I picked up a copy of the BBC's staff magazine, Ariel, from November 1960 off eBay recently which was on my doormat when I got home today. A thoroughly absorbing read I have to admit. Scary how little things have changed really with the Director of Television Broadcasting reiterating "the BBC's function to make good things popular and popular things good".
The adverts were inevitably good value. Personal favourites include a quarter page ad for 'Bond', who "suggest hosiery for Xmas, and would be pleased to show you their selection of Men's Wear, including shorts, ties, knitwear, underwear, socks (which include Viennese pure lisle), and a variety of other accessories" and 'Stella hair fashions' who announce their new SPECIAL service which includes a Shampoo and Set, Coffee or Tea and a Sandwich, all for just 11/6.
The 'Mutual Aid' section (a feature "designed for the use of members of staff who have anything they wish to buy or sell") also proved a winner. A selection of the best:
"FOR SALE: Pair of almost new frog slippers, size 6-7. 15s. BH 2766"
"FOR SALE: beautiful mink marmot coat. Full swing back, generous collar and cuffs. Average size. Worn three times. Owner going overseas. £65 o.n.o. Also lady's ice skates, white, size 6, £2. Box 5/5/11."
"I am disposing of my small but choice collection of Georgian drinking glasses at reasonable prices. Seen London. Details from Box 13/5/11."
"Christmas presents? Give gaily coloured love-birds, budgerigars, parakeets, mostly bred outdoors. Phone PABX 2983"
However the real piece de resistance is to be found in the Letters to the Editor. Over to S.W. Budd...
My bathroom scales tell me that my weight is 9 st. 12lb. This worries me a lot because, screwed to the wall outside my office at the new Television Centre there is a small black plaque with white lettering. It reads:
The imposed load on this floor is
not to exceed 85 lb. per sq. ft.
Penalty for contravention £50.
My reading of this notice leaves me in no doubt at all that unless I am careful to distribute my 138 lb. on both feet splayed more than twelve inches apart I run the risk of prosecution under these 1952 bye-laws. This artificial stance I find difficult. Indeed, as the act of walking necessitates the whole of my 138 lb. being imposed alternatively on one foot and then the other (unless I shuffle along with an oscillating gait and thus make myself somewhat conspicuous), I would go so far as to say that it is impossible for me at all times to comply with the regulations covering this fragile edifice.
So where, Mr Editor, do I stand - figuratively as well as literally? I have no choice in the matter of accommodation. I would gladly return even to Woodstock Grove to avoid conflict with the law in this matter. But I am directed to work at the Television Centre, where, as I see it, I must contravene the provisions of the London Bye-laws 1952 every working day from the very moment that I enter the building.
Unless I misunderstand the implication of the notice it seems to me that advertisements for vacancies for jobs at the Television Centre ought, in all fairness, to be prefaced by the phrase 'Applicants of British nationality and weighing (clothed) not more than 6 st. 1 lb. are invited etc. etc.' In the meantime, and for those of us, including Richard Dimbleby, who may be unable to achieve by dieting or other means this necessary qualification, I hope that All.O. can be persuaded to accept as entirely reasonable claims for the reimbursement of any fines (not exceeding £50) imposed upon as under this particular by law.
S. W. Budd"