Dating readers romances

You never walk far through any poor quarter in any big town without coming upon a small newsagent's shop.

The general appearance of these shops is always very much the same: a few posters for the Daily Mail and the News of the World outside, a poky little window with sweet-bottles and packets of Players, and a dark interior smelling of liquorice allsorts and festooned from floor to ceiling with vilely printed twopenny papers, most of them with lurid cover-illustrations in three colours.

Except for the daily and evening papers, the stock of these shops hardly overlaps at all with that of the big news-agents.

Their main selling line is the twopenny weekly, and the number and variety of these are almost unbelievable.

Every hobby and pastime — cage-birds, fretwork, carpentering, bees, carrier-pigeons, home conjuring, philately, chess — has at least one paper devoted to it, and generally several.

Probably the contents of these shops is the best available indication of what the mass of the English people really feels and thinks. Every few lines we are reminded that Harry Wharton & Co.Certainly nothing half so revealing exists in documentary form. are ‘the Famous Five’, Bunter is always ‘the fat Owl’ or ‘the Owl of the Remove’, Vernon-Smith is always ‘the Bounder of Greyfriars’, Gussy (the Honourable Arthur Augustus D'Arcy) is always ‘the swell of St Jim's’, and so on and so forth.Best-seller novels, for instance, tell one a great deal, but the novel is aimed almost exclusively at people above the £4-a-week level. There is a constant, untiring effort to keep the atmosphere intact and to make sure that every new reader learns immediately who is who.The movies are probably a very unsafe guide to popular taste, because the film industry is virtually a monopoly, which means that it is not obliged to study its public at all closely. ’, always given a line to itself, so that sometimes a quarter of a column or there-abouts consists of ‘Ha! The result has been to make Greyfriars and St Jim's into an extraordinary little world of their own, a world which cannot be taken seriously by anyone over fifteen, but which at any rate is not easily forgotten.The same applies to some extent to the daily papers, and most of all to the radio. Both of these extracts are entirely typical: you would find something like them in almost every chapter of every number, to-day or twenty-five years ago. ’ (stylized cries of pain) recur constantly, and so does ‘Ha! By a debasement of the Dickens technique a series of stereotyped ‘characters’ has been built up, in several cases very successfully.

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