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A little something saucy from the seaside

For years and years, the tradition here was to send home a saucy postcard from your seaside holiday. Which is where everybody went for their holidays, always. And the undisputed king of the saucy postcard was a man named Donald McGill (link goes to a Google Images search; click for an amusing hour of postcard browsing).

He was born in 1875 and was a draughtsman in the Navy when he drew a little get well card for a sick nephew in 1904 and kinfolk said, “Jed, move away from there.”

Fat ladies, drunks, vicars, honeymooning couples, wartime propaganda…he poured out tons of the damn things. The ruder they were the better they sold, though he only got pennies for each design.

He is author of the famous joke “Do you like Kipling?” / “I don’t know, you naughty boy, I’ve never kippled!” which sold a record-holding six million copies.

He went on merrily until the Fifties, when the authorities decided to clean up all this disgusting smut and conducted a series of raids on seaside postcard shops. Some of the naughty designs had been on sale for decades without apparently causing riots. They confiscated thousands, mostly McGill’s, and took him to court.

He admitted breaking the Obscene Publications Act, but his defense was, “holy shit! REALLY? NAUGHTY DOUBLE MEANINGS? ZOMG, I had no idea until you pointed it out. Boy, is my face red!” Also, he was pushing eighty. So he pretty much got off, except for the lost revenue.

You still see McGill’s designs on cards and packaging (I saw a box of candy with a McGill wrapper the other day, which resulted in this post). Some say the vacation postcard is making a comeback, but I think the Royal Mail should be so lucky.

So. There. Something fun for the weekend. Have a good one!


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 3, 2012, 10:41 pm

I almost picked a different postcard for the illustration, on the theory that a joke is ruined if you have to explain it, but it was just too perfect an example of the type. Rock is a kind of hard candy sold at the seaside, baton-shaped with the name of the town running through it from end to end. The most famous is Brighton rock, but he’s deliberately garbled the name so it could be from anywhere. I saw a film of rock being made, which was riveting. I’ll have to see if I can find it for you.

Okay, I have no idea why you’d call somebody “cock.”

Comment from AliceH
Time: August 3, 2012, 11:01 pm

“Cock”, short for “Cock Robin”, evoking young, strutting self-important chest-puffed-out lad, I imagine.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 3, 2012, 11:24 pm

Thank you, Alice.

One of these days, I’m going to have a terrible accident when my sweet little gray-haird mother-in-law exclaims, “blow me!”

Which she does, lots. Short for “blow me down.”

Comment from AliceH
Time: August 4, 2012, 12:19 am

Heh. My former father-in-law was a man of few words and many bottles of Teacher’s, but would periodically blurt out “Brr, but baby it’s cold outside” or, when he felt put upon, “I’m only lickle”. Not accident-inducing stuff, but still – lickle? (meaning “little”. Obviously.) Never did find out if that was a standard or common Lancastrian pronunciation, or just George being George.

He was very proud of a picture of him dancing at some servicemen’s club with Betty Grable when he was in the war. He: red sweaty face beaming in a drunken stupor, looking not unlike Mickey Rooney with bad teeth; Betty: a foot taller than him, smiling professionally for the camera. Best part – he swears that just as the picture was taken Betty was hissing through her teeth “You’re standing on my fucking foot!”

Comment from AliceH
Time: August 4, 2012, 1:56 am

It’s like a ghost town in here.

Maybe this video of alternative Olympics coverage will shake some things loose: WSJ The Daily Fix

The blurb:

You’ve seen (and heard) the way U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents watch their daughter compete. But only on the latest Homemade Highlights can you see (and hear) Raisman’s parents when their faces are attached to clothespins.

Homemade Highlights, if you’ve somehow forgotten, is the Journal’s way of televising Olympic events before NBC airs them in primetime. Except we use puppets, not people.

On the latest edition: Gabby Douglas vaults her way to gymnastics gold, Raisman sticks her “Hava Nagila” routine and Aliya Mustafina falls off the breadstick beam. Plus, a live look as Michael Phelps’s mother watches him chase a world record. It’s fun for the whole family.

Yes. I found the exception to the “I hate puppets” rule. Now go watch it.

Comment from JC
Time: August 4, 2012, 2:50 am

You ever read George Orwell’s essay on The Art Of Donald McGill? A good one.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 4, 2012, 10:28 am

Oh, Alice…finally, the Olympics are watchable!

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: August 4, 2012, 3:21 pm

Postcards are pretty fun to send and get, every time I go on vacation somewhere I try to send a few. People always like getting real mail, we’re just so lazy we don’t like taking the trouble and expense to send it.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: August 4, 2012, 5:17 pm

It’s not salacious, but I was charmed by these a few years back: http://www.crummy.com/writing/postcards/

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: August 4, 2012, 5:29 pm

Also, maybe y’all Brits just spell “Caulk” dif’rently.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 4, 2012, 11:08 pm

I like the way McGill has left a little bit of wrapper at the bottom, suggesting dropped underpants. Genius.

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 5, 2012, 1:03 am

Just a quick question …

Does US air carriers carrying US mil personnel make them a legitimate military target in international airspace?

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 5, 2012, 1:41 am

Oceania, from my limited research, generally speaking, civilians who link themselves to a legitimate military target such as a group of troops would be considered, place themselves at risk. Assuming a declaration of war, the best that might be argued is that the value of the military target should outweigh the potential damage to civilian life, but that is not absolute.

Having said that: What the fuck does that have to do with saucy postcards?

Why are you here again? We don’t mind your contributions when they’re vicious or ugly, but when they’re pointless it gets annoying, OK?

DO try to focus, will you? Thanks.

Now: here in Texas, we don’t seem to have a much of a saucy postcard tradition that I can find, but we do have a tradition of “Boastcards” which brag about Texas, saying things like “Alaska ain’t bigger than Texas after the ice melts”…. and of couse, our famous Jackalope postcards.

Comment from Nieta de Bob
Time: August 5, 2012, 1:19 pm

Now that we’re living in Filey we’ll have to see if we can’t find any saucy postcards… although we did find some FIley rock. Mom bought some and took it back to the states with her.

And, of course, it’s 89p to send a postcard from the UK to the states.

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 5, 2012, 11:36 pm

Texas? Texas? Steers and Queers!
Topic? Get your Lusitania postcards here …

Comment from little, little
Time: August 6, 2012, 5:43 pm

The more you look at this scene, the more you see. For instance the woman to the left leaning back with her legs spread and head thrown back (in a swoon?) as the waves lick the shore. And what about that woman to the right? What is she sitting on? Looks like a coupla testicles and the bottom of a shaft. Maybe I’m stretching.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: August 11, 2012, 10:48 pm

I’m busy this afternoon going through the last couple of weeks of Stoaty, and come across this, which made me laugh, because I brought some Filey rock home with me last week. I even posted about it on facebook a few days ago. Great minds and all that.


Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: August 11, 2012, 11:00 pm

I’m busy this afternoon going through the last couple of weeks of Stoaty, and come across this, which made me laugh, because I brought some Filey rock home with me last week. I even posted about it on facebook a few days ago. Great minds and all that. Oh, and I sent a lot of post cards home, enriching the Royal Mail by 78 or pence each. I spent way too much on postcards, but none was this good, just mundane stuff like Beverly Minster, Stonehenge, Jorvik scratch-n-sniff, etc.


Pingback from British Humo(u)r – maybe NSFG* | This dissertation is going to be fun, like dessert
Time: October 2, 2013, 5:39 pm

[…] (Google image search for “alaska bigger than texas postcard”) when I came across this amazing blog post about one Donald McGill (artist of the four images in this […]

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