When it comes to the pinch

Was thinking about this Orwell quote:

When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.

did my Google legwork, and found it came from an essay about the postcard artist Donald McGill.  Here’s more:

Society has always to demand a little more from human beings than it will get in practice.  It has to demand faultless discipline and self-sacrifice, it must expect its subjects to work hard, pay their taxes, and be faithful to their wives, it must assume that men think it glorious to die on the battlefield and women want to wear themselves out with child-bearing.  The whole of what one may call official literature is founded on such assumptions.  I never read the proclamations of generals before battle, the speeches of fuhrers and prime ministers, the solidarity songs of public schools and Left Wing political parties, national anthems, Temperance tracts, papal encyclicals and sermons against gambling and contraception, without seeming to hear in the background a chorus of raspberries from all the millions of common men to whom these high sentiments make no appeal.  Nevertheless the high sentiments always win in the end, leaders who offer blood, toil, tears, and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time.  When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.  Women face childbed and the scrubbing brush, revolutionaries keep their mouths shut in the torture chamber, battleships go down with their guns still firing when their decks are awash.  It is only that the other element in man, the lazy, cowardly, debt-bilking adulterer who is inside all of us, can never be suppressed altogether and needs a hearing occasionally.

The comic post cards are one expression of his point of view…

The whole essay is a terrific thing to read about life and comedy, we trust most HelyTimes readers will savor that over the weekend.  For Friday, let’s enjoy this McGill postcard, which was apparently listed in the 1973 Guinness book as the most sold postcard ever:

McGill was born in London in 1875. He lost a foot in a school rugby accident…

Approaching 80, McGill fell foul of several local censorship committees which culminated in a major trial inLincoln on 15 July 1954 for breaking the Obscene Publications Act 1857. He was found guilty and fined £50 with £25 costs. The wider result was a devastating blow to the saucy postcard industry.

(found those here thanks to a tumblr search)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.