Thursday, January 11, 2018

Winter Past

It seems that even Winters were better back in the day.  Or at least they were reported by the media in a more positive light.  Nowadays, snow is a complete bastard who prevents us getting to work, but back in the sixties it was simply seen as an opportunity for fun.  As for Hogmany, well now we'd have to endure all sorts of dire warnings about the damage all that excessive alcohol consumption would do to our health.  As for those revellers in London - now it would be reported as a drunken riot. 

It's interesting the way in which these old newsreels always try and put a positive spin on Britain and the British, in stark comparison to today's media which always seeks, it seems, to most pessimistic possible spin to put on events.  Of course, back in 1962, the UK still had the last vestiges of an empire, which encouraged the delusion that we were still a force in the world.  Consequently, the pressure was always on to present a positive image of Britain and Britons to the rest of the world: we couldn't be cowed by bad weather, in fact we laughed in the face of snow, we could hold our drink like no other nation on earth could, but still behaved ourselves when drunk and raucous.  All that drunkenly jumping in fountains was just a bit of boisterous fun in the true blue British tradition.

Nowadays we can't even get trains to run in the snow, so much have we declined as a nation.  (Actually, to be fair, back in 1962 the railways probably did cope rather better with snow than they do now.  Most trains were locomotive hauled, predominantly by steam locomotives, whose great weight allowed them better traction on slippery rails than the multiple units which tend to form most modern passenger trains).  Joking aside, I do love these sorts of news reels and public information films.  They allow a glimpse into a world gone by.  A world which might not be that  distant from us in temporal terms, but which look increasingly archaic.  The people we see in them are us, but not us and the world they inhabit is ours but not ours.  We recognise it all, but it just seems a more primitive version of  our world.  The past truly is another country.

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