Category Archives: attitudes

The New Stunt

Wartime cartoonists loved a white feather joke, and some even managed to find one after the war had finished. This is from London Opinion, 1921: As usual, an opinionated older woman is accusing a man, but this is 1921. The war is over, and we should be putting it behind us, so she’s demanding: ‘Young […]

On War Memorials

For much of my life I was indifferent to war memorials. They stood there in the middle of every town and village, often useful as landmarks, but surely all more or less the same? It was only when I started seriously studying the Great War, and especially its cultural effects, that I began to realise […]

Kipling does not mince his words

Ever since the sentimental film My Boy Jack, a myth has grown that his son’s death at Loos made Rudyard Kipling less warlike, more pacific. The evidence mostly points the other way. Kipling was tremendously affected by John’s death, of course, but in ways that made him even more committed to the war effort, more […]

Carlyle’s Statue

The news last week, suddenly, was all about the toppling of statues. When it comes to the bronze representation of a slave-owner like Colston in Bristol, my only feeling is a mild surprise that it hasn’t been quietly got rid of long ago (which would have avoided its noisy elimination this week). But when I […]

On the Use of Books

People like me sometimes express disquiet about the future of the book. The digital is taking over. Young people prefer their phones to a paperback. And so on. This week, though, I learned something that suggests the book still has at the very least a certain cultural cachet. I paid a visit to the workshop […]

‘the word known to all men’

Tom Deveson’s comment on my Y.Y. post reminds us of Joyce and his linguistic taboo-breaking. Robert Lynd was cautious about this: ‘There are things that even hardened war veterans do not like to see in cold print.’ It’s interesting to see the association of swearing and the war. Even civilians like Lynd had gathered that […]

Tipping a policeman

I’m indulging myself during this tedious lockdown by re-reading Arnold Bennett’s Imperial Palace (1930). At the moment I’m wondering about something that occurs in the episode where dynamic Gracie Savott parks her car outside Smithfield market, and asks a policman to keep an eye on it.On leaving the market, ‘she resumed her dark cloak, tipped […]

Frail Women (1932)

Another Maurice Elvey film from Talking Pictures TV, to go with his Who Goes Next? which I wrote about yesterday. Frail Women is a melodrama that uses the trope of the war baby to explore the themes of illegitimacy and responsibility. Mary was born in 1916, placed in a care home and then adopted by […]

Who Goes Next? (1938)

In this time of plague, self-isolation is probably necessary, but is no less frustrating for that. Still, life offers some consolations, and one of them is Talking Pictures, the Freeview TV channel that specialises in old British films, some of them very obscure. I had never previously come across Who Goes Next? directed in 1938 […]

Influenza advice

In view of the current crisis, I thought it might be helpful to share this advice from the Daily Mail of February 24, 1919: