The British electrical plug. A design classic you either ignore, or ridicule depending on where you’re from.

Foreign visitors have been known to query the design of the British electrical plug which, compared with that of most countries, seems quite large and – if you accidentally step on one – rather painful. Well once it’s plugged in it’s not that large at all, and far less easy to accidentally kick out of […]

Worktown: The Astonishing Story of the Project that launched Mass Observation, by David Hall

An interesting review of Worktown in The Guardian, the beginning of the Mass Observation project in inter-war Britain. You do not learn about birds by interviewing them, he insisted: you watch them, as closely as you can and without trying to guess in advance what the results might be. As for birds, so for the […]

Eureka! UK home to 20% of creative workers in EU, study shows

Britain can claim 1 million more creative workers than France, and has more than a fifth of the creative staff in the EU, research shows. But the UK lags behind Sweden, which has won the accolade as the European economy with the highest proportion of creative workers. The report by Nesta, an independent thinktank, shows […]

The other KKK: how the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift tried to craft a new world

Each member was an artwork: living propaganda. None of their paraphernalia was shop-bought. The handicrafts aspect of the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift (kinsmen and kinswomen were supposed to make their own clothes, their own staffs, and their own tents) went hand in hand with the determination to shun many aspects of the modern civilisation […]

Britain on film: thousands of pieces of archive footage go online for first time

Anyone who thought the Edwardians stuffy and polite will be relieved to hear researchers found at least four examples of young boys giving the camera V-signs. There are very serious subjects with unexpected humour. The 1970s mother who lives in one of Britain’s worse slums, in Birmingham’s Balsall Heath, being interviewed holding her baby cheerfully […]

In the line of duty: how the British followed fashion during the second world war

I’ve often wondered what “normal” life was like during the war. There was still crime, people still went to work, fell in love, died of natural causes, and worried about fashion. The women’s auxiliary services were shameless in using clothes to catch recruits. Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) officers were generally reckoned to have the […]

How Kids Company feeds Britain’s hungry children

Kids Company is a rare children’s charity in that the people it feeds and looks after are self-referring. Children come to them by themselves, and later they bring others who are also in need. “Between 2011 and 2012 we saw a 233% increase in these self-referrals,” Guinness says. As a result they launched the Plate […]