Do you remember hearing of the crude wartime squib about the four things wrong with American GIs stationed in Britain: 'over paid, over fed, over sexed and over here'.
Well, this wonderful German propaganda leaflet builds on that theme. It was printed on cheap newsprint style paper, with a story on the back (see below) of Dorothy and her dalliance with an American officer. I imagine these leaflets were dropped by air by the thousand on British troops.
It builds on a sense of resentment that while British soldiers were fighting in Europe, Americans - just some of them of course - were on base in Britain. And on the look out for casual sex.
There's a marvellous website on sex and wartime propaganda which features this among many other leaflets and images. It was produced in April 1944 for use against British troops in Italy. The leaflet is coded with a small triangle and the numbers 126/4 44 - which apparently shows that this was printed by the Propaganda-Einsatz-Fuhrer organisation of the German 14th Army.
I've been given the leaflet by a good friend. Thanks!
Irish National Conservative League
A political curiososity - bought from The Green Room, a great place for Irish political ephemera (and lots more besides) on Archway Road.
Graced with the Irish harp, this is a medal issued by the National Conservative League, founded in 1884. As the proprietor (himself Irish) remarked when making the sale, Irish Conservatives were an endangered species even in the 1880s. Sufficiently so, it seems, to embrace socialist-style slogans: 'Unity is Strength' and 'We Hold Together'
So what exactly was the National Conservative League? There's not much to go on on the 'net. I wondered whether it was a Northern Unionist organisation - but then it would be displaying the Ulster palmed hand rather than the harp.
My guess is that it was a response to the rise of Irish Home Rulers, followers of Parnell, who became such a powerful political force in Ireland from the mid-1880s. Anyone out there with any further info?
A Kentish Town resurrection.
It's the best piece of High Street conservation I've seen in a long time.
I've blogged before about the wonderful shop signage which came to light during renovation on Kentish Town High Street recently. I feared and expected that the last trace of 'E. Mono - For Value' would quickly be obliterated.
I was wrong. The kebab shop which has now opened at 287 Kentish Town Road has not only kept the signage. It's adopted the name.
'E. Mono' lives again!
I put my head in the door this morning as I was taking these photographs. And the man gently prising a shish kebab into a piece of pitta confirmed that the name was taken from the old signage - there was no one by the name of Mono involved in the new business.
But they have certainly adopted the old name with enthusiasm. There's a pub style signboard with the name - it's on the engraved glass in the shop front, and in the tiling of the counter.
What an admirable piece of historical continuity amid the ephemeral businesses of a fairly anonymous high street. I for one will be buying a few 'freshly prepared kebab wraps' from the place simply to support this initiative.
It still begs the question: in what sort of business did E. Mono provide such value? My earlier blog prompted a response from Angela, who is keen to find out more because one of her forbears ran an adjoining shop. She's found the accompanying entry in a phone book from the late 1920s, which I post here with her permission.
Now, over to you. Commercial directories and other sources should provide an answer. My guess - given that among the other "Mono" entries in the phone book was a tailor and a costumier - is that this was either a tailoring business or a garment shop. But it is simply a guess. I am hoping that a reader of this blog will be able to tell us more.
Shopping with 'A Mission'
Four years ago I wrote a book. It's about how the Kashmir conflict started in 1947. A Mission in Kashmir was published in India and did rather well there. It's now out of print, and as a service to the world I have posted the full text on line.
The book was never published in Britain - and although it was, and is, available online (from Amazon for instance), it was never distributed in bookshops over here. So while I have had the pleasure of seeing my book on sale in Delhi, Srinagar and elsewhere, I've never seen it in a bookshop in the UK.
Until today. When I came across a copy in the Oxfam bookshop in Highgate. Priced at £4. I am curious to know how that copy got there, but it was nice to see it on the shelves.
But my dilemma - do I buy it myself or not. I have a few copies left, but not all that many. And I do keep doling out copies to those with an interest in the subject. And it is a bargain price (though the India cover price isn't that much higher).
What did I decide? Yes, there is now another copy of A Mission in Kashmir in my study.
From London Shop Fronts, Creative Commons - link below
I've walked past Blustons hundreds of times. It has the most striking shop front on Kentish Town High Street. By quite a way. Today, my curiosity took me inside.
Blustons has been here since the 1920s. It has huge glass displays - as you can see. They take up half the total floor space or more. Dated, conservative - but not at all tawdry or mildewed. The "ladies clothing" is bright, stylish (if not entirely in style), and to my lay eye appears excellent value.
Inside, there are wonderful sepia portraits of the founders (you can see them in Kim Cunningham's photo here, along with the current proprietor, apparently the grandson) - and cuttings about 'the shop time forgot', and similar. Otherwise, it's fairly austere. Not much in the way of shop fittings. Just half-a-dozen or so racks. And a friendly welcome. The shop wasn't exactly doing a roaring trade for a Saturday lunchtime - but I wasn't the only customer.
Blustons backs on to the most hidden and atmospheric Kentish Town locality - the Crimean quarter. Alma, Inkerman, Raglan and Cathcart (the last two were British military commanders) Streets were built shortly after the Crimean war, and have survived largely in tact. Willes - of Willes Road nearby - was another Crimean general.
Ewan-M: Creative Commons
Amid these streets is a pub, 'The Crimea'. At least, it was a pub. The building's been turned into flats, but charmingly the signboard survives. A rather distinguished representation of the Crimean war.
This blog has been illustrated with photos from other sites. My thanks to the London Shop Fronts site, to photographer Kim Cunningham whose own website is well worth a visit, and Ewan Munro's photostream for the 'Crimea' pub sign.
A winter wander
Every so often, I spend a weekend afternoon trawling round second-hand bookshops and what you might call vintage shops in search of, well, anything that attracts my interest. Today was my winter wander - around Highgate and Archway, taking in two good charity shops, Oxfam and Mind, the excellent Ripping Yarns near Highgate tube, and the always intriguing Green Room down Archway Road.
This is my favourite purchase - bought entirely because of the wonderful, and gloriously dated, cover. It came out in 1929, don't you know. It's sub-titled 'a handbook for electors', and was clearly aimed at the new women's vote (women only got the vote on the same terms as men, I believe, in 1928).
The principal author was Amabel Williams-Ellis - whose father, John Strachey, was editor of the 'Spectator' and similarly named brother dallied variously with communism, socialism and Oswald Mosley.
This too I bought largely because of the remarkable cover. The book is by a Zionist writer, Izak Goller - 'stark, undiluted melodrama', in his words - and was published by the Ghetto Press in London in 1931.
Goller co-founded the press 'to provide both the Jewish and non-Jewish English reading public with modern Anglo-Jewish literature.'
It is, to me at least, a bibliographic curiosity - in great condition, and hardly expensive at a tenner. If anyone knows anything more about the author or indeed the symbolical importance of the revolt of the Maccabees, do let me know.
Richard Acland's Forward March - published in 1941, with a remarkably dull cover - was a key step in the foundation that year of Common Wealth, a radical (slightly libertarian) party which went on to win a series of wartime Parliamentary by-elections.
Acland was a Liberal MP and a Christian progressive who allied with the author J.B. Priestley and a former communist Tom Wintringham to set up Common Wealth. It was a remarkable phenomenon but collapsed very quickly with the return to peacetime politics. The last vestiges of the party survived into the 1990s.
All the books came from Ripping Yarns. At the Green Room, I bought some intriguing bagdes. The 'silver' badge I got - for a very modest amount - because I though it was a Common Wealth badge or tie pin. Their emblem was a 'W' inside a 'C'. I'm now not so sure.
I had no idea what the S.U.M. was - though the badge is very striking. I suspect after sleuthing round the interent that it stands for the Sudan United Mission - bringing the gospel to the 'dark' continent, and all that.
Anyway, that's what I did during my afternoon wander. I hope you approve.
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