Friday, October 05, 2018

'My Lucky Break'

That's right, I've been reading those old issues of Meccano Magazine again.  As ever, the advertisements fascinate me as much as the articles.  As I've noted before, many of them are for stuff which it would no longer be deemed appropriate to promote in a publication primarily aimed at teenagers.  This army recruitment ad would certainly fall into that category.  Nowadays there are complaints about the army trying to recruit 'underage' soldiers when they are sixteen through its apprentice schemers and here, back in 1963, they are busy recruiting apprentices as young as fifteen.  But back in 1963 the minimum school leaving age was fifteen - what we'd now consider still to be children were going off into paid employment.  Predominantly unskilled employment at that as, if you left school at fifteen, then the odds were that you would do so without qualifications.

So, to be fair, the army apprenticeship scheme was at least offering predominantly working class kids an alternative route into skilled professions.  As the ad proudly says - their apprenticeships led to trades which, in civilian life, were union recognised.  Which was important back in an era when trade unions were much stronger and could effectively guard against the 'dilution' of skilled work through the introduction of less qualified workers by insisting on minimum skill levels for posts. Interestingly, while there is a brief glimpse of a rifle, the emphasis of the ad is firmly focused upon the idea of learning new skills and gaining qualifications.  No mention is made of the fact that you might, eventually, find yourself in a war zone with complete strangers trying to kill you.  But, as I noted earlier, this sort of ad just wouldn't be allowed these days, not least because of the comic strip format, clearly designed to appeal to impressionable adolescents. Lets not forget that British comics of the time were full of similar looking strips glorifying the exploits of heroic British 'Tommies' in World War Two for the edification of their teenage readers.  As we've noted before, the past really is another country...

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