callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

Laundry, Loneliness & Laxatives

When I was a child, my aunt took Woman’s Weekly, (mostly for the knitting), then passed it on to my mother. I would while away a wet afternoon in the holidays curled up with a heap of them, reading the advice given out by ‘Mrs Marryatt’ (later she called herself ‘Mary’) and my favourite, Looking at Life with The-man-who-sees. So I was pleased to pick up some ancient issues yesterday and renew my acquaintance with them. By the way, the model on the left in this photo is now better known as Mrs Michael Howard.

Looking through these mags two things struck me. Firstly, the similarity in tone to the old Girl’s Own Paper and secondly, the power of advertising. Keeping house, cooking and entertaining, making dainty home improvements, dressing fashionably but cheaply and making most of your own and your children’s clothes: 1956 could be 1906. Your problem would be isolation (young mother, pensioner) and The man-who-sees would be there with encouraging advice. On the left is his predecessor, The Friend Who Understands, looking disconcertingly like Dornford Yates.

Robert Opie is surely right about the power of brand names to bring back the past. When I worked in an ‘istoric hice I would sometimes be on Laundry duty, where the goffering irons and heated drying cupboard would be ignored as visitors exclaimed over bars of Monkey Brand soap. These sixties images of Omo, Daz, Camp coffee, Lavendo polish and ‘No More Tears’ Johnson’s baby shampoo are obviously imprinted for ever on my mind. Notable that in 1956 pain relief is required for ‘One of those days?’ but by 1962 it’s OK to ask, ‘Period Pains?’

Advertisers were fond of picture stories. Here Tessa finds income and confidence by becoming a Littlewood’s agent

and poor old granny hasn’t been getting the right kind of sleep but is put right by Horlicks.

Whiteness in the wash was something of an obsession: who remembers the guilt-inducing ‘Someone’s mother isn’t using Persil’?

This may seem quaint but should you spend an evening watching ITV3 and sit through the advertisements for DulcoEase, Vanish and Cillit Bang, you may wonder how much has changed.
Finally, an idea for supper:

Tags: advertising, dornford yates, homecraft, housekeeping, woman's weekly

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