OldCiren - Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
I was reading recently that up the road in Bristol, Revisionists are removing references to the City’s links with Slavery. Signs, names and references can be changed, what can’t be removed are the historical facts that in the 17th Century behaviours, attitudes and views about what was morally right and what was acceptable were very different to what they are today. But it wasn’t that long ago and well within the living memory of many readers, that Slavery (and racism) were viewed in a much less pejorative way than today. In 1976 for example, Ciren celebrated the Centenary of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee with a series of “Imperial” themed floats featuring locals blacked up as ersatz slaves and lorded over White Ciren Men wearing pith helmets. Slavery was abolished quite early in Victoria’s reign (1833) but 1976 zeitgeist was such that it was felt to be amusing to select from this earlier period in history. In the 1970’s, populist views were informed mainly by TV which regularly featured Racist Sitcoms such as “Love thy Neighbour” 1972-1976; “Till Death us Do Part” 1965 to 1992 and the Black and White Minstrel show which had an audience each week of around 21 Million viewers.
When I was growing up I cant remember meeting anyone who came from much further away from Ciren than the County boundaries, (or Swindon.) It was unusual in fact to see anyone in Town that hadn’t either been born there, or was visiting a relative. Conversely, unless you had seen war service overseas, not many Ciren people (and certainly none that I knew) had ever ventured much further than Weymouth for a weeks holiday. I didn’t start travelling abroad until Clarkson’s started selling cheap foreign package holidays to Spain in the late 60’s and until then, my exposure to people from different races and Cultures was what I saw on TV and depicted on the Ciren Carnival floats.