School’s off!

Very interesting article about wearing school uniform shorts in winter – then and now


1954_snow_boysI don’t really recall many of the snowy winters we had when I was a boy, well apart from the big freeze of 1963 when I was fourteen which was more cold than snowy, but I guess there must have been many winters that had snow in the 1950s and early 60s. On my flickr site I have a photograph of me in the 1950s taken in the snow in which I’m wearing short trousers and wellington boots, which has been very popular logging nearly 3,400 views to date.

Wearing short trousers in the extremes of winter was not odd or unusual, that’s what boys wore in that era, we defended the wearing of shorts with some pride and indeed, any boy whose mother put him in long trousers simply because it was cold was ridiculed and branded a cissy or a “Mummy’s boy”. In retrospect, I suspect this derision…

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Loved and Loathed: The Straw Boater Hat, a history


The following is a rather pointless essay I wrote in 2004 for an exercise on cultural artefacts during my Masters in Creative Writing. It may prove diverting if the paint is drying too slowly.

Loved and Loathed

The Straw Boater Hat



The Boater hat is an item of clothing that has been both loved and hated. Throughout the hundred and fifty odd years that this style of hat has been in existence, it has been viewed at various times as a charming item of leisure wear for men and women, as an effete symbol of privilege as a compulsory article of school attire, and as jaunty accoutrement for barbershop quartets, vaudevillian performers and appreciators of haute couture. Now generally relegated to the status of a nostalgia item only sported on occasions such as the Henley Royal Regatta, the boater’s has been a curious journey which has seen the…

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Review: Jennings Goes to School by Anthony Buckeridge

So This is School!

Jennings Goes to School by Anthony Buckeridge‘You’ve heard of the Wizard of Oz, of course. Well, obviously, the opposite of wizard is ozard, isn’t it?’

Jennings conceded the point.

‘That shepherd’s pie we’ve just had was supersonic muck so it’s wizard, but this school jam’s ghastly so it’s ozard. Everything ghastly is ozard; being a new chap’s pretty ozard for a bit, but you’ll get used to it when you’ve been here as long as I have.’”

Jennings Goes to School, the first of the Jennings series, was published in 1950. At this point children’s books were still wholesome and pure, staying right away from difficult issues like divorce or sexuality. The Jennings books obeyed this rule even after the revolution in children’s literature that began in the 60s and is still continuing today. They are unusual in that few school stories were written to be deliberately humorous, and indeed the boys’ school story…

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