Posters from the nanny state
liberty, Equality … Nanny? The democratic principles of freedom have always conflicted with the state’s notion that it might just know best. In post-war England, hassling citizens reached something of an apotheosis. Before the internet and television, the best way to get a message across was on a poster; and a new book, Keep Britain Tidy:And Other Posters From the Nanny State (Thames & Hudson), collects the finger-wagging injunctions of the era. Half nostalgia-inducing, half annoying, but always quite beautiful, the posters evoke a world in which people sneeze all over each other and never pick up after themselves, and spies could be listening to your every utterance. There are also countless injunctions to wash your hands,wear a helmet, and look after your smile. Judging by the stereotypes about English teeth, the last one didn’t quite work out.
Clockwise from top ‘Keep Our Secrets Secret’, 1965,Reginald Mount and Eileen Evans,issued by HM Government;‘Yes I Smoke!’, 1963, Reginald Mount, Ministry of Health; ‘Keep Britain Tidy’, 1962,Hans Unger, Ministry of Housing.