Friday, 31 January 2014

People You See: The Shop Sign Men

Here's a super one-page spread from 'Teddy Bear'. Back in 1969 the comic declared itself to be "the best Picture Paper for Young Children". Young readers got 16 colour and black and white pages for 7d - with a nice regular full page series called 'People you See'. These were rather trad Ladybird Book-like depictions of people at work - like these Shop Fitters fixing a new sign to Brown the bakers in a high street somewhere near you 45 years ago...

Can you say what is happening in the Picture?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Do You Know

What Causes Fog?

My parents always drank Brooke Bond (PG Tips) tea - and I still do. However my maternal grandparents only kept the Ty.Phoo brand in the cupboard above the fridge. Back in the late 1960s, I used to clamber up their little step-ladder to grab the packets of tea, and attempt to cut-out the black and white photo of a football star which was often printed on one of the side panels.

I was swiftly re-united with those memories last year, when I bought a slim album of Ty.Phoo's 'Do You Know' cards in Spitalfields Market for a few quid. Dating from 1962, they're before my time, but what a delightful period piece. A series of 24 picture cards, each one answering a 'Do You Know' question on the reverse: What causes a Rainbow?, What is a Mirage?, How does a Fly walk Upside-Down? and so on...

When I got home and tried to find more about their history online, what was clear from the start was that they're actually almost worthless to collectors! But so what.

Card No.23 is just magnificent. A superbly evocative painting of London's Piccadilly Circus in the fog. A tiny masterpiece designed as a freebie for tea drinkers like my grandparents to hand over to their grandchildren. Interesting that by 1962 when this card was issued, those notorious pea-souper fogs were already recent history. The introduction of the Clean Air Act of 1956 had banned the use of coal for domestic fires, which drastically reduced the sulfurous thick smog that once hung over London.

Ty.Phoo's foggy London squeezed into just 3.7 cms x 6.8 cms

Ty.Phoo was a product of  Edwardian Britain, and the word means 'doctor' in Chinese 

Now this is a FAB publicity shot for the brand c.1967. I never knew drinking a Cuppa T  could be such fun! Maybe that was when my grandparents became Ty.Phoo devo-teas...

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

London Bus Tickets 1970s

For you Londoners who have deeply embedded memories of the clicks and twists of a Routemaster Bus Conductor turning the knobs and handles of their Gibson ticket machines - this first posting of 2014 is especially for you! Of course everyone is invited to the party - and enjoy viewing some of the very same thin paper tickets that were handed to me some 40 years ago...

Below is a 3 Pence ticket. The vogue back then was a Blackjack/Pontoon-like competition, where we'd compare tickets with other school pals and passengers. Here's a 21 winning ticket scored on a 260 Bus:

ORD Class - must have been my Mum's ticket

Back in the mid-70s, the cost of a spiraling inflation hit the schoolkids pockets, and my 3p ticket soon became 4p, and then 5p. A score of 21 was not the only winning bus ticket. Others were cool-looking sequences of numbers - like four of the same:

C Class stood for Child Single fare

Four 2's on a 26 Bus 

All the eights
I must have been over-child's age when I got this ticket which was produced by an alpha-coded Gibson machine. Fare charts were displayed in buses as the machine printed a letter rather than a number in the FARE PAID section. Rising ticket prices meant that instead of a combination of multiple tickets being issued to cover a single fare, or price bands needing constant changing, just a single letter would do the trick.

A chart dated February 1980. Fares went from A to P

Amazing to think that nowadays kids go free on London Buses, and that just one flat fare covers any length of journey. Back then, you were kicked off the bus if the conductor had spotted that you'd extended your journey without paying the correct fare!