Sweet-talkingĀ #sweets #spangles #retro #adverts #British #taste #tradition #RobertOpie #America

This photo shows the Magazine Advertisement for ‘Spangles’ – part of ‘The Robert Opie Occasion Series Collection of British Nostalgia and Advertising Memorabilia’ (bit of a mouthful). It celebrates the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the final lifting of sweet rationing in 1953.
Spangles were a brand of fruit-flavoured, translucent, boiled sweets of a rounded square shape with a circular imprint (sounds delicious) and made by Mars Ltd in the UK, from 1950 to 1984.

Their arrival on the confectionary scene came at a time of sweet rationing. Sweets were bought using tokens or points from a ration book. The humble Spangle required 1 point while other sweets and chocolate were 2 points. Naturally the popularity of Spangles soared, alongside smart and effective advertising – using American cowboy actor, William Boyd to front the eating-sweets-campaign.

At first the sweets were not individually wrapped, later they were covered in wax paper. Each packet held a traditional assortment: strawberry, pineapple, blackcurrant, orange etc to single varieties such as, Barley sugar, liquorice and tangerine. Grown-up English single varieties appeared too: mint humbug, pear-drop and aniseed. A mouthwatering delight to serve generations of sweet-lovers for over a 30 years.

Spangles are, as I write, the only sweet known to feature in a national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ of the United States of America. Of the course the two are unrelated, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner‘ poem was written in 1814, but America, like many other countries, does have a bit of a sugary-sweet problem. They sing about it all the time…

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Poem, Poem on the wall! #theMADmuseum

Thank you to the wonderfully creative and supportive people at The MAD (Mechanical Art and Design) museum in Stratford upon Avon who have framed my poem and screwed it tightly to the wall to greet happy visitors, locals, tourists and eccentrics from young to old.
This is a fascinating and ingenious museum – minutes from Shakespeare’s birthplace.
One town, many worlds!

New #Poetry Video Release on #YouTube

Please check out my new poetry video on YouTube

‘Sleep’ is read by actress Victoria Hamilton (Lark Rise to Candleford, Pride & Predjudice, BBC’s The Game). There is also a small stream of music, so find a quiet moment to listen and to dream…


‘I’m #nobody! Who are you?’

Poet Emily Dickinson (born in Massachusetts,1830) was unpublished in her lifetime. After her death in 1886 the family found, eventually, 1,775 poems; her first poetry book came, not withstanding family feuds, in 1890. She wrote short, with directness and exactness, and crucially a poetic code of dots, dashes and capitals. Today there are so many social media methods and new codes in which to access the world, and after reading her poem I don’t think she would have liked 21st century society at all:

‘I’m nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there’s a pair if us- don’t tell!

They’d banish us you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog

To tell your name the live long day

To an admiring bog!’

Nowadays most people live in a popular, whirling, social world, where everybody is somebody and nobody wishes to be ‘a nobody’.

We could easily update her last line with ‘To an admiring blog!’ 

Only in death and discovery has she become a great 19th century poet and therefore has filled every letter of the word ‘somebody’. 

I hope she’s just a little bit pleased.

“Kiss Me Hardy”

“Kiss Me Hardy” cried our great Admiral and naval hero, Lord Horatio Nelson, as he lay dying in the arms of his trusted Captain, Thomas Hardy; he was fatally struck down by a French musket ball at the Battle of Traflagar, 1805.

However there is another later famous Hardy I would like to discuss; the writer Thomas Hardy, born 2nd June 1840 (175yrs old today)! He was also a poet, only turning to the art in his late fifties, once he was cured of the concern of critical opinion, launched at his later novels (there you have those nasty, spiteful critics again).

W.H. Auden believed Hardy was a “good, but not great poet”…some of his poems “were just plain bad.” Now let’s not argue, poet versus poet, but every poet will have their differences.  

In this poem by Hardy, I think he judged the medium just right.  It somehow makes you thankful for the rain; very quickly, and in few words he creates a real physical and emotional atmosphere-

A Thunderstorm In Town (abridged)
‘…we stayed, because of the pelting storm

Within the hansom’s dry recess…

…we sat on snug and warm

Then the downpour ceased, to my sharp sad pain…

…and out she sprang to her door:

I should have kissed her if the rain

Had lasted a minute more.’

I’m sorry he never kissed her, he’s sorry too.  Oh! If the rain had lasted longer “Kiss Me Hardy!”