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1937: POST OFFICE SPEAKING CLOCK.
This somewhat impressionistic style of cartoon would have looked avant-garde at the time (March 1937, London Evening News). In fact it looks quite peculiar even now -- why are the boy's feet apparently back to front?
The artist is Frank Ford, who also drew dust jackets for P.G. Wodehouse books in the 1940s.
The UK speaking clock, then as now, announced the time every 10 seconds with the phrase "at the third stroke it will be ..." followed by three pips. The ad relies on a feeble play on words -- in British parlance the word "stroke" can also mean a whack of the cane, as in "three strokes of the cane", or in this case, less typically, the slipper.
The boy adopts the "hands on knees" style of bending over for his punishment, which seems a bit formal for a parental whacking. On balance, I think the man is probably supposed to be a schoolmaster. This would also fit rather better with the idea of the whacks being called "strokes", which seems less appropriate in a parental context.
Copyright © C. Farrell 2003
Page created January 2003