Friday, April 01, 2011

The Last Seven Days

I normally try to find a linking theme to justify the random images that I regularly post, but there isn't one this week. Like life, today's post seems meaningless but might be occasionally interesting. You may disagree.

First (or should I say "First up", because I've noticed that a lot of television announcers have started doing this), I really like this 1962 photo of two women who might have been 'flappers' in their youth. It fell out of a book. I remember great-aunts who wore hats like this, even in the 1980s. When their backs were turned, my friend and I would try them on.

Also from the 1960s, this family photo of children in their 'Sunday best'. It's strange how the mini skirt phenomenon affected children's fashions.

My mother went to a school like this and was frequently caned for talking during the lessons. When the war broke out, a lot of the younger teachers left to do 'active service' and they were replaced with Victorian women who had been called out of retirement. She remembers lots of very austere, but slightly confused old ladies.

"Number Forty!" squealed Pam, "that's father's boat."

I love this frontispiece illustration and the accompanying text (apart from the grammatical error).

Is anyone under 50 called Pam? Many names have gone out of fashion, but while I've bumped into the odd Derek and Terry, I've never met a post-1960s Pam. As a name, it isn't aesthetically pleasing - Pam, ham, spam, clam, wham bam thank you mam, etc. Apologies to any Pams out there.

I don't even like my own name, which sounds like the dull thud of a wet, freshly-caught Mackerel landing on the deck of a fishing vessel: phil-ip.

On the subject of vessels:

This illustration is from the good old days when dark beards were synonymous with foreignness and Bolshevism.

I'm not sure how well-researched this novel was. Did Mr Jorgensen spend months accompanying the Royal Canadian Air Force Smoke Jumpers? I'm not convinced that a few men in red costumes would be enough to stop a major forest fire.

This comes from an A4 journal I found last week, recording the progress of the 'Gloucestershire German Speaking Club'.

Beginning in 1938, the book records a vibrant social calendar, including this annual dinner dance:

Apparently, they had Bayrisches Tutti Frutti for pudding, although the local press ommitted to mention that:

Here are the leading lights of the Gloucestershire Deutsche Sprachklub:

I shall refrain from stating the obvious. Sadly, the journal comes to an abrupt halt in the summer of 1939. I wonder what happened to them?

Finally, on Wednesday I took my son up to the London Aquarium, as part of his home education routine. I was very impressed by everything I saw, but I particularly liked this:

My son also loved the aquarium and when we entered the dreaded gift shop, I was more than happy to buy something that would cultivate his interest in marine life. But all I could find were cuddly toys of sharks, and these:

I think they're fridge magnets.

I also saw a stand containing some unusual candle holders:

Who buys these things? I can't begin to imagine the horror that any sane person must feel on receiving one of these as a gift.

I much prefer this heartfelt message, which I received on a birthday card from a good friend:

"Another year older. Another year nearer the nameless terrors of the grave."


Between Channels said...

The Gloucestershire Deutsche Sprachklub 1939 would make an intriguiing 'Play for Today' I think.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I reckon the Gloucestershire Deutsche Spracklub probably decamped to their underground bunker to sit out the war listening to Lord Haw Haw and eating tins of Spam.

I love marvelling at gift shop tat. I never buy any obviously (apart from a rather splendid silver crown pendant on a trip to the Tower of London in 2002, as befits my Kingly status!)

A furry shark sounds deliciously ironic, but then you wouldn't want your son to get the wrong idea about sharks. Or has he already been misled by the 'Pathetic Sharks' strip in Viz?

John Self said...

'First up' reminds me of that other horror, 'firstly'. I think it comes from the same misguided to seem posh or polite that results in people saying 'myself' instead of 'me'. It was best satirised by some cartoonist whose name eludes me, picturing two dons walking across a university quad, deep in discussion, and one saying to the other, "Ninthly..."

Poetry24 said...

First up, another intriguing post, Steerforth. Most of our secondary school, male teachers had served in the war. One, who had flown in bombers, had also been a boxer. He actually thumped boys about the ears, with clenched fists, for something as trivial as talking in his lesson.

Good to hear about the home education trip. Souvenir shops can make your heart sink, can't they?

lucy joy said...

I am currently practising a suitably believable look of fondness and gratitude. I shall undoubtedly be unwrapping something as vulgar as the candle holder on Sunday.
My late grandfather, who was an absolute arsehole once purchased a mug for himself emblazoned with the phrase 'World's Best Dad'. That takes the biscuit.

MikeP said...

I work with a Pam, who is thirtyish and has just had a baby. The name seems to suit her - and that's not a snide remark, by the way.

My late father- and mother-in-law belonged to the Hertfordshire Deutsche Sprachklub, so it wasn't just a Gloucestershire phenomenon. They were gentle Krishnamurti people living in Welwyn Garden City, so my guess is that they were trying to counterbalance the Daily Mail etc being beastly to ordinary Germans. But of course their klub too came to a crashing halt in September 1939.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I am showing my yoof off here, but the lead female in the US version of the office is called Pam. Since it is a wildly popular show it is quite likely that there will be Pams in the future.

jezza klaxon said...

We had only one teacher who'd fought in the Second World War; Mr Oliver, the German master, who'd flown in Bomber Command. He was a colourful old fellow, who liked to drink. One afternoon I was taking some German parents around the school to see if they'd like it when he appeared, slightly drunk.
I introduced them and everybody said hello and so on, then the father asked Mr Oliver if he'd been to Germany. Mr Oliver looked sheepish.
"Well," he said. "Only over it."

I am sure it happened, but now that I write it down, I wonder if it isn't one of those stories that started out as made up - or heard - and I've just come to believe it. Anyway, it unites your two themes rather nicely, doesn't it? If Only his name had been Pam.

Steerforth said...

The Gloucestershire Deutsche Sprachklub 1939 would make an excellent Play for Today, probably written by Stephen Poliakoff.

Laura - I adren't expose son to Viz yet. I'm in enough trouble as it is for exposing him to inappropriate material.

John - Yes, 'firstly' is annoying. I used to do it myself, but like 'less and 'fewer', once you've seen the light there's no going back.

Lucewoman - It's heartening to read someone describe their grandfather as an "arsehole". My grandmother was a complete bitch and made my mother's life hell, but whenever I try to convey this, people look at me as if I'm being terrible.

Mike - I'm sure you're right - there were probably a lot of people who learned German from an internationalist, League of Nations perspective. It's a pity that some of the people in the photo look like they probably wouldn't enjoy Fidler on the Roof.

Paul - I wonder if Pam will catch on again. The names from three generations ago are back, so I suppose it's only a matter of time before we see the return of Joan, Pam, Jean, Len, Sidney, Beryl, Derek, Norman, Barbara and Betty.

Steerforth said...

Jezza - it's a good anecdote and I've decided that it's true!

My favourite anecdote about former WW2 pilots is this one, which was quoted in the Alan Clarke Diaries:

"Apparently (Douglas) Bader was asked to take part in a debate at a respectable girls' school and at some point during the proceedings, recounted one of the times when he was shot down over the Channel:

'...And my engine was on fire, I had two of the fuckers on my tail, one fucker was coming up at me from the left and there were two more fuckers about a hundred feet above me waiting for...' (At this point the headmistress panicked and interrupted. 'Girls, as of course you all know, there was a type of German aeroplane called the FOKKER.') But Bader: 'I don't know about that. All I can tell you is that these chaps were flying Messerschmitts'"

Little Nell said...

The classroom photo doesn't show all the class as some are just 'off camera'. Nevertheless it was quite large by current standards. My first teaching practice class in 1970 had forty children and by the time I retired in 2009, teachers were managing classes of 25 on average. I wonder if the figure in the window was a model representation of the Headteacher with a cane (as your mother experienced) put there as a daily reminder of what would befall disobedient children.

You're right about Pam/Pamela as I know a few in my age bracket (birthdays in the 1950's). Wasn't it also the name of a novel by Samuel Richardson? 'Pamela - or virtue rewarded', obviously compensation for having a name which rhymed with spam.

Steerforth said...

Yes, it was the novel by Richardson that Fielding shamelessly parodied in Shamela.

Lucy R. Fisher said...

I'm rather sad that tills once labelled "9 items or less" are now labelled - you guessed it. First up? Firstly? Nah, just don't care!

Tim F said...

I once had a boss called Pam. She was about my age (so born late 60s).

Maybe her parents were being self-consciously retro.

Gabriela Von Bohlen said...

They buy those things as a gift to ME! I already have a Kate & William tea mug. I also have a porcelain thimble with a picture of the present pope on it. I found that gift awfully confusing. I understand loads of Irish grandmothers get a sense of comfort out of a pope thimble, but actually one has to prick his head with the needle... Anyway, those old ladies in the first picture look wonderful, the sort who drink bucketfuls of sherry and giggle so much their grandchildren go berserk.

Gabriela Von Bohlen said...

By the way, is Pippa a modern name in Britain? As in sister to the bride, Kate. To me it seems like Pam, but I'm not British. It sounds like the best friend of Elizabeth Browning.

Steerforth said...

Pippa is definitely out - I've known a couple of Philippas who were my age, but never a Pippa. I think it was popular between the 1940s and 60s.

So many of the names that were popular when I was at school are completely out of fashion now: Tracy, Debbie, Dawn, Angela, Sarah, Simone, Nicola, Karen, Amanda, Peter, Robert, David, Kevin, Paul, Michael, Gary etc. I didn't like most of them, so it's no loss.

Anonymous said...

It's funny to read that your given name is actually Philip. Not what I'd pictured for you at all! How about Christopher Steerforth?

It's also interesting to read that you feel Nicole and Dawn as well as Michael and Robert have gone out of fashion. In my husband's family, we have a Natalie Dawn (age 30), an Eryn Nicole (age 19) and three Michaels, ranging in age from 30 to 53. Plus, we have a host of Roberts, Robins, Rons, and even one Roderick! But then, maybe our family is just weird!

Canadian Chickadee

Steerforth said...

Christopher? Too many syllables.

I've noticed that there is a far more liberal approach to naming children in the 'colonies'. That's probably because they are more dynamic societies that aren't weighed down by centuries of stupefying tradtion.

Hwever, Britain is catching up. I work with a Paegan and Kelsey!

Anonymous said...

Another fab post, thank you. I like the idea that Will & Kate belong in an aquarium!

Kath said...

First up - I sure would love to have a beer with these two!!

Cat said...

I'm pretty sure the first two ladies are Miss Marple and her friend Mrs. MacGillicuddy.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

'Halstead Erasmus Steerforth'?

Only joking.

I don't think many people are fond of their names, though surely Philip is pretty inoffensive!

Bollops said...

Blimey! Coincidence corner:

Uploaded to my Flickr account last week. My copy of 'Peter Darington, Seaman Detective' had all of the page numbers crossed out with coloured pencil and new ones written beneath. Whoever owned the book clearly didn't believe that the book started with the cover, but with the first page of chapter 1.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I didn't think to mention that all the names I listed (except for Eryn Nicole) were for members of the English branch of my husband's family. The American/Canadian branch are named things like Steve, Joe, Jill, Mary, Mark, Doug, Brad, Janis, Cheri, Terry, and Jim.

The ones who really got stuck with the clinkers were my mother and her twin sister: Mabel & Sadie. Too bad too, as they were two of the loveliest, kindest, gentlest, most well-read ladies you'll ever meet.

Canadian Chickadee

Steerforth said...

Bollops - that's spooky! The title 'Seaman Detective' sounds a little too forensic for my tastes.

Chickadee - they were from the English branch? The world's turned upside down.

Bollops said...

Heh heh, indeed! I wonder what you'll make of this?

Steerforth said...


Unknown said...

Wow. The Gloucestershire Deutsche Sprachclub are fascinating. Were they simply interested in the language and culture? Or were those 'friendship' jaunts set up by Nazis?

The forensic seaman detective had me snorting, meanwhile.