Carry on keeping calm


Wording by AP Waterfield

Round about now* is the Eightieth anniversary of the Ministry of Information (MOI) stiffening the sinews through national propaganda by sturdy encouragement to Keep calm and Carry on.

Located in the viscera of Senate House, that scintillating zigarat on Malet Street which now is the administrative core of University of London, three morale boosting posters were created in the build-up to World War II (yet subsequently largely unused and those printed were pulped to assist in the paper shortage. The other two were ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution; Will Bring Us Victory’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril; Defend it with all Your Might). *sometime between & 6.vii.39

By virtue of a Humean contiguity of ideas, it struck the grey matter that creators of the Carry On films might have taken their idea from that MOI morale booster.

The poster’s sentiment has dated far better.

The first of the 33 films was Carry On Sergeant, made in 1958. Peter Rogers, director and Norman Hudis, chief writer served in the war and must have been aware of the aphorism: adding Keep Calm before most of the film titles – apart perhaps from Screaming – maintains sense. [Puzzling & relieving how the premise of that franchise of films seems so frantically alien and dated.]

Mary & Stuart Manley, owners of Barter Books at Alnwick have the credit for beaming it once more into public consciousness, having found the ancient poster qua rallying cry in a box. The ripples from deciding to hang it up in their store are still to calm.

Five of the series revolved round military themes

As an aside, it seems Carry on Camping at Glasto this year is unlikely to be blighted by rain with Organizers urging Festival-goers to drink plenty of water and protect heads and skin. Yes: do.

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