Tuesday 9 July 2019


Heaven knows television has little to offer these days, especially on the main terrestrial channels – but there's always Talking Pictures TV. This is the ultimate retroprogressive TV channel, offering a diet of old movies, mostly from before the Seventies, and old TV, with an emphasis on detective dramas and what the French call policiers. And then there are the documentaries, one of which – Our Weekends in 1949 – I've just been watching.
  This was the year in which I was born, into a world that now seems in many ways as remote as some distant past. The documentary is filled with English faces such as you no longer see, and voices such as you no longer hear. The clothes, the cars, the smoking, the awful teeth, the lean angular bodies, all are of another age – but so, most conspicuously, is the whole feel of the cheerful, sane, commonsensical England depicted in the film. These 1949 weekenders are English people going about their leisure activities – hiking, cycling, boating, playing cricket on the village green, picnicking at the lido, bell ringing, playing bowls and skittles, drinking in pubs that open at 6 and close at 10.30 after a jolly singsong (Me and My Gal). They are English people being, quite unselfconsciously, English, part of a single, amiable, cohesive nation, united perhaps as never before by the recently ended war. It looked like another world, and being reminded of it – and of the fact that it existed in my lifetime – was, among other things, intensely sad.

1 comment:

  1. I was born later, but I find myself enjoying movies and books from that era more and more.