A New Gift: Venereal Disease

OK, I know the Keep Calm and Carry On poster is a hit, but really, WHY would you want to wear this on your t-shirts! I’m giving a conference paper on health propaganda next week, most likely Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases, but VD was also another area that I researched (not personally, I hasten to add), and this is what came up when I searched for “Venereal Disease”: http://www.zazzle.co.uk/venereal+disease+gifts?pg=4

Bill Pertwee: The Warden Says

I’m currently trying to write my abstract for the “Framing Film” conference at the University of Winchester, and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours this afternoon watching “The Warden Says” introduced by Bill Pertwee (on VHS, how old school.. and now I see they are available on DVD!)… thank goodness such little gems have survived!

I know far more about the posters themselves, but there are a few good examples to use for the abstracts from the 48 mini-films (many only a minute or two, to one mini-film at around 20 minutes!), covering recruitment, careless talk, the blackout, cigarette dangers, careless sneezes cost diseases, food choices, dig for victory, salvage (tin/bones/paper), holiday harvests, save fuel and save water! Many echo the messages used in the posters, whilst others actually feature the posters themselves. That should fit well with the ‘call for papers’ on “Cinema’s relationship with, and even reliance upon, the other visual arts, whether for subject matter, inter-textual promotion or graphic design, is central to our understanding and appreciation of the medium.”

DVD 1: The Warden Says
DVD 2: The Warden Says: II

My bucket list starts with: Visit Canada

Visit Canada
Canada looks a beautiful, friendly country, and all the Canadians I’ve met (and shared rooms with on my travels) have been lovely! I read all the Anne of Green Gables novels when I was younger, and have always wanted to go and see Prince Edward Island… also want to get the train across to the Rockies, see the bright lights of Toronto, ski in Banff, and just take in the beautiful landscapes… while trying out some daft activities and taking a million photos no doubt, see: http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/drbexl/ for evidence of that!

Publish my PhD as a Book
I will never feel like I’ve finished my PhD until I see my name on the spine of a book in the bookstores. There’s plenty of interesting material in my PhD (see http://www.ww2poster.co.uk), lots of interest in it (see the recent furore over ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’: http://drbexl.blogspot.com/2009/03/keep-calm-and-carry-on.html). Originally I intended to call my book “It’s Up To You” after a poster which takes the Kitchener “Your Country Needs You” as a design inspiration, but now Keep Calm and Carry On seems far more appropriate, as I’m particularly interested in why such images still resonate over 60 years later). At my PhD viva we spent most of the time discussing turning the thesis into a book (would probably take around a year on top of a steady job), and the book proposal is in process… meantime, travelling and job-seeking have rather taken away from that!

Visit Israel
OK, so it’s another “visit somewhere”, as the remainder may be… I want to take a trip to Israel with http://www.oakhall.co.uk. I know loads of people who’ve been and they all say the same thing… really tiring, but completely awesome and inspiring (well, that describes pretty much any Oak Hall trip that I’ve been on!)

See a Formula 1 Race live
I used to follow Formula 1 avidly, watching heats, races, repeats, highlights – you name it, and reading all the magazines. I then realised how much of my life this was taking up and pretty much went cold turkey. However, getting to know Emma @ Manchester we chatted about Formula 1 lots, and I would still like to go to see a live race… not sure where yet. I have stood on the starting grid and podium at Albert Park in Australia, and may watch some of this weekend’s… if only to remind me of the time I spent in Australia (and there’s somewhere else to go back to!)… I had a day’s race car driving experience: http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk/career/big_achievements/drivingexperience.htm, whic was great… bring on the skid-pan racing next!

Run the London or New York Marathon
I’ve done a couple of 10ks, and would even need to build back up to that length at the moment, but I’ve always wanted to run the London Marathon (although sometimes I think the New York would suit my traveller mind more). I have actually completed a full-length marathon event: http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk/career/big_achievements/moonwalk.htm, which is maybe almost harder than a daytime marathon, but still, running a marathon beckons…

Keep Calm and Carry On

“For many the wartime slogans, such as Dig for Victory, Careless Talk Costs Lives, and Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases, have never been forgotten. Such slogans have been passed on as a part of our common heritage,” says Dr Rebecca Lewis, a historian who has made a study of the subject. “Posters that were not published or were withdrawn also make for interesting study, particularly for reasons as to why they were rejected,” she adds. “However, there do not seem to be many examples of these, although whether this is because records of unsuccessful designs were not kept or because there were not many was not established.”

Simon Edge, ‘Sign of the Times’, Daily Express, Thursday March 19, 2009, p36

So, a part of my thesis is finally published… my book is still in the planning stages, and the website: http://www.ww2poster.co.uk/ needs a distinct overhaul and I am throwing around ideas for an associated blog, but I’m not there yet [EDIT: See http://ww2poster.wordpress.com/]! In the meantime, I’ve been quoted in the national press in relation to a story which now I’ve done a bit of a hunt, appears to have been circulating for some time, re the discovery of the unpublished Second World War posters ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ ten years ago by Barter Books, and it’s continued surprise success (although with my love of wartime posters I don’t find the idea that people love posters surprising, it is surprising that such a generally non-visual design is popular, but the slogan is very strong, and very apt in the present times)!

PhD Findings
My PhD ‘The Planning, Design and Reception of British Home Front Propaganda Posters of the Second World War’ was awarded (without corrections) in June 2004 by what is now the University of Winchester.

A section from pages 104-5 of my thesis (copy held in the Imperial War Museum, and in the RKE Centre at the University of Winchester):

The poster with a proclamation from the King was to be ‘plastered everywhere in order to drive the contents into everyone’s head’.[1] By August 1939 war was regarded as inevitable, and by 9 August the finished drawings were submitted to Macadam for final approval. Any adaptations to proportions would then be made and the posters printed.[2] By 23 August the proportions to be printed were decided. The percentages were: ‘Freedom is in Peril’ (for remote areas), 12% (figure 22); ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’, 65%; and ‘Your Courage, etc.’, 23% (figure 1).[3] The Treasury had approved costs for a single poster, three designs were produced, exceeding estimates by under £50. “Our Fighting Men Depend on You” for factories, works, docks and harbours, was also printed, for which no allowance had originally been made.[4] By September, ‘Your Courage’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril’ were already being posted throughout the country. ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’ was printed and held in reserve for when the necessity arose, for example, a severe air-raid, although it was never actually displayed. Soon after war was declared, the small poster ‘Don’t Help the Enemy, Careless Talk may give away vital secrets’ (figure 62) was approved by the War Office and was ready to put into production. 58,000 copies had already been distributed by September 17, and 75,000 copies were to be despatched daily from September 26.[5] By the end of September 1939, roughs for further designs had been prepared and approved, including messages from the King and the Queen, designs specifically for factories and docks, and designs specifically for each branch of the armed services: reassurance, not recruiting, posters.[6]

[1] PRO INF 1/10, ‘Functions and Organisation of the Ministry. Memorandum by E.B. Morgan’, early 1939.
[2] PRO INF 1/266, ‘Memo from Vaughan to Macadam’, August 9 1939.
[3] PRO INF 1/226, ‘Letter from Macadam to W.G.V. Vaughan’, August 23 1939. In the same folder, ‘Demand for Printing Slip for HMSO’, August 31 1939, and ‘Poster Campaign: Distribution’, November 1 1940, give details of the exact quantities ordered on August 31 1939, in a variety of sizes and in both broadside and upright versions, and where distributed. PRO INF 1/302, ‘Summary of Activities of Home Publicity Division’, September 28 1939 notes that all sizes were included, from 20ft. by 10ft. down to 15” x 10”.
[4] PRO INF 1/226, ‘Letter from I.S.Macadam, MOI to E.Rowe-Dutton, Treasury’, September 4 1939.
[5] PRO INF 1/6, ‘First Report on the Activities of the Ministry of Information from September 3 to September 17 1939’, September 1939.
[6] PRO INF 1/302, ‘Summary of Activities of Home Publicity Division’, September 28 1939.

I have lots more I could say, and hope to be back with some more considered comments, summarising elements of my PhD, before I get round to the book!

Some Links:

“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

“The slogan itself is a great discussion starter. Telling someone “there’s probably no God” is a bit like telling them that they’ve probably remembered to lock their front door. It creates the doubt that they might not have done so.”

Read more on Christian Today

DespairWear and Subversion!


I love the subverted messages that come through from Despairwear (in fact any recognisable brand that can be subverted is of interest, has been so since I have seen people subverting the Second World War posters that I spent many years studying for my PhD!)

I thought this t-shirt was particularly apt, as I don’t think I’ve quite found my focus with this blog yet, so it’s likely to be highly relevant, ah, the New Year, all will change… right?!