Sorting through the detritus of the ages with which this house is full, Ailz found a couple of books of Green Shield Stamps. For those who don't remember them they were "a sales promotion or trading loyalty scheme" which started up in the 1950s. You bought goods from certain stores and they gave you stamps with your receipt. You stuck them in books and eventually traded them in for consumer durables like- I don't know- electric egg whisks. The Company that ran the scheme went out of business in 1991.
I checked on e-Bay to see if they had any value as collectables and they don't. Plenty of hopefuls are offering them for sale them but nobody is buying. And why would they?
I've had the origins of the First World War explained to me many times and I can never hold them in my head. They're not memorable- and if they're not memorable it could be because they were never sufficient. One thing I'm pretty sure of is that the web of alliances that drew in country after country wasn't the sort of thing that the man and woman in the street cares anything about. An Austrian Archduke gets shot in Sarajevo. Shame for the family and all that but otherwise, so what?
I think the real cause was something like this- that if you fill a continent with armies and navies and refrain from laughing when your leaders strut around with dead bears and tin pots on their heads sooner or later some particularly stompy individual with waxed moustaches is going to want to see if the armaments he's been sold by Mr Krupp and others actually do what it says on the tin.
Today is the 100th anniversary of Britain's entry into the War. The powers-that-be want us to turn our house lights off at 10.00 this evening in reference to something the particularly incompetent Home Secretary of the day is supposed to have said at the time. Well,they would, wouldn't they? he was one of them: short on the negotiating skills, always ready with a Virgilian one-liner.
And there you see the benefits of a classical education!