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.