It all Depends on Me – or You? Betty Driver RIP, Potato Pete, Mr. Chad and propaganda of the 1940s


'It All Depends on Me' playing card sized propaganda for your pocket diary, from the Brewers Society, 1941/42 (image from the World War Zoo gardens collection, Newquay Zoo)

In David Lowe’s wonderful Sunday evening programme Swingers and Singers (BBC Radio Devon / Cornwall, 8 pm – 10 pm Sundays, catch it on Listen Again  for a week afterwards about two weeks ago there was a cheery Charlestonesque late 1920s / Early 30s dance band number, called something like “It All Depends on You” which reminded me of this little trade card (above) and bit of morale boosting “It all depends on me” .

A big A4 copy sits above my desk at Newquay Zoo  above the scurf of plant pots, string,  seed packets and books as a little reminder for modern times and busy days at work.

I wonder how people would have responded then to the bossy or cheerful tone of this little card?

Music was  big morale booster, as was the funny little bits of propaganda from Potato Pete to the famous Mr. Chad (Wot No bananas?) still going strong chalked on walls when I was a child. Up near Shepherds Market in London a few months ago I saw the simple little chalk message Cheer Up! written on the wall, which made everyone smile who saw it. Better than the endless cynical  ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ variations everywhere.

Sadly yesterday the death of actress and singer 91 year old Betty Driver was announced, the news clips mentioning as well as her famous spell as Betty Turpin, barmaid of the Rover’s Return from my childhood onwards, there were also soundbites  of her lesser known dance band singing days including Potato Pete’s song. I hope they sing this cheery number at her funeral and have the wake in the Rover’s afterwards …

Maybe this is is a bit different  from the selfish ‘ME’ culture we’re told makes us all so different now from the 1940s generation, although the excellent Foyle’s War on television and various other dark histories of the Home Front pick up on the thriving, skiving and occasionally murderous underworld of the Home Front in difficult wartime. Stealing vegetables from wartime allotments was punishable with a fine (don’t tell this to the visitors who tuck into the odd ripe strawberry from our ‘dig for victory’ plot at Newquay Zoo).

Carolyn Lucas  the Green Party MP has been exploring the difference and similarities between the 1940s and today in her New Home Front report and poster competition,  – worth downloading this report and keeping alook out for the poster competition winners.   

I’ll be talking about this ‘secret’ sustainability side of our wartime garden at the BIAZA Twycross ACE zoo meeting in November – if you want to look at more posters, they have a fantastic collection online at the Imperial War Museum website (see blog roll)and many reproducations in their fabulous online shop.

This week we have a teachers’ open afternoon on Thursday 20th October 2011 for teachers in Cornish schools to come in and meet our education team and find out more about what we offer schools – our Dig for Victory plot and some of the World War Zoo Gardens collection of material used in our schools talks on wartime zoos and wartime life will be on display. See our website for details and 

We won’t forget Betty Driver / Betty Turpin RIP, and don’t forget – David Lowe’s Swingers and Singers each Sunday night (I keep wanting to call it ‘Swingers and Sinners’ but that’s probably another very different programme!)

Remember – “It All Depends On Me!” (So I’m off to ‘Dig For Victory!’ in our little allotment plot)


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One Response to “It all Depends on Me – or You? Betty Driver RIP, Potato Pete, Mr. Chad and propaganda of the 1940s”

  1. 1941 grimmest year of the war 75 years on | Worldwarzoogardener1939's Blog Says:

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