Tag Archives: Lego

Age of Innocence – 1960, Lego and Lady Chatterley

1960! And so the famous decade began, pop music, mods and rockers, flower power and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, or CND for short.  The 1950s had been a steady decade not so different from those that had gone before but the 1960s were about to change the world forever and there would definitely be no going back.

In 1960 there was an event which I suppose stimulated this part of my story.  In November John F Kennedy was elected the thirty-fifth President of the United States, the youngest ever at forty-three and the first Roman Catholic.

He didn’t become President in 1960 because America has a curious system whereby the winner has to wait two months before officially taking office, that is two months being paid for doing absolutely nothing but I suppose this at least gives time for the outgoing Chief Executive to clear his personal possessions out of the White House.

Also in politics it was in 1960 that the British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan gave his “Wind of Change speech” to the Parliament of South Africa, on 3 February 1960 in Cape Town at the end of a month spent in Africa visiting a number of British colonies, as they were at the time.

The speech sent a clear signal that the British Government intended to decolonise and most of the British possessions in Africa subsequently became independent nations in the 1960s.  The South Africans, sensing a loss of white supremacy, didn’t approve of this and the speech led directly from their withdrawal from the Commonwealth and their continuing support for the apartheid system.

Another significant event of 1960 that was to have far reaching consequencies was the formation of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  This was an event that would leave the west dependent on the Middle East for its oil and has resulted in a succession of international difficulties in the region.

1960 saw the introduction to Britain of two new must have toys:

The first was the Etch-a-Sketch, which was a big bag of aluminium dust behind a plastic screen that you scraped doodles into, like you would on the window of a steamed-up car.  But rather than use your finger you had to demonstrate enormous amounts of patience and dexterity and twiddle two knobs which was an action that required almost impossible eye to hand co-ordination.  Etch-a-Sketch was invented by a man by the name of Arthur Granjean who developed L’Ecran Magique, The Magic Screen, in his garage.  After several years of being ignored as a load of magnetic rubbish L’Ecran Magique was eventually bought up by an American toy firm and renamed Etch-a-Sketch.

Actually Etch-a-Sketch was really hopeless and it was impossible to draw anything really creative.  The box suggested all sorts of drawing possibilities but in reality although it was alright for houses or anything else with straight lines beyond that it was excruciatingly frustrating to draw anything that anyone would be able to meaningfully identify.

Much more important was the introduction of Lego which was seen at the Brighton Toy Fair for the first time in 1960.  Lego is a Danish company and the name comes from the Danish words ‘LEg GOdt’ meaning ‘play well’.  Now this just has to be one of the best toys ever and when it was first introduced the brightly coloured bricks sold by the bucketful.  Pre-Lego I had a construction set called Bako, which was a set of bakerlite bricks and metal wires that could be used to construct different styles of houses but nothing more inspired than that.  Lego changed everything and the only restrictions on creativity thereafter were the number of bricks in the toy box and our imagination!

BAYKO

Others agree with me about the importance of Lego and the British Association of Toy Retailers named Lego the toy of the century.

From Lego to leg over because 1960 was a big year for literature when the book ‘Lady Chatterleys Lover’ was published by Penguin books and whipped up a legal storm.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ is a novel by D. H. Lawrence that was written in 1928 and printed at that time privately in Florence.  The publication of the book caused a scandal due to its explicit sex scenes, including the use of previously banned four letter words.  When it was published in Britain in 1960, the trial of the publishers, Penguin Books, under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 was a major public event and a test of the new obscenity law.

The 1959 Act had made it possible for publishers to escape conviction if they could show that a work was of literary merit and Penguin books took up the challenge.  At the trial various academic critics, were called as witnesses, and the verdict, delivered on November 2, 1960, was not guilty.  This resulted in a far greater degree of freedom for publishing explicit material in the United Kingdom.

A nice story about the trial which illustrates just how big a watershed 1960 was in terms of changing social attitudes was when  the chief prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, asked the jury if it were the kind of book “you would wish your wife or servants to read“.

Much later than 1960 I found a copy of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ on the top of my dad’s wardrobe and was able to go immediately to the offending chapter because the book fell naturally open at exactly the right spot.

I suspect most of it had not been read at all but the few pages of dirty words were well thumbed and dog-eared and over the next few weeks I contributed to this by sharing it with all of mates whenever they came around to the house when my parents were out.  It made a change from looking up rude words in the dictionary.  This all stopped when one day when the book had gone from the top of the wardrobe and although nothing was ever said I knew that I’d been rumbled.

Lady Chatterley's Lover

One final thing about 1960 is that John, Paul, George and Ringo became the Beatles and the world of popular music would never be the same again and Russ Conway never had another number one hit!

Facts about 1960:

Best Film Oscar – The Apartment

FA Cup Winners – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Miss World Winner – Norma Gladys Cappalgi from Argentina

World Motor Racing Champion – Jack Brabham ofAustralia

World Series Champions – Pittsburg Pirates

Eurovision Song Contest Winner – Jacqueline Boyer, France

Scrap Book Project – The Boys’ Toy Box

Like most boys I had a train set which was set out on a square metre of sapele board and was a simple circle of track, an engine a tender and two coaches in British Rail burgundy livery.  There was a level crossing, a station and a bridge made out of an old shoe box that dad had cut out and made himself.

I remember that Dad used to like playing with the train set and a lot of the time I had to watch the train going around the track whilst he operated the controller, set the points and coupled and uncoupled the coaches and wagons.  In fact he liked train sets so much that one of the last birthday presents that I bought him before he died was a Hornby Flying Scotsman set.  It’s in storage now in my loft space.

Dad was good at making things and at about the same time I had a fort with some US cavalry soldiers that was made out of an old office filing box that he had constructed into a pretty good scale copy of Fort Laramie or wherever, later I had a replacement fort, this time from the toy shop but it was never as good as the cardboard box.

To go inside the fort was a regiment of US cavalry soldiers and to attack it were a dozen or so blood-thirsty Indians.  I also had some cowboy figures called ‘swapits’ which, as the name suggests could be taken apart and reassembled in different combinations of legs, torso and head but a lot of the little pieces, especially the gun belts and the neckerchiefs, went missing quite quickly.

For many years after that there were new additions to the train set until I had quite an extensive network of track and a good collection of engines and rolling stock.  But something bad happened to the train set in about 1972 when all of the engines mysteriously stopped functioning.  The reason for this was quickly discovered.  Brother Richard who has always been more gifted than me with a screwdriver had dismantled them all as part of his engineering education.  Unfortunately at this time his skills were not sufficiently developed to be able to put them back together again with quite the same level of expertise and consequently that was the end of model railways in our house.

1960 saw the introduction to Britain of two new must have toys.  The first was the Etch-a-Sketch, which was a big bag of aluminium dust behind a plastic screen that you scraped doodles into, like you would on the window of a steamed-up car.  But rather than use your finger you had to demonstrate unnatural amounts of patience, perseverence and agility and twiddle two knobs which was an action that required almost impossibly high levels of eye to hand co-ordination.  Actually I always considered Etch-a-Sketch to be really hopeless and it was impossible to draw anything really creative.  The box suggested all sorts of drawing possibilities but in reality although it was alright for houses or anything else with straight lines beyond that it was excruciatingly frustrating to draw anything that anyone would be able to meaningfully identify.

  

Much more important than Etch-a-Sketch was the introduction of the construction toy Lego which was seen at the Brighton Toy Fair for the first time in 1960.  Lego is a Danish company and the name comes from the Danish words ‘LEg GOdt’ meaning play well.  Now this just has to be one of the best toys ever and when it was first introduced the brightly coloured bricks sold by the bucketful.

It is estimated that there are now eighty-six Lego bricks for every person on earth, with around seven sets sold every second, while the 400 million tyres that are produced each year for them makes it the world’s biggest tyre manufacturer.

Pre-Lego I had a construction set called Bayko, which was a set of bakerlite bricks and metal wires that could be used to construct different styles of houses but nothing more exciting than that.  Lego changed everything and the only restrictions on creativity thereafter were the number of bricks in the toy box and a child’s (or an adult’s) imagination!

Others agree with me about the importance of Lego and the British Association of Toy Retailers has named Lego the toy of the century.

The final ‘must have’ boys’ toy was the construction set Meccano which was a model building system comprising re-usable metal strips, plates, angle girders, wheels, axles and gears, with nuts and bolts to connect the pieces together to (in theory) enable the building of working models and mechanical devices.

I had a box of Meccano which, on a rainy afternoon, made you feel like a real engineer for a few hours.  Like Lego the real problem with Meccano was that almost always there were never enough parts to complete the planned ambitious project and most grand construction plans that were conceived in the mind were never fully completed by our fingers.  Like a lot of boys of my age I abandoned Meccano when plastic parts began to replace the original metal pieces because for some reason this made it seem slightly less grown-up.

The Boys’ Toy Box

Like most boys I had a train set which was set out on a square metre of sapele board and was a simple circle of track, an engine a tender and two coaches in British Rail burgundy livery.  There was a level crossing, a station and a bridge made out of an old shoe box that dad had cut out and made himself.  He was good at making things and at about the same time I had a fort with some US cavalry soldiers that was made out of an old office filing box that he had constructed into a pretty good scale copy of Fort Laramie or wherever, later I had a replacement fort, this time from the toy shop but it was never as good as the cardboard box.  To go inside the fort was a regiment of US cavalry soldiers and to attack it were a dozen or so blood-thirsty Indians.  I also had some cowboy figures called ‘swapits’ which, as the name suggests could be taken apart and reassembled in different combinations of legs, torso and head but a lot of the little pieces went missing quite quickly.

For many years after that there were new additions to the train set until I had quite an extensive network of track and a good collection of engines and rolling stock.  But something bad happened to the train set in about 1972 when all of the engines mysteriously stopped functioning.  The reason for this was quickly discovered.  Brother Richard who has always been more gifted than me with a screwdriver had dismantled them all as part of his engineering education.  Unfortunately at this time his skills were not sufficiently developed to be able to put them back together again with quite the same level of expertise and consequently that was the end of model railways in our house.

1960 saw the introduction to Britain of two new must have toys.  The first was the Etch-a-Sketch, which was a big bag of aluminium dust behind a plastic screen that you scraped doodles into, like you would on the window of a steamed-up car.  But rather than use your finger you had to demonstrate unnatural amounts of patience, perseverence and agility and twiddle two knobs which was an action that required almost impossibly high levels of eye to hand co-ordination.  Actually I always considered Etch-a-Sketch to be really hopeless and it was impossible to draw anything really creative.  The box suggested all sorts of drawing possibilities but in reality although it was alright for houses or anything else with straight lines beyond that it was excruciatingly frustrating to draw anything that anyone would be able to meaningfully identify.

 

Much more important than Etch-a-Sketch was the introduction of the construction toy Lego which was seen at the Brighton Toy Fair for the first time in 1960.  Lego is a Danish company and the name comes from the Danish words ‘LEg GOdt’ meaning play well.  Now this just has to be one of the best toys ever and when it was first introduced the brightly coloured bricks sold by the bucketful.  Pre-Lego I had a construction set called Bayko, which was a set of bakerlite bricks and metal wires that could be used to construct different styles of houses but nothing more exciting than that.  Lego changed everything and the only restrictions on creativity thereafter were the number of bricks in the toy box and a child’s (or an adult’s) imagination!

Others agree with me about the importance of Lego and the British Association of Toy Retailers has named Lego the toy of the century.

The final ‘must have’ boys’ toy was the construction set Meccano which was a model building system comprising re-usable metal strips, plates, angle girders, wheels, axles and gears, with nuts and bolts to connect the pieces together to (in theory) enable the building of working models and mechanical devices. I had a box of Meccano which, on a rainy afternoon, made you feel like a real engineer for a few hours.  Like Lego the real problem with Meccano was that almost always there were never enough parts to complete the planned ambitious project and most grand construction plans that were conceived in the mind were never fully completed by our fingers.  Like a lot of boys of my age I abandoned Meccano when plastic parts began to replace the original metal pieces because for some reason this made it seem slightly less grown-up.

A Life in a Year – 28th January, Lego, the Toy Of The Century

1960 saw the introduction to Britain of two new must have toys.  The first was the Etch-a-Sketch, which was a big bag of aluminium dust behind a plastic screen that you scraped doodles into, like you would on the window of a steamed-up car.  But rather than use your finger you had to demonstrate enormous amounts of persistence and agility and twiddle two knobs which was an action that required almost impossibly high levels of eye to hand co-ordination.

Etch-a-Sketch was invented by a man by the name of Arthur Granjean who developed what he called ‘L’Ecran Magique’, or ‘The Magic Screen’, in his garage.  After several years of being ignored as a load of magnetic nonsense L’Ecran Magique was eventually bought up by an American toy firm and renamed Etch-a-Sketch.

Actually Etch-a-Sketch was really hopeless and it was impossible to draw anything really creative.  The box suggested all sorts of drawing possibilities but in reality although it was alright for houses or anything else with straight lines beyond that it was excruciatingly frustrating to draw anything that anyone would be able to meaningfully identify.

Much more important than Etch-a-Sketch was the introduction of the construction toy Lego which was seen at the Brighton Toy Fair for the first time in 1960.

Lego is a Danish company and the name comes from the Danish words ‘LEg GOdt’ meaning play well.  Now this just has to be one of the best toys ever and when it was first introduced the brightly coloured bricks sold by the bucketful.  Pre-Lego I had a construction set called Bayko, which was a set of bakerlite bricks and metal wires that could be used to construct different styles of houses but nothing more exciting than that.  Lego changed everything and the only restrictions on creativity thereafter were the number of bricks in the toy box and a child’s (or an adult’s) imagination!

Others agree with me about the importance of Lego and the British Association of Toy Retailers has named Lego the toy of the century.

 

1960 – Beatles, Lego and Lady Chatterley

1960! And so the famous decade began, pop music, mods and rockers, flower power and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, or CND for short.  The 1950s had been a steady decade not so different from those that had gone before but the 1960s were about to change the world forever and there would definitely be no going back.

In 1960 there was an event which I suppose stimulated this part of my story.  In November John F Kennedy was elected the thirty-fifth President of the United States, the youngest ever at forty-three and the first Roman Catholic.  He didn’t become President in 1960 because America has a curious system whereby the winner has to wait two months before officially taking office, but I suppose this at least gives time for the outgoing Chief Executive to clear his personal possessions out of the White House.

Staying with politics it was in 1960 that the British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan gave his “Wind of Change speech” to the Parliament of South Africa, on 3 February 1960 in Cape Town at the end of a month spent in Africa visiting a number of British colonies, as they were at the time.  The speech signalled clearly that the British Government intended to decolonise and most of the British possessions in Africa subsequently became independent nations in the 1960s.  The South Africans, being extreme racist bigots, didn’t approve of this and the speech led directly from their withdrawal from the Commonwealth and their continuing support for the apartheid system.

Another significant event of 1960 that was to have far reaching consequencies was the formation of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  This was an event that would leave the west dependent on the Middle East for its oil and has resulted in a succession of international difficulties in the region.

1960 saw the introduction to Britain of two new must have toys.  The first was the Etch-a-Sketch, which was a big bag of aluminium dust behind a plastic screen that you scraped doodles into, like you would on the window of a steamed-up car.  But rather than use your finger you had to demonstrate enormous amounts of patience and dexterity and twiddle two knobs which was an action that required almost impossible eye to hand co-ordination.  Etch-a-Sketch was invented by a man by the name of Arthur Granjean who developed L’Ecran Magique, The Magic Screen, in his garage.  After several years of being ignored as a load of magnetic rubbish L’Ecran Magique was eventually bought up by an American toy firm and renamed Etch-a-Sketch.

Actually Etch-a-Sketch was really hopeless and it was impossible to draw anything really creative.  The box suggested all sorts of drawing possibilities but in reality although it was alright for houses or anything else with straight lines but beyond that it was excruciatingly frustrating to draw anything that anyone would be able to meaningfully identify.

Much more important was the introduction of Lego which was seen at the Brighton Toy Fair for the first time in 1960.  Lego is a Danish company and the name comes from the Danish words ‘LEg GOdt’ meaning ‘play well’.  Now this just has to be one of the best toys ever and when it was first introduced the brightly coloured bricks sold by the bucketful.  Pre-Lego I had a construction set called Bako, which was a set of bakerlite bricks and metal wires that could be used to construct different styles of houses but nothing more inspired than that.  Lego changed everything and the only restrictions on creativity thereafter were the number of bricks in the toy box and our imagination!

Others agree with me about the importance of Lego and the British Association of Toy Retailers has named Lego the toy of the century.

From Lego to leg over because 1960 was a big year for pornography when the book ‘Lady Chatterleys Lover’ was published by Penguin books and whipped up a legal storm.  ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ is a novel by D. H. Lawrence that was written in 1928 and printed at that time privately in Florence.  The publication of the book caused a scandal due to its explicit sex scenes, including the use of previously banned four letter words.  When it was published in Britain in 1960, the trial of the publishers, Penguin Books, under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 was a major public event and a test of the new obscenity law.

The 1959 Act had made it possible for publishers to escape conviction if they could show that a work was of literary merit and Penguin books took up the challenge.  At the trial various academic critics, were called as witnesses, and the verdict, delivered on November 2, 1960, was not guilty.  This resulted in a far greater degree of freedom for publishing explicit material in the United Kingdom.  A nice story about the trial which illustrates just how big a watershed 1960 was in terms of changing social attitudes was when  the chief prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, asked if it were the kind of book “you would wish your wife or servants to read“.

Much later than 1960 I found a copy of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ on the top of my dad’s wardrobe and was able to go immediately to the offending chapter because the book fell naturally open at exactly the right spot.  I suspect most of it had not been read at all but the few pages of dirty words were well thumbed and dog-eared and over the next few weeks I contributed to this by sharing it with all of mates whenever they came around to the house when my parents were out.  This all stopped when one day when the book had gone from the top of the wardrobe and although nothing was ever said I think I’d been rumbled.

One final thing about 1960 is that John, Paul, George and Ringo became the Beatles and the world of popular music would never be the same again and Russ Conway never had another number one hit!

 Facts about 1960:

 Best Film Oscar – The Apartment

FA Cup Winners – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Miss World Winner – Norma Gladys Cappalgi, Argentina

World Motor Racing Champion – Jack Brabham, Australia

World Series Champions – Pittsburg Pirates

Eurovision Song Contest Winner – Jacqueline Boyer, France