Monday, 23 May 2016


The Hancock programme last night got me thinking about the changes to society since that was broadcast in 1960.  Fifteen years before these men had been young lads sharing a wild adventure, one that shared real danger both for them as individuals and for the nation as a whole.  The actors themselves knew the reality of both war and reunion parties as all had served somewhere or other. Those trapped in normal work were able to escape this through war service and great numbers attempted an acting career after demob.  Hancock and the others clearly succeeded while others fell by the wayside and returned to real work.
The contrasting attitudes of Hancock and Sid to reunion tells much.  Tony is desperate to see his old chums remembering them as they were fifteen years before, Sid couldn't care less as his mob were self seeking types and he remembered them for that!  How many millions of men watching this programme (and Hancock could get 25 million watching at the time!) identified with one or the other?  How many had similar reunions?  I wonder if reunions became more important as time past? A reunion after fifteen years finds men possibly building a family, a career or deeply involved in survival.  Thirty years on when in their early fifties life is different for many and looking back becomes more important.  Comradeship from dangerous situations revives and family or work pressures may ease up somewhat.  
Many men endured the Great War and enjoyed it!  There was death and hard slogging, mud and bullying NCO's but the comradeship and even fun behind the lines was unlike that found anywhere else after the war.  Those men could find comrades throughout the country, some known others merely men with fellow feeling and similar memories.
Civilians never get that sort of comradeship.
Hancock could not be broadcast today.  Thousands may have served in the army but the vast majority of the nation would not understand the feelings engendered nor the need for old soldiers to reunite.  I doubt they would understand returning empty bottles to get the 'tuppence' on each either!  While Hancock was making a thousand pound a week making these programmes ex-servicemen were lucky to get double figures, and this was at a time when 'we never had it so good!'  TV had become the norm in most houses and only two channels to choose from.  Radio was seven years away from 'pop music' and people on there still spoke 'with a plum in their mouths.'  Only in 1960 did the working man find a bit more money and some even ventured into buying a car!  Crossing the Atlantic was still made by the Cunard line ships and only the very rich boarded the BOAC jetliners such as the 'Comet.' 
I was still at school.
My dad served in the 'Kings Own Scottish Borderers' 2nd Battalion from 1925 - until 1932 protecting the Empire and keeping the natives in China and India compliant.  He never forgot his regiment!  At the outbreak of WW2 he, like all others, awaited conscription which eventually came his way.  He attempted to return to the KOSB's but was refused on the grounds that he was 'too old!'  He would be 33 then!  Instead he was placed in an artillery battery where he spent the war however I think he still saw his regiment as the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, soldiers are like that.


soubriquet said...

I'll be listening to Hancock tomorrow. My dad was a founder member of the Far Eastern Prisoners of War society, 'FEPOW' and, as you describe, he had friends all over the country.
Their motto was "To keep going the spirit that kept us going", and, especially in its early days it served to help those comrades who fell on hard times, those with what we now know as PTSD, who lost families, jobs, everything as a result of their wartime experience.
FEPOW has now, I think folded, so few are left, but I had the honour of meeting many extraordinary men in my life, as a result of my dad's connections. People of the highest bravery, integrity, resourcefulness, and people who'd seen the worst man can do to man,I met men who had been slaves. Yet somehow they came away without hatred.

the fly in the web said...

My father said that his wartime soldiers - mostly from the more 'interesting' areas of Glasgow - reckoned the army was a doddle after the slavery of their civilian lives...and he reckoned that that was one of the factors in the post war election result - no one wanted to return to those conditions.

Adullamite said...

Soub, FEPOW I think ended a year or so ago. So few left and all with memories we don't know about.
I've read a bit about their time and met one or two without knowing it. Some indeed did hate afterwards, yet others moved on as they say. Quite how they survived I could not imagine.

Fly, That factor certainly made many vote Labour, a very different Labour from that we have today.
Working in shipbuilding or steel or many of the other Glasgow industries in the 30's was not a jolly.

soubriquet said...

Oh yes, many hated, and with reason, but it was an acid inside them that just kept the pain alive.
Plenty wished they could come face to face with, and have a reckoning with some of their old guards.

Adullamite said...

Soub, Aye indeed, pity few did.

Lee said...

More people today should listen to/and watch Hancock. More people today should do away with political-correct nonsense!

Adullamite said...

Lee, Indeed!

Jenny Woolf said...

An interesting story. Is that your dad? That is a fine uniform. I definitely agree that adversity can build bonds. And when I was a kid I met an old man who told me world war 1 was the best time of his life. I think you are quite right about Hancock, too.

Adullamite said...

Jenny, Indeed that is he showing of his pride! The type of foto all soldiers desire.
When you agree with me I suddenly realise what a bright lass you are!