Saturday, 27 March 2010
In and out of books
I like tangents, book ephemera and social history - I think that's why reading children's fiction of the 1930s onwards really appeals to me. I want to know about tuck boxes, attache cases and changing shoes and hats in seasons and buildings. An interesting little newspaper cutting today told me about a range of tuck boxes available to order. Now, my impression from reading rather too many school stories was that either a loving family cook put together a fabulous strongbox of treats, or (if your mother were rich and indulgent) you had the pleasure of stockpiling a term's provisions from Fortnum's food hall. I don't know how some of you feel about the selfish glamour-girl mother in Saplings (Noel Streatfeild), but she does do treats with style. Anyway, this short advertisement gave three tuck box models. The gold-standard (20s) includes tinned pineapple, two types of cake and two varieties of biscuits along with 'glasses' of preserved meat. Very Blyton. The only thing missing is the name of the company. It just tells me that 'carriage' is paid, so I expect your box would have arrived safely at school along with your trunk for the start of term. Assuming anyone else does read this, do you have any experience or knowledge of tuck boxes and their contents? I don't think I could have kept a frog in mind, but Roald Dahl's schoolmates did have other priorities.