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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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