Age of Innocence – 1954 Part One, Inclement Weather and Sport

I first started this blog in November 2009 and I called it ‘The Age of Innocence’ and I intended it to be a look back over the first twenty years or so of my life by examining some of the events of the years that were making the big news.

The blog was a slow starter, in the first month the statistics show six views increasing to nine in December.  On the basis of these figures it is fair to assume then that not many people have read my early posts so I have decided that over five years since first publication I will go back and review them and repost:

1954 Part 1 – Inclement Weather and Sport

Weather Forecast 

The weather in England is often, no mostly, disappointing and a source of amusement for people in other parts of the World who have the benefit of warmer and drier climates.

According to official records the year 1954 was especially poor.

The Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office was produced by the Air Ministry and printed by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.  It had been in circulation since January 1884 and a note on the front cover explained that it was a “summary of observations compiled from returns of official stations and volunteer observers”.  It wasn’t an especially exciting publication and at a cost of two shillings, which wasn’t an inconsiderable sum at the time, you would have had to be a really serious weather enthusiast to order a subscription at the newsagents.

For anyone that did buy the June edition (actually published in September), it reported that the month of June 1954 was all rather bleak and depressing, beset with frequent rain, below average temperatures for the time of year and the lowest ever recorded hours of sunshine for June since records began.

Heavy Rain

It turned out to be the worst summer of the century and the official verdict was confirmed by a weather report in the cricket journal Wisden’s Almanack in its annual review of the season including reports on the international matches.

In 1954 the Pakistan cricket team made their first ever tour of England and on Thursday 10th June were due to play their first test match in London at Lords Cricket Ground but heavy rain meant that no play was possible on the opening day.  It rained all of the next day too and the day after that and this became the first test match in England when all first three days were completely washed out.  This was unfortunate for anyone who had bought a ticket of course because unlike the US baseball rain check system if there was no play in a test match then that was just plain bad luck.

I wonder what was going through the minds of the Pakistan team as they sat in the dressing room wearing several jumpers and watching the rain pouring down when they knew that back home average June temperatures were around about 38°; they all look rather uncomfortable in this official team photograph…

Pakistan 1954 Tourists

The weather was providing all sorts of bizarre incidents and raising all sorts of questions but none more freakish than what happened on 12th June when a heavy rainstorm hit the city of Birmingham.  People fled for cover and visitors to a city park heard what sounded like the patter of unusually heavy raindrops beating against their umbrellas and then they were astonished to discover that the rain consisted of not just water but hundreds of tiny frogs!  Reports of frogs falling from the sky go back some way and some scientists account for these strange rains by explaining that frogs and fish are sometimes swept into the air by whirlwinds or tornados, transported along by the winds and then later on unceremoniously dumped from the sky.

It was around about now that I was due to make an appearance and more or less on time I was born in the afternoon of Tuesday 15th June at about the same time that the Midlands and the North of England were experiencing one of the wettest June days ever.

On an average day in the 1950s roughly about 340,000 people were born so there must be a reasonable chance that most people will share a birthday with someone famous.  I’d like to tell you that mine is the same day as someone really, really famous but I have to make do with the actor James Belushi.

Front cover of Look Magazine 15th June 1954 – Grace Kelly…

Look Magazine 15 June 1954

There was another birth, of sorts, on June 15th because this was the day that the footballing countries of Europe got together and founded EUFA, The Union of European Football Associations, as the governing body of European football.  It originally consisted of twenty-five members including three countries that no longer exist in the way that they did in 1954, The Soviet Union, East Germany and Yugoslavia.  Another little know fact is that another founder member was Saarland which was a German Rhine State that was under post war French occupation at the time.

The following day the fifth FIFA World Cup competition began in Switzerland and competitors included West Germany who by a curious twist of fate had qualified for the finals by beating Saarland!  I can’t imagine that would have been terribly difficult, rather like England playing Cornwall or USA playing Hawaii.  West Germany went on to win the World Cup by beating Hungary 3-2 in the final.

Despite the objections of France who wanted to retain the occupied territory on account of its coal and mineral wealth Saarland was reunited with West Germany in 1957 and so was no longer entitled to independent membership of EUFA.

I can’t help wondering now what my dad thought about all of this at the time.  He must have been proud to have a son but he was also mad keen on football but I’ll keep that for a later story…

Next time – wartime rationing and nuclear testing.

Ivan 1954

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19 responses to “Age of Innocence – 1954 Part One, Inclement Weather and Sport

  1. Pingback: Age of Innocence – Updated and Reposted | Have Bag, Will Travel

  2. Do you rewrite at all, or just go with the original? I haven’t reposted yet (still too new compared to your extensive collection), although I regurgitate older stuff by way of the ‘sticky’ post on my blog theme, which does the job to some extent… but when I do look at old posts, I tend to start tweaking them, in the vain hope that I’ll improve them somewhat. Wondered how you approach this, as you are in recycle season (via reposting and links to WPC entries – which is a great idea btw?

    • I use the challenge just to signpost readers to old posts in the same way that you use sticky. A bit of tweaking now and again and definitely spelling corrections!
      These old posts are from 2009 and I feel that they are ready for review and rewrite if for no other reason that I hope I have improved as a writer since they were first posted.

      • It’s interesting how critical we can be looking back on past work – I guess that comes with experience. Yes, 2009-2012 is moons ago in blogging terms; plus most have much lower ‘like’ numbers to your more recent publications, so there’s definitely a reader gap to be filled. I think they work well.

      • As you know this whole blogging interaction thing really intrigues me. I wrote the original post in November 2009 and the stats say that since then there have been 1,200 views but there are no likes and only 2 comments. My repost is barely 6 hours old and already there is more interest and interaction. Different audience I guess. I wish I understood it, I could make a fortune!

  3. I find that I want to repost often. I like your idea. I guess as I learn more about blogging and the way I interact with other blogs the more I realise that very few people ever look at yesterday’s post. So if you missed yesterday’s post and it was going to change you whole life then you’ll never see it. And you’ll just have to go on being the same as you were. The lesson is, don’t blog if you want to change the world – you’ll be disappointed.

    • That’s true. Much of the blogging world is just instant reaction to the latest post. Readers and followers come and go. Reposting is a way of recycling posts. After all I often read a good book that I should have come across years ago!
      These posts are over 5 years old so most people I interact with now have never seen them! Review and repost often!

  4. That’s a good idea, revisiting your early blogs, now that you have a gang of followers! It’s kind of sad going back to old posts, and seeing how few people had seen them!

    Your father looks far too young to have the responsibility of young Andrew.

  5. Good idea to re-post again. A little nostalgia for some of us. Anyway, haven’t you heard? What’s old is new again? 🙂

  6. This must have been a fun exercise: reviewing your life from an adult’s perspective, but thinking about things going on when you were tiny. Great idea. I also should re-post. Some of my stuff from 2007 (when I started) was pretty good, but I had about 3 readers back then.

  7. Your stuff makes a fascinating read so it is nice to know you are giving the old stuff a selective airing with you in firm control. It’s quite hard for a reader to take the time go back and back into the long ago posts on any blog…. large or otherwise on a random basis, so this is a special treat to look forward to, a bit like a guided tour!

  8. I love reading your posts too – it’s up there with published memoirs by the likes of Alan Johnson, and complements the David Kynaston and Dominic Sandbrook kind of stuff. I try to write in a similar vein but get nothing like the traffic you have, which might be for several reasons, one being that I’m a newcomer, but do you think I’d be better on WordPress which seems to have a stronger community than on Blogger where I am?

    • Traffic will come! I started on blogger but moved over to WordPress. I have alwyay considered WordPress a better blogging platform but it is changing rapidly and not always for the best!

  9. I’m so glad you’re reposting your old posts, Andrew. I started blogging in 2013, might repost some of my old posts too.
    I love your posts, they’re full of interesting facts and well written. In 1954, the year you were born, I was in your country in summer and the weather was unbelievably bleak, hardly any sunshine. I was happy to return to my sunny homeland, Yugoslavia.
    .

    • Thanks, I appreciate your comment. I think it is worth reposting older work because new followers rarely look back into the archives unless prompted.
      I never visited Yugoslavia when it was Yugoslavia but within the last ten years I have been to Croatia several times, Slovenia, Montenegro and Bosnia.
      I have never been to Australia either although I do have relatives in Adelaide.

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