RTE broadcast a very interesting Budget Day programme last Wednesday. The programme took a look at some of the more controversial budgets from the past.
Included was, what is now; a very funny and cuttingly sarcastic 1930s broadcast by the BBC Pathe News service. Against a backdrop of dramatic music and a very posh accent the announcer reports on the imposition by Ireland of tariffs on English imports.
According to Wikepedia the Pathe News service ended in 1956 but I remember it as a regular feature in the cinema from the late 1950s and into the 60s.
As I remember it the evening began with a short film then a break for advertisements and Pathe News followed by the main feature film.
The cinema was divided into three levels of ‘luxury’. Nearest to the screen was the ‘flea pit’, just a series of long wooden benches with an admission price of 6p (Old money).
The middle area had upholstered seats and cost 10p but the top, which I think had some double seats, was the ultimate for those who could afford the outrageous price of one shilling (12p).
This area was ideal for couples more interested in a bit of courtin’ rather than watching the daring deeds of Batman and Robin or the Lone Ranger.
Here’s a transcription of the BBC report but for a full appreciation I would recommend listening to the piece (8th minute).
“In many ways the Irish peasants sharing their cottage with the pig, living on potatoes, are freer than the English artisan.
The Irish outlook is always less material. Characteristically, when De Valera told the farmers that because he had stopped payment of the English annuities Britain had raised a tariff against their produce, they cheered
He had given them back their cherished grievance, England as the villain of the piece. England was the chief market for Irish produce, without English custom they might starve
But what was that against the fact that De Valera had revived the old hostility between two countries which had seemed in danger of drifting towards peace.
The Irishman is little interested in what the rest of the world calls progress. Offer him the material things of life and you may leave him unmoved. Appeal to his imagination, his soul, his sense of injustice and he is your man.”