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Tuesday, 25 October 2011


Winter is fast approaching and locally the weather has taken a turn for the worse with a strong gale from the SE battering the coastline. The vital lifeline ferry link between Shetland and the Scottish mainland is ploughing her slow passage down the NE Coast having left the Islands at 5.30pm last night, Onboard are 95 hardy souls whose original intentions were to arrive in Aberdeen this morning at 7am, but with this Harbour now closed due to the weather they are heading for Rosyth on the Firth of Forth with an estimated arrival time of late tonight.

After some 30 hours or so at sea, many will feel it will have been the worst sea journey they have ever experienced. Having said that, being more of a sailor than an airman myself, given the choice in a flying gale, I would still opt to be tossed around the ocean for hours than be flipped about inside a cigar tube thousands of feet in the air, while strapped into a space no bigger than a cupboard. Doubtless there are many who would rather do neither. Bert Thomas (1883-1966) cartoon probably captures the spirit of sea travel in winter which hasn't changed a lot in a hundred years.

Transcription below:

GARRULOUS PASSENGER: "Oh, Captain, I've crossed the Atlantic dozens of times in all kinds of weather and never remember feeling so ill. I wonder what's the cause ?"
CAPTAIN: "Bad memory."

Friday, 12 August 2011


This is one of the busiest days in the shooting season, with large amounts of game being shot. The date itself  being the traditional start of the shooting season for Red Grouse is enshrined in legislation through the Game Act of 1831. Since UK Law says that the start of the season cannot begin on a Sunday it has sometimes been postponed to the 13th August. Whatever day it starts on not all Red Grouse are in danger though, as shown here by George D Armour (1864-1949) cartoon where a serious lack of skill on the part of the shooting party has in fact resulted in very few actual birds having been shot.

Transcript below:

PROPRIETOR OF SHOOTING: (inspecting game-book after being away) "The boys didn't get many birds, but you've entered 'various' too often. I like everything put down."

SCOTCH KEEPER: "I couldna' juist dae that. Ye see there was a gillie and twa dogs, no' to mention some sheep and Sandy's auld coo."

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Now that we are well through what is called ‘Summer', the daily delivery of postal mail has a number of holiday postcards arriving from far and distant places, showing beautiful sunny scenes and gorgeous views of exotic locations around the world. While grateful that friends and family are having a lovely time enjoying the summer sun, we in turn appear to be languishing back home in a never ending spell of cold, wet and misty days.

The bright summery spell we all enjoyed back in April, May and parts of June have long since disappeared into the memory banks, and in turn we mope about muttering and complaining of the weather. Amidst this plops yet another card through the letterbox with comments about hot, sunny days and the time spent enjoying all that these holiday resorts have to offer. Hamilton Williams (circa 1920) cartoon shown below typifies our summer weather at the moment, and highlights the old rural Post Office pastime of reading the postcards arriving from all over the world prior to delivery.

Transcript below:

HIGHLAND POSTMASTER: (to party sheltering from the rain). "Wull ye no come in oot o' the rain, yer Leddyship, an' I'll gie ye a wheen postcairds to read to while awa' the time? There's some gay queer anes by the last post!"

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


This week sees The International Island Games being held in the Isle of Wight and were founded in the Isle of Man in 1985 and today include 25 member islands in, or associated with, the nine sovereign nations of Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK, plus the Caribbean. They stretch across the globe including the Falkland Islands, Greenland, St Helena, Bermuda and the Shetland Islands among 20 others.

There are approximately 4000 participants competing in 14 different sports over the 7 days. Of all the sports being contested Shetland has become one of the top medal winners in the swimming with 5 Gold Medals, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze. Four of the Gold Medals being won by Andrea Strachan with her team-mate Amy Harper picking up 1 Gold, 2 Silver and 2 Bronze, and young Felix Gifford collecting the final Bronze Medal. 

This amazing performance from such a small island will no doubt result in a flood of hopeful people of all ages trying to match these young swimmers valiant efforts. Bert Thomas (1883-1966) cartoon shows the helpful encouragement given to those just starting out in the sport by the poolside instructors.
Transcript below:

INSTRUCTOR: "That's better, Sir; you ain't swallerin' so much water -
doing more to the gallon, so to speak."

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


After an absence of some 3 months, while I have been sourcing some more ‘new’ old cartoons to share with you all, I thought that this being the longest day it would be a good time to re-start the blog. Today is the first day of summer according to that fountain of all knowledge – Google – and so with that in mind I have chosen a holiday related cartoon from George Belcher (1875-1947) It’s good to see that while summer visitors get a lot out of their holiday and return refreshed and invigorated by their stay, they in turn also leave a lasting legacy with their hosts!

On another note, I would just like to thank the authors of the following blogs for listing "CARTOONS OF OLD" among those that they follow regularly:  Desperate ReaderShetland My Love, and Auld-Rasmie . Thanks to them the number of ‘visits’ have increased dramatically over the last few weeks especially, and if you are one of the new readers, welcome, and I hope you enjoy these old cartoons and have a laugh at them with us all.

Transcript below:

VISITOR TO VERY QUIET SEASIDE PLACE: "And what ever do you people do with yourselves in the winter ?"
LANDLADY: "Oh, we talks and laughs about the people what stays 'ere in the summer."

Monday, 28 March 2011


This past week has seen a series of events, all of which could lend themselves to an old cartoon. The start of the Easter School Holidays, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the Hong Kong Sevens Rugby, and the advent of British Summer Time and the annual battle with all the various digital time keeping devices programmed into every piece of equipment nowadays. The final of Dancing On Ice and the start of the Formula One World Championship. Out of all these I plumped for a Motoring Cartoon from the early 1920’s by George D Armour (1864-1949), showing the dangers that driving at speed can bring.

Transcript below:

MRS O'BRIEN: (who has been instructed that she must on no account speak to the chaffeur when driving). "Chaffeur! chaffeur! I must spake! Mrs Rafferty hasn't been on the back sate of the kyar fur the last ten minnuts!"

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Friday 18th March 2011 was ‘Red Nose Day’, being the biennial telethon highlight of the charity Comic Relief. Originally it was set up in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and the comedian Lenny Henry in response to the famine in Ethiopia, and whose stated aim is to “bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people, which we believe requires investing in work that addresses people's immediate needs as well as tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice”. http://www.comicrelief.com/about-us

One of the fundamental principles of the charity is where every single donated pound (£) is spent on charitable projects. All the operating costs, such as staff salaries etc., are covered by corporate sponsors, or by the interest earned on the money donated, while it is waiting to be distributed. Since it’s inception in the 1980’s over £650 Million has been raised. Each year the style of the ‘Red Noses’ change and in 2011, for the first time, there were three different types available. Charles Grave (1886-1944) cartoon below draws attention to another form of Red Nose.

Transcript below:

LONG-SUFFERING VICAR: (to teller of plausible tale). "I'd no idea that the lack of the train-fare to Leighton Buzzard could have such an extraordinary effect upon the nose."

Monday, 14 March 2011


The Annual Crufts Dog Show has just announced the winner of the Best in Show from a total of 21,000 other dogs. This annual competition organised by the Kennel Club, began in 1891 and celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. The Best in Show prize has been awarded for the past 83 years, during which time 41 different breeds have won the title. This year a black flat coated retriever called ‘The Kentuckian’ was declared Best in Show, and a Basset Griffon Vendeen resplendent in the name ‘Soletrader Peek A Boo’ was Reserve Best in Show. The names folk give their dogs are often weird and wonderful, though pedigree breeds often have to have these grandiose names to show their lineage. Thankfully the Best in Show retriever is just called ‘Jet’ when he’s home in South Queensferry, Scotland. George S Dixon (b. 1890) cartoon highlights the often very British obsession with dogs being virtually human in many owners eyes.

Transcript below:

OLD LADY: "Now, before you give him his food I want you to say, 'Diddums Dinkie want oos dindins?' And if he yawns he's not quite ready."

Sunday, 6 March 2011


World Book Day this week was an ‘event’ designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading for the enjoyment of all. Children especially are encouraged to explore the pleasures of books and reading, and so build up a love of words. Writing narratives in any novel often relies on the use of slang to add an air of authenticity to the story, depending on the characters and where they are placed in society. Frank Reynolds (1876-1953) cartoon highlights the pitfalls of the use of slang in everyday life!

Transcript below:

MISTRESS TO NEW MAID: "Mary, you haven't half dusted the drawing-room."
MARY: (highly gratified). "Ah, not 'alf I 'aven't."

Sunday, 27 February 2011


With the Sea Trout season opening on the 25th February and the Brown Trout Season on the 15th March, thoughts of anglers the length and breadth of the country are turning to their annual battle with the wily fish. Many an ardent fisherman has tales to tell of the ones that got away, and in the Highlands of Scotland, gillies are looking to a new season of guiding, cajoling and informing many a newcomer into the ‘tricks of the trade’. George D Armour (1864-1949) cartoon shows that even the tactics of an expert can sometimes be proved wrong.

Transcript below:

SELF SATISFIED TYRO: (who in spite of disregrading expert advice has caught a "fish")   "I was a bit too cunning for that one, Duncan."
DUNCAN: (gloomily extracting the fly) "Ay, there's daft idjits in the watter as weel's oot o' it."

Saturday, 19 February 2011


Today sees the start of the 2011 Cricket World Cup, which will be the tenth CWC, and this year it is hosted by the three South Asian Test Cricket playing countries: India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Cricket has never really been a Northern Hemisphere sport even though its origins emanate from England.

Cricket arrived in other parts of the globe during the early 18th century and was introduced to the West Indies by colonists and to India by British East India Company mariners in the first half of that century. It arrived in Australia almost as soon as colonization began in 1788, and New Zealand and South Africa followed in the early years of the 19th century.

Scotland though is hardly a cricketing nation and certainly the farther North you go, the less popular it is. However, throughout the counties of England it is still played regularly by many, and every game has the same passion and fervour of a World Cup match. Frank Reynolds (1876-1953) cartoon depicts a village game where this passion is ably demonstrated.

Transcript below:

LOCAL FISHMONGER: (as exasperating batsman is at last disposed of). " 'E's filleted !"

Saturday, 12 February 2011


St. Valentine according to ancient history was an early Christian martyr, executed on February 14th and established as a Saint by Pope Gelasius in 500AD. This was deleted from the Roman Calendar of Saints in 1969, but it has traditionally been a day when lovers expressed their affection for one another. Since the 19th century hand-written Valentine Cards have given way to mass produced greetings cards. By the second half of the 20th century all manner of gifts were being exchanged and now this practice has extended to the internet where an estimated 15 Million e-Valentines were sent in 2010.

Whatever the thoughts behind the commercialism of Valentines Day, it has traditionally been one of romance and courtship, and this is highlighted by Leo Cheney’s (1878-1928) excellent cartoon from the early 1920’s.

Transcript below:

MURIEL: "Before I consent to marry you, Archie, I must ask you one thing.
Do you ---- er ---- drink anything ?"
ARCHIE: (proudly). "Anything."

Sunday, 6 February 2011


During a week when BT Broadband crawled to a standstill yet again and gales and heavy salt deposits played havoc with the main power supplies, the realisation of how much the modern world now relies on the internet technology for ‘instant’ communication was more than evident. Back in the 1920’s the wireless as it was known was only becoming a feature of life. The British Broadcasting Company began radio services in 1922, becoming the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1926, and gained control of the airwaves.

No other broadcasting organisation was actually licensed till 1973, but foreign commercial radio stations broadcast programmes in English up until World War 2, when they were all virtually silenced bar Radio Luxembourg which continued transmitting American style entertainment. In 1964 the first of around 10 offshore Pirate Radio Stations began transmitting until finally silenced by the Marine Offences Act of 1967.

The BBC attempted to win back the millions of listeners who had tuned into these ‘pirate’ radio stations by introducing Radio One. The DJ’s Tony Blackburn and the late John Peel were hired by the BBC to continue their style of broadcasting made famous by stations like Radio Caroline's 'Morning Show' and Radio London's ‘The Perfumed Garden’.

Bert Thomas (1883-1966) cartoon highlights the influence the new ‘wireless’ had on the population of the 1920’s as prominent people of the age were suddenly thrust into the homes of unsuspecting listeners.

Transcript below:

OLD LADY: (as a certain politician's name is announced on wireless). "Shut
that off! I won't have that man in my house."

Friday, 28 January 2011


This week sees the annual celebration of Australia Day on 26th January, commemorating the arrival at Port Jackson, Sydney Cove of the ‘First Fleet’ in 1788, and the proclamation of British Sovereignty. Though the actual date of the formation of the colony in New South Wales did not take place until February the 26th of January has been recognised as the national day since 1808. All Australian states had finally recognised this date as Australia Day by 1935.

During The Great War, or World War 1 as it became known, over 330,000 Australian nationals served overseas in the conflict, with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs). The most well known place was Gallipoli, the Turkish peninsula where many ANZACs fell on that fateful day in 1915. Australian troops also fought in the Middle East, the Western Front, Belgium, France, and other European nations. As a result troops from the AIF and ANZACs were occasionally to be seen on the streets of London, and George Belcher (1875-1947) cartoon highlights the problem some had in identifying these soldiers.

Transcript below:

FIRST LADY: "That's one of them Australian soldiers."
SECOND LADY: "How do you know?"
FIRST LADY: "Why, can't you see the kangaroo feathers in his hat?"

Saturday, 22 January 2011


This weeks cartoon has a very tenuous link to events due to take place on the 25 January this year. Apart from the largest Fire Festival in Europe it also happens to be Burns Night, a celebration of the life and poetry of the Scots poet Robert Burns, born on the 25th January 1759.

The cartoon displayed below by Lancelot Speed (186o-1931) is set in Scotland during the deer stalking season, and there lies the tenuous link – Robert Burns's poem “My Heart’s in the Highlands” which includes the verse:

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.

It also made me laugh, which of course is the main reason for including it.

Transcript below:

NEW SPORTSMAN: (who imagines himself to be invisible to the quarry). "They can't see us, can they ?"
STALKER: "I'm thinkin' they'll be awa'. There's naethin scares them sae much as an ostrich."

Friday, 14 January 2011


Today in Shetland sees the start of the annual Up Helly Aa season, with the Scalloway Fire Festival getting underway tonight. Scalloway is the first of 10 Fire Festivals celebrated throughout the Isles, from mid-January through to the end of March. The main Up Helly Aa held in Lerwick on the last Tuesday in January is the largest Fire Festival in Europe and the most well known of them all.

The Lerwick Festival is also the oldest dating back to the late 1800's, and evolved from traditional torch-lit processions around the town at Christmas and New Year. The Viking element of the Festival emerged later and has now become a prominent feature of all the Fire Festivals. The Viking costumes are all made by the participants themselves and a very closely guarded secret. Speculation is rife throughout the Isles as each Up Helly Aa Day dawns as to whether the Jarl Squad, as it is known, will be sporting helmets with horns, wings, or what has now become quite common and more authentic, neither of them.

Leonard Raven-Hill (1867-1942) cartoon shows the problem sometimes encountered when trying to procure horns.

Transcript below:

CURIO DEALER: "There's a nice pair o' horns, on'y a couple of pounds."
CALEDONIAN: "They're awfu' dear."
DEALER: "Of course they're orf a deer. Wot d'yer 'spose they're orf! A rabbit?"

Friday, 7 January 2011


The January Sales have started, and there are a myriad of offers on display, with the shopper being enticed to buy with the reward of large discounts or an additional item thrown in for free. With the rate of  VAT now at 20% it is in the interest of every shopper to seek out the best deal. Bertram Prance (1889-1958) cartoon from around 1920 shows what wonderful gifts were being given away with every purchase. For the record £2 in 1920 is worth about £40 in today's money.

Transcript below:

WIFE (emerging delightedly from shop). "Look what they gave me for spending
           two pounds!"

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