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Wednesday, 29 September 2010


This week the announcement that Scottish Opera will perform Carmen in the Orkney Arts Centre, Kirkwall highlights an extensive touring calendar which will take the Company the length and breadth of Scotland. Beautiful gypsies, bullfighting, obsession and some of the liveliest rhythms in opera, this new production is set in 1960’s Spain. Leading operatic celebrities have enchanted audiences with the likes of Bizet’s rousing “Toreador’s Song” for years. James H Thorpe’s cartoon depicts such a celebrity in a moment of crisis.

Transcript below:

OPERATIC CELEBRITY: "I tell your fool reporter I haf been starring for six months in Nooyork."
SUB-EDITOR: "Quite so."
OPERATIC CELEBRITY: "Well, the idiot he say 'starving.' "

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


This week recognises the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and of the 182 Victoria Crosses awarded to servicemen in the 2nd World War only one Fighter Pilot received this highest award for gallantry. Flt. Lieut James Nicolson, aged 23 at the time was awarded the VC for ‘Exceptional Gallantry’ during combat duty in August 1940. During the 1st World War 634 Victoria Crosses were awarded to the British & Commonwealth forces, and to date there have been 158 Scottish recipients. This cartoon by A Wallis Mills (1878-1940) highlights the possible reason why the Scottish Regiments are so feared during battle.

Transcript below:

VISITOR: "How delighted you must have been when you heard your son had won the V.C.!"
SCOTCH WIFE: "O ay! I was pleased enough, but I wasna surprised. He stood up to me once!"

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


With the recent ‘Whalers Reunion’ having taken place in Shetland, the links between the islands and the sea were once again highlighted. The Whaling industry in the Southern Atlantic was a dangerous occupation starting in the early 1900’s and a lot of men left Shetland to take part in this right up until it ceased around 1963. Seafaring was the life of many a local man, and this cartoon by Charles Grave (1886-1944) maybe echoes a scene remembered by those in the Merchant Navy.

Transcript below:

"This is a ruddy fine game 'olystonin' the decks at one o'clock in the mornin'."

"You ain't got the right way of lookin' at it. I gets a lot of 'appiness by bangin'
about an' keepin' passengers awake what's paid a 'undred quid for the outin'."

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


This week in 1940 during World War II the Blitz began, when 348 German bombers strafed London in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing. While the Great War (1914-1918) as it was known then, had relatively few air raids in comparison, there was still the threat of an attack from the air by the Zeppelin airships and later the Gotha aeroplane. George Belcher (1875-1947) cartoon of the period highlights the public concerns over these early attacks.

Transcript below:

STOUT LADY: (discussing the best thing to do in an air-raid). "Well, I always runs about meself. You see, as my 'usband sez, an' very reasonable too, a movin' targit is more difficult to 'it."

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


As Shetland’s annual Film Festival ‘Screenplay’ gets underway this week together with the Book Festival ‘Wordplay’ following on closely behind, I thought we would look at how the cartoons of around 100 years ago depicted The Arts and Theatricals. The advent of sound in films was really only introduced in the mid 1920’s but by 1930 Hollywood was almost all ‘talkies’. The world of the celebrity was just about to begin as illustrated in this A. Wallis Mills (1878-1940) cartoon.

Transcript below:

FRIEND: (to Film Star), "Say, there's a bunch of guys outside waiting to be presented to you. Among 'em is a bishop, who says he married you some time since."
FILM STAR: "Gee! I'm practically certain I never married a bishop."
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