Wednesday, 2 August 2017

What will they think of next? – a Guinness brochure

Here’s a phrase that perfectly encapsulates the exasperation of English conservatism with the onward march of progress. The 16 page illustrated booklet reproduced here was produced in 1954 by Guinness for distribution to the medical profession. Food rationing had finally ended and post-war reconstruction was being followed by ambitious slum clearance projects - the age of the tower block was at hand. Britain’s future was invested in nuclear energy and jet powered flight. Unfortunately this was the year that two Comet airliners crashed into the Mediterranean and with them went Britain’s hopes of becoming a world power in aviation. Easy access to credit in the form of Hire Purchase Agreements helped to boost a sense of prosperity but the age of austerity was giving way to an age of anxiety. The English appetite for verbal and visual whimsy was well catered to in this publication with the addition of a strong flavour of resentment at technological change and a comforting surrender to nostalgia. An unknown scribe at S H Benson (the Guinness advertising agency) wrote the verses and neatly parodied the English instinct to reject innovation in any shape or form – often before adopting it with disproportionate enthusiasm. The illustrations were the work of Antony Groves-Raines – a master of visual charm with a talent for combining his own magic realism and crisp contours with a jaunty amiability certain to please.

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