My favourite books 20: The St Trinian’s Story

Perpetua, 1959.  This edition Penguin, 1961.

Keeping the Penguin classic humour thing going here…  St Trinian’s today means either badly aged movies from days of yore, or truly awful movies from today.  In the 1950s, Searle and St Trinian’s hit the cultural high-spots – this anthology includes contributions from C Day Lewis, Robert Graves, Bertolt Brecht and Flanders & Swann.  And the cartoons are still brilliant.

My favourite books 17: England, Half English

England, Half English:  Colin MacInnes

MacGibbon & Kee, 1961; this edition Penguin, 1966

Another collection of contemporary musings on early youth culture.  MacInnes was more complicated than the whole Paul Weller/Julien Temple/David Bowie nostalgia schtick of the mid-80s; this book is a series of essays about London’s new immigrant communities, youth culture and (delightfully) the Daily Express Cartoon Families.  And yes, the cover drawing is by Peter Blake.


My favourite books 13: Austerity Binge

Austerity Binge by Bevis Hillier

Studio Vista, 1975

Decorative arts, 1945-51 – feeling our way towards the 50s, through a curious blend of nostalgia, modernism and kitsch – this was one of the first assessments of the applied arts from that period.  Comedian Stuart Lee stole the title for his recent stand-up festival on the South Bank.

My favourite books 10: Age Of Austerity

Age of Austerity, 1945-1951.  Edited by Michael Sissons and Philip French.

Hodder & Stoughton, 1963; this edition Penguin, 1964.

An early entry into the ground now tilled so effectively by David Kynaston and others.  On the sixtieth anniversary of the Festival of Britain, a look back to the time when we never had it so bad.