Friday, 22 February 2013

“Sit up straight,” 1946

The period immediately following the grand finale of the Second World War found Britain exhausted and impoverished. In an act of unprecedented social engineering, a mass re-energisation was planned, including injecting everyone under the age of 50 with orange juice, and the introduction of the ‘Doctor, Doctor’ joke as a national fillip.

But not all were convinced. Sir Constant Payne, Minister of Labour, who coined the phrase ‘feed them sticks and leave the carrots to their idiot dreams,’ took a dim of view of the project, ridiculing it as ‘no better than putting the country to Nanny’s bosom to cork its mewling’.

His idea was to bully the nation back to its senses, and this was the first of 115 posters he commissioned from the NOI. In his memoirs, No Book For Fools, he wrote

[T]he sight of Britain’s young men slouching like dead tramps in a canoe was enough to make a chap want to take a ferula to their sit-upons. I resolved to get the nation’s backs straight once more – even if I had to break them myself.

Payne went on to present the Open University’s first panel game, British Foreign Policy 1381-1955: A Critical Study.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

“Here’s a sight for sore eyes. And soon it could be yours,” 1989

The privatisation of government assets was reaching boiling pitch by the late 1980s and, having sold off Britain’s oil, gas, water, electricity and weather, there seemed little left in HM Government’s asset bank except food and miasma. That is, until one Treasury brightclogs came up with the notion of selling off Britain’s views.

The NOI was co-opted to design the advertising campaign, and the flotation took place on 3rd November 1989. The initial share price of 83p rose to £10.32 by the end of the first day’s trading, making multimillionaires of some lucky millionaires.

Some of the premium views were bought by foreign interests. Most people know that the view of the Houses of Parliament from Albert Embankment is owned by the Japanese prison system; less well known is that the view of Huyton & Prescot Golf Club from the northbound carriageway of the M57 is owned by the bass player from Boney M.