Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Times They Are A Changing.

A couple of weeks ago one of my relatives died. He was my Nan's cousin and had reached the remarkable age of 97. He was a good old sort and continued to look after him self right up till the end. After he died my Uncle, Aunt and Mum came up to clear out his house which by all accounts was a real treasure trove. For instance there were about 6 video recorders, one of which I have inherited, dvd recorders, hi-fi equipment, computers and televisions. Bill was a bit of a techno head and always liked having decent equipment up until the end. The amount of changes he must of seen in his lifetime is hard to imagine. He was born before the age of television, radio, proper cinema (although there were picture houses about), motorised transport, apart from the train would have been a novelty.

Amongst the massive amount of stuff are some really fab things. There are for example a lot of cigarette cards, not unusual in itself but these are still in the boxes, which will probably double their value. There are also a lot of books and my uncle very kindly, knowing my love for them let me have a sort through and take what I wanted.

One very interesting item I found was the 'New Standard Encyclopaedia (as it was spelt then) And World Atlas' 1932 edition. The introduction was written by one Rev C.A. Alington D.D. (Headmaster of Eton). I am interested to see how things have changed in the intervening 75 years since its publication.

One of the first things I came across was an entry for Addis Ababa, which is described as the "capital of Abyssinia", two pages on adultery is described as "sexual intercourse by husband or wife with some other person. The offender may be quite innocent, for instance may think his or her wife or husband is dead, but it is always adultery until the marriage is dissolved by marriage or otherwise". This seems quite enlightened for the times and may have been described as dangerous communist propaganda by the Daily Mail.

It mentions that there were only 8 recognised airports in the UK, being at Croydon, Dover, Lympne, Heston, Woolston, Barton, Liverpool and Cardington. How times have changed. My home town Westcliff is named, along with near neighbour Southend, as a chief watering place. Having been into town on Saturday night for a drink with some mates not a lot has changed there!!

National Socialism wasn't even mentioned, as it had yet to rear its ugly head to any great degree , though the entry regarding the overthrow of the Italian government by Mussolini's Fascists in 1922 rather sweetly says prevented a civil war. Thankfully Il Duce is chastised later for being more a dictator than a premier.

Nationalisation is proposed as an idea that has been put forward in Great Britain. Iran was still Persia and a constitutional monarchy. Peterborough was still in Northamptonshire and hadn't yet moved down the road to Cambridgeshire.

Page 1184 says that "In Great Britain it is the law that shops and places of amusement must be closed on Sunday...shops where refreshments and newspapers are sold the law is tacitly broken..." string 'em up I say.

Sunbathing is, we are told on the same page, is extremely healthy and somewhat surprisingly for the time advocates nudism as beneficial to health. Very cheeky at the time I'd have thought.

I chuckled at the entry for tattooing which is described as a "practice among uncivilised nations of marking the skin by incisions into which are introduced charcoal or coloured liquids" it goes on to say that "the practice, which was condemned by Moses, is now failing into disuse". Little did I know that I am both one of a dying breed and uncivilised. Hurrah for that.

There is so much more to look at in this fascinating book and I may well return to it in another entry. For the time being though I'll mention one more interesting omission. The Muslim faith, now probably the largest faith in the world is hardly mentioned and is not given its own entry. A three and a half line entry on Islam says "Word used for the Mohammedian world". This says a lot about the arrogance of the old empire. This ancient religion was deemed unimportant and anyway we ruled over them all anyway so they didn't warrant a mention. Well I thought the omission said a great deal about how the world was, from the view of a Britain in 1932.



Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Fabulous! And hang on to those cigarette cards; if they are pre-Second World War they are worth a m int and could be auctioned at Sothebys or somewhere similar.

Has the encyc. got any maps? I love looking at old maps showing how the world has changed. Especially the Middle East!

10:26 am

Blogger Simple Pieman said...

Facinating - you must tell us more in due course.

As you say, Bill would have seen many changes but it was good to read that he kept up with them to the end. He lived to a good age and I would suggest that this might have a lot do do with having an active mind.

2:27 pm


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