Saturday 22 March 2014

Happy 1935!

I was pottering around Browsers - a fine second-hand bookshop on Hamilton's Victoria Street this morning, and was led astray by a copy of the December 28, 1934 N.Z. Radio Record and Home Journal in, as the saying goes, "good nick." I parted with the princely sum of $12.

It's a time capsule of life in a distant decade. Inside the publication boasts a full page "Happy New Year to All!" message featuring Shirley Temple. A correspondent reveals that the late Sir Edward Elgar, with whom he was acquainted, "utterly condemned jazz and all its unholy works!" In "A Newsletter from London" dated November 14 we learn that the BBC's "Empire announcers" are anonymous by company policy, but then the anonymous "special correspondent" proceeds to 'out' the "senior Empire announcer [as] one Captain W. Shewen, an ex-army officer." And, no jingoism here, where we are informed that "The King, the world's most famous broadcaster, will speak as head of an Empire-wide family party on Christmas Day.

Well, it makes a refreshing change from the celebrity slop we have to deal with in an age when Justin Bieber is considered newsworthy.

Movies are covered, with the news that the 1934 British film Jew Suss (not to be confused with the 1940 Nazi propaganda film of the same name) is due for early release in New Zealand. This is, you may be as surprised as me to learn, "the film version of one of the greatest books of the twentieth century."

Allow me one little further indulgence before I get to the point of this post. This is the lead item on page 18.
"The Duke of Gloucester carries with him his own radio set, which is installed for his pleasure wherever he stays for any length of time. It is understood that the set is a modern one, specially made for him. Prior to his arrival in Auckland this week the set was sent ahead and installed by a radio inspector at Government House where his Royal Highness listened to his Majesty's speech broadcast to the world from the Empire station at 3 a.m. on Boxing Day. Not a little trouble was experienced in adjusting the set - an a.c. one - to work in a d.c. area, a converter having to be installed."

Yup, life was tough at the top.

In 1935 New Zealand's ties to "the old country" were obviously rock solid. A different world.

But the stiff upper lip conservatism apparently didn't extend to religion. At the bottom of page 10, probably as an afterthought to pad out the column, this short quote appears:
Our Gospels really have some characteristics in common with works of fiction. - Professor J. F. Bethune Baker.
I have no idea who Bethune Baker was, but he was obviously a clued up dude.


  1. "some characteristics in common with works of fiction" indeed! Succinctly put, and indubitable.

  2. A Google search for Bethune Baker gives this snippet from Wikipedia. He seems to be somebody Gavin might like to learn more about, and report back to us readers.

    James Franklin Bethune-Baker FBA was the Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge from 1891. A Modern Churchman, Bethune-Baker was particularly well known for his work on the person and writings of Nestorius. Wikipedia
    Born: 1861
    Died: January 13, 1951
    Books: An Introduction to the Early History of Christian Doctrine: To the Time of the Council of Chalcedon

  3. The Radio Record, by the way, is now known as the Listener!