Apr 6 2012: Eight Monochrome Photographs Showing British Parades (1940s – 1950s)

I’m not sure if these images show scenes from one or more parades and occasions, though it’s clear that the photographs fall into three basic groups, the first showing a quasi military parade (possibly made up of amateur rather than real troops), the second a series of floats trying to raise money for charity, and the third a couple of students addressing a crowd in the manner of politicians on the stump. Even if, as seems likely, they’re from different times and places, there’s a unifying sense of a country on the cusp between war and post-war eras, perhaps still in austerity, but no longer fighting? The sense of community that seems to be demonstrated, however, might well be deceptive. While I can imagine a David Cameron looking to images like these for evidence of a lost ‘big society’ golden age, those students might as easily be parodying as emulating political leaders, those marching soldiers making fun of the military as easily as paying tribute to it. It’s not clear what’s going on here, and the era in which the pictures were taken was undoubtedly one of transition, not quite yet the fully fledged Welfare State the notion of a ‘big society’ has been devised to speed to its grave, but not, either, the entirely deferent mirage of a mythic earlier era to which the architects of today’s ogliarchic taxpayer-financed ‘free markets’ would like us all to aspire.

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