I am guest blogging over at my friends and
highly talented writers, Tom Lynham and Tim Rich. Although why they have let a visually driven, dyslexic,
reprobate like me dabble with their blog I’ll never know.
Anyway do drop by to see my efforts and read
their splendid work here.
Most people think of
‘branding’ as a relatively recent phenomenon. But during the Second World War, the
Board of Trade introduced a rationing scheme called ‘Limitation of Supplies
(Cloth and Apparel) Order 1941’. All items of clothing under this order were
manufactured to specific standards and labelled with this mark:
It stood for ‘Civilian
Clothing 1941’. Reginald Shipp, who worked at label makers Hargreaves, designed
the logo. It quickly became known as ‘the cheeses’ for obvious reasons.
The CC41 logo was displayed in every Utility clothing item
Designs were commissioned
from the pretty swish fashion designers of the day, including Hardy Amies,
Norman Hartnell and other members of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion
Designers. Here are some examples of what they dreamed up:
At the end of the war Utility 'Demob' suits were provided free to every ex service man.
In 1942, the scheme embraced
furniture, and the Utility Furniture Advisory Committee was set up, which consisted
of Royal Designer Gordon Russell along with Ernest Clench, Herman Lebus and
John Gloag. Between them, they oversaw the designs. Here are some pages from
the official catalogue from which you could purchase furniture under the country-wide
rationing coupon scheme:
Much of the furniture was inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement
There were just 20 designs of
plain, functional, solidly constructed domestic furniture. As a kid, I remember
our Utility wardrobe as a rather forbidding dark object sitting in the corner
of the bedroom.
The Utility scheme was wound
up in 1948, but furniture continued to be manufactured until 1952, during the
lean post-war years. Much of it can be found in second-hand shops and still in
some homes: check with granny. It is easy to identify as it displayed the
distinctive CC41 mark literally branded into the wood:
Above one of the many government publications to encourage the population to be thrifty
Also a hang-over from the war
years, ‘make do and mend’ still permeated the nation throughout the 1950s.
People recycled, repaired, reinvented and saved items of scarcity.
returned from my local dump, I am reminded what a wasteful society we are and
how we could learn from our past in this new age of austerity.
To see some truly hilarious films about Utility dress making click here.
I like cooking, so can
often be found dipping into some of the many cookery programmes on television,
like those by Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I’ve
even become a little obsessed with The
Great British Bake Off.
But there is one
programme that drives me nuts: Nigellissima.
No, it’s not her endless flirtatious manner or the over-glossed lips, tousled hair,
figure-hugging girdle, those dresses or the suggestive phrases, like ‘whip to
soft, creamy peaks’ and ‘slip in the golden linguine’.
No, it’s none of those.
It is the utter insensitivity of the programme in this age of austerity. I am
sitting there watching Nigella spout on about how important it is to have a ‘walk-in
larder, rather than a walk-in wardrobe’. Her larder was lined with enough
Italian food to open a high street deli.
And her fridges were filled with food
items for those ‘unexpected guests’ – ‘I always have smoked mackerel in the
fridge for emergencies’. And the mass of kitchen equipment – no doubt product
placement – the very prominent KitchenAid
Artisan food mixer will set you back a cool £429. I’ll have two, please.
And we are supposed to
believe that we are in Nigella’s kitchen. With those out-of-focus fairy lights,
ridiculous bank of cookery books, impromptu meals, laughing children and the ‘unexpected
guest who has just dropped by’, I don’t believe one bit of it.
The kitchen is a
studio-based set, all as phony as Nigella’s silk dressing gown-clad midnight
feasts featured in the last series.
The programme is as
obscene as all those many smug people on Grand
Designs flaunting their building overspends, who still manage to deck out
their new builds with the very latest Bulthaup kitchens.
I can’t help but think of the many people
struggling to live on a low wage and who have to put up with watching Nigellissima dressed up to the nines, cooking
in that ridiculously overly equipped kitchen with its wall high fridges and
multi cookers while she spouts on about her wonderful holidays in Tuscany.
Meanwhile, so many ordinary mere mortals have
to struggle in a cramped kitchen space surrounded by kids. No walk in larder or
wardrobe for them, nor holidays in Tuscany or a rambling house in Belgravia. I’m sure Slater, Oliver and
Whittingstall also have it all, but they just don’t flaunt it. Indeed, they all
have one thing which Nigella doesn’t, and that’s believability.
Nigella slumming it whilst strolling down the gold paved streets of Notting Hill, as far East as she dare go.
Very nice of him, even though I don’t drink whiskey. I’ll store it for medicinal purposes. But it also came in this...
A substantial metal container. I was astonished by the sheer waste of resources, because this tinny thing will be discarded immediately – who would want the hassle of extracting the bottle from a metal tube every time you wanted a wee dram? I wonder how much additional cost this added to this little beverage? It seems crazy that most of these Scottish distilleries dress up their premium malts in this over the top way.
And the one above pales when compared to some of the wooden boxed, velvet covered, embossed metal tagged efforts, all immediately jettisoned in to the recycled bin.
It is utter madness. Graphic designers have to decorate this kind of stuff. What a waste.