richest people in the world, as well as hangers-on and paedophiles.

Fuel increases have been blamed on the war in Ukraine. That is a lie. The UK imports very little oil from Ukraine or Russia, and Shell and BP have made never before seen profits since the Russian invasion. WHY? Because they can, because the government lets them. Because they have friends who are shareholders in those companies.

Now the price cap on electricity and gas is set to rise to record levels. The members of parliament don’t care, because their energy bills are claimed on those ‘expenses’. But most people are set to see a 120% increase in their fuel bills in one year. More profits for the utility companies, engineered by their friends in government. They seek to distract us with ‘Platinum Jubilee’ celebrations, and an extra bank holiday. Yes, let’s all celebrate the Queen, who is one of the richest women on Earth, and doesn’t even need the taxpayer’s money that is pumped into her and her family so she can pay a woman £12,000,000 to drop a case against her sexual abuser son.

Meanwhile, hard-working people are becoming overwhelmed by utilty increases that may put their everyday lives in complete jeopardy. Someone as well-prepared for retirement as me (at least I thought so) has to think twice about using a car, as it costs me £105 to fill it up with diesel. And I have to shop ‘carefully’, for the first time in my life, because food price increases are blamed on higher transport costs, and that war in Ukraine.

If there had been no war in Ukraine, I wonder what they would have blamed it on? They would have found something, I’m sure.

So here I am at 70, after a relatively hard life. Suddenly worrying about everything, for the first time ever. Thanks to the Tory scum that run this country, and laugh about those foolish enough to vote for them. Like sheep volunteering to be the first one in the slaughterhouse.

Why did you vote for them? I would love to know. Working class people all across Britain, especially in the North, and the Home Counties, voted for them. Middle-class people voted for them, perhaps out of habit. Upper class people voted for them for obvious reasons, and so they could become multi-millionaires.

Did you really think they cared about you? Did you really think they believe you are the same as them? If so, you are not only ignorant, not only politically ignorant, but deluded and cretinous in every way imaginable.

You betrayed me, and every person who genuinely worked hard for this country.

This is no longer my country, it is a disgusting sham. Because of you.

I am not just angry, I hate you all. I will hate you with a spiteful vengeance until my dying day. Which should not be too far in the future.

If anyone doesn’t like this post, please feel free to unfollow me. I am probably better off without you.

The Shame Of Britain

I am reblogging this from my second blog, as it really needs to be seen by a wider audience.

REDFLAGFLYING

News today of an incident at Calais that rightfully shames the current despicable government running this country.

150 Ukrainian refugees escaped from their war-torn country. They spent days heading West, crossing through Poland and Germany into France. Their aim was to seek refuge with members of their families who were already legally resident in Britain.

But the UK Border Force post at Calais refused them entry. They were told to travel to Paris, 300 miles away, and apply for a temporary visa at the British Embassy there.

Heartless, bureaucratic, shameful in the extreme.

Poland has welcomed over 500,000 refugees.
Hungary has welcomed over 140,000 refugees.
Moldova has welcomed 98,000 refugees.
Slovakia has welcomed 73,000 refugees.
Romania has welcomed 52,000 refugees.

Even Russia has allowed in 48,000 refugees to flee the war it started.

And noble Great Britain, that renowned Monarchy and self-professed seat of Democracy will not allow in 150…

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Halloween-Scmalloween

This is a repost from October the 31st, 2012. With everyone suitably seasonally excited today for Halloween, I thought I would offer an alternative view, somthing of a rant, for the benefit of any new followers since I last reposted this in 2014.

What is all this fuss about Halloween? Does anybody remember when it all started here? Shops full of pumpkins, devil-suits, and tridents; parties with fancy-dress themes, gangs of kids wandering about, begging for sweets. I certainly have no memory of it in London at least, until about 1990. It is yet another unwanted American import, alongside baseball caps, (Who knows the rules? Come on, tell me.) rap music, and McDonald’s. Driven by the Marketing men, Supermarkets, and Television, desperate to fill the gap between Summer holidays, and Christmas.

Why do we always fall for this rubbish so easily? Is there no tradition that cannot be sold on, re-packaged for British taste, and successfully marketed, until nobody remembers a time before it existed? What’s next, Thanksgiving? That would fit nicely into the space before Yuletide, and would increase turkey sales even more. We could all wear stove-pipe hats, and big Puritan collars, trying to pretend it was OK to swindle the Red Indians out of their lands for a few beads and trinkets. It wouldn’t matter that there were no Red Indians here, we could just make that bit up. Or maybe we could call them ‘Native Americans’, to make us feel even less guilty.

Nothing has value anymore. There is no special time left. Hot Cross Buns are available all year, pancakes can be bought anytime, then microwaved to save the effort of making them. Tangerines are no longer a Christmas treat, any Tesco will have them in, anytime you want. We have slowly removed everything that we ever had occasion to anticipate excitedly, and to look forward to as the seasons changed. Once we had lost all that, we had to search elsewhere for something to plan for, and along came Halloween. We can now arrange parties, or the appalling ‘Trick or Treat’ parades (Ask them for a trick is my tip!), and have everything from themed burgers, to pumpkin socks. How did we ever cope before?

I would love to take you back in a Time Machine. You would relish the prospect of Buns at Easter, delight at trying to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, and be unable to sleep on the night before Christmas. You would never have heard of ‘Grand-Parents’ Day’, and Halloween would be something that was ‘done’ in America. Brazil nuts and tangerines would appear in December, be enjoyed briefly, and would not be seen again until that time the following year. Baseball caps would be worn by baseball players, and some other people in The Americas, but not in England. If you wanted a snack, you would be happy with fish and chips, or pie and mash.

There is nothing wrong with American cultural celebrations. They even keep some European ones, like Christmas. But the newer ones should stay on that side of the Atlantic. That way those that seek it can travel there to enjoy it, and celebrate the differences in our societies and customs. We might even tell them that we used to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve as part of the Harvest Festival, and that Halloween is a Scottish corruption of that phrase. That would make it ours then, not American at all. Like most things, including many we have since discarded, they were taken to America by settlers. America is doing a fantastic job of re-exporting those traditions, whether we need them back, or not.

Surely it is enough to celebrate the difference in the various traditions and cultures of the many countries and societies in the world, without having to assimilate everything? As the French say- ‘Vive la difference’.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Not a Brit.

If you come from the UK, it is very common to be called ‘A Brit’, especially by Americans and Canadians. But it is easy to overlook the fact that Great Britain is made up of four very different countries. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have different cultures and traditions, varied histories, and also languages other than English.

It may say ‘British Citizen’ on my (expired) passport, and I have to state my nationality as ‘British’ on many official forms and documents. But as anyone born and raised here will tell you, I am English. If I travel to any of those other three countries, I would be regarded as such too.

The United Kingdom is far from being united.

At least half the people in Scotland would like that country to be independent, and to rejoin the EU. Wales also has a Nationalist political party advocating independence and the use of the Welsh language, though it has moderate influence there. Northern Ireland has a complex and tragic history, intertwined with religion and over one hundred years of struggle in the modern era.

Those other three countries also have their own devolved governments. Their powers are different in each one, but generally allow them to make many of their own rules and laws with having to refer to the national government in London. Scotland and Northern Ireland also have different banknotes, though the currency is still The Pound.

We don’t have a ‘Great Britain’ football team either. Each of the four nations has its own team, with dedicated fans and followers. The national Cricket tean is the ‘England’ team, not British. Playing any of the home nations (as they are called) in any sport carries the same rivalry and nationalistic fervour as if we were playing Brazil or Germany.

I am not able to state my nationality as ‘English’ in any offcial capacity, but I have never thought of myself as anything else. In the same way, someone from Scotland or Wales would call themselves Scottish or Welsh, wherever they happened to live.

In my remaining lifetime, I am unlikely to see a total break-up of Great Britain. Even if Scotland voted for- and was granted – independence, Wales and Northern Ireland are unlikely to follow. But given the choice, I would advocate that.

Because we are different, so it makes sense to me to be separate countries.

Some Historical films

One more 2013 film post that only Eddy and Roland commented on back then. Historical dramas this time. Something for everyone, I hope.

beetleypete

Many films have been set in various Historical periods, or specific events in History. Since the silent days, and up to many of  the latest films of the past few years, History has provided rich ground for the inspiration of film makers everywhere. In my usual five film selection, I have tried my best to recommend lesser known films, and to avoid the obvious epics.

The War Lord. This film is getting on a bit, and it shows sometimes. Nevertheless, this 1965 production, starring Charlton Heston and Richard Boone, still has a lot to offer. Set at the beginning of the 11th Century, in Normandy, it tells the story of a Knight, rewarded for loyal service, with a bequest of lands, and a run-down small castle. The land is poor, and the local villagers resentful. Still, the Knight, and his accompanying soldiers, rebuild the old fortress, and begin to impose…

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