It’s All Gone A Bit 1952

London, Observatory

Union Jacks – they’re everywhere you look this week. Carnaby Street has a cool glittery one which only reads as a flag when you reach a certain angle, like the Channel Four logo. Liberty has one made of flowers, Aquascutum one made of diamonds, and they’re appearing in ethnic colours and in shop window displays beside Brenda and the gang across the city.

Comparisons between the fifties and the present are in all the papers. 1952 was apparently all bad; no central heating, no frozen food, rationing and not many TVs. Actually that all sounds quite good, and at least their tuna wasn’t radioactive.

But it’s pointless to compare the present with the past. The world has – well, not evolved exactly – but changed. Okay, we still have Old Etonians in power, Bruce Forsyth is still on TV and no doubt Cliff Richard will be at Wimbledon as usual, and look at all the TV channels that offer, between them, roughly the same amount of decent programming as in 1952. And soon we’ll be moving closer back to 1952 with the reappearance of the drachma and the peseta.

And retro is everywhere! They’ve pulled down the filling station at the end of my street and put up an idealised facsimile of a filling station that’s actually a restaurant called The Filling Station. What makes it more confusing is that the original filling station also sold food. And camping, that’s back for people visiting the Olympics, although the campsites are somewhere past Reading, which is presumably rebranding itself as part of London for the event, just as Easyjet is doing with Southend Airport.

What I don’t see anywhere are 1952 prices. A cab-driver told me that the fares went up in April ready for the visitors, and there are price-hikes happening all over the capital. The worst example of pointless nostalgia branding I’ve seen so far is Addidas Limited Edition Shower Gel (i.e. it has a tiny Union Jack on the label). At least Liberty’s has gone down the tasteful route of decking its wooden balconies with good old-fashioned bunting. Expect more jubilee-related foolishness in the week ahead!

10 comments on “It’s All Gone A Bit 1952”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    Is that bunting? Ohhh, Collins says it is, in its second meaning. First meaning is coarsely woven material used for flags and decoration. That’s what I thought – the yards and yards draped over speakers’ platforms and parade floats, usually in national colours. A retired actress/director of a friend’s acquaintance is probably going to be surprised with a union jack and an afternoon tea and possibly a solar powered waving Queen Elizabeth. The Toronto Globe & Mail is publishing a portrait of her majesty one strip at a time. (I tried to avoid that word but failed)By the end of the week readers will have the whole picture which could then be glued on cardboard to create a life sized portrait with corgi.

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    My wife tells me “bunting” probably comes from the German word “bunt” or color. The words seems to have a fair number of meanings, includig a whole species of smallish birds.
    Re.: “…a portrait of her majesty one stip at a time.” Now, really, Helen you didn’t think a contributer to this most excellent blog would be tempted to take those 10 words and run with them, did you? Admin’s blog is not a part of Rupert M’s empire.

  3. Alan Morgan says:

    Up here – no joke – we’ve already had the jubilee. The local school did it last week (so the village did too) as it clashed with other stuff.

    The queen is the queen, but people are busy over the bank holiday.

  4. Me says:

    1952 prices – Asda are diing cups of tea in the cafe at 23p – the price then apparently.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    By the way, that camping scene shown above – that’s not Reading, even I know that – the last time I saw that spot it was waste ground with some trash trees and a few clumps of wild grass, accessed from the road by a rough sort of path. It was the ending spot for the Mayor’s river festival. Have they really raked and seeded the area for a special group’s camping pleasure or is it a backdrop to fool Reading campers into thinking they’re in London?

  6. glasgow1975 says:

    I’m sick of every bloody packet, tin & box in the supermarket slapping on the flag & calling it a special edition.
    There’s even an Olympic gold febreeze air-freshener that smells of ‘victory’ – surely that’s sweaty lycra?

  7. admin says:

    Hang on – in 1952 a cup of tea was 6d, and 23p is around 4/6d!

  8. Gretta says:

    Admin – that maths is beyond me. Does it work out at six cups of tea for 1p?

    Glasgow – Can an exception be made for Ma’amite? Please?

  9. Helen Martin says:

    Well, I’m hoping we get tv coverage of the flotilla on the Thames because we have a group of cancer survivors paddling a dragon boat in it. It isn’t the team called A-breast in a Boat but I think it has a catchy name as well.
    Too bad we didn’t have one of the bathtub teams because we started bathtub racing.
    That is my sports commentary for the moment.

  10. Me says:

    I’m quoting the asda magazine on the price! I knew I shouldn’t have recycled it so soon.

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