This vintage real photo postcard extols the glory of war. We see an image of a cute little boy playing with his toy soldiers. Above him, we see an image of a smiling World War I soldier looking down on the young lad. Perhaps this photograph can be interpreted as a soldier at war fondly remembering his days playing with toy soldiers. A second interpretation may be that a little boy is fantasizing fighting in a “real war” while he is playing with his militaristic toys. It is clear that this photo postcard was aimed to stimulate feelings of patriotism during a time of war. Many generations of young boys have had a skewed view of war. Fighting wars has been viewed as glorious and exciting. One teenager once told me that he didn’t want to live his life without having the experience of going to war. When these young…

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Bermondsey summers

A beautiful piece by Pete Johnson about summers in the 1950s and ’60s when English children could be so much more inventive than today, when imagination was the key.


What is it about memory, that makes us remember summers as being better in our youth? Ask most people about the weather, and they will almost always agree that the summer was better when they were young. Six weeks of unbroken sun, school holidays spent outside, with perhaps the occasional thundery shower, that helped to clear the air. Given that this might span a time period from 1958, to 1998, it cannot really have any basis in fact. Although I do not have the real statistics to hand, (and cannot be bothered to look them up) I am sure that we didn’t always have fabulous summers, with weeks of Mediterranean heat, and unbroken blue skies. So why is it that this is how I remember them?

Before we moved to Kent, when I was fifteen years old, I spent my summers on the streets of Bermondsey, a South London district…

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