Stand Up and Cheer

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The Guardian describes a recently recovered chapter of Northern Ireland's history:

Papers from 1975, released today, reveal proposals for a "Brighten up Ulster" campaign designed to put a smile back on people's faces in the wake of a disastrous 1974, during which the devolved government collapsed after a general strike organised by loyalists, the IRA bombed Birmingham pubs, and more than 300 people were killed in Northern Ireland.

One suggestion for raising spirits made by the chairman of the government's Information Policy Coordinating Committee was to see Britain's favourite comedy double act perform their trademark Bring Me Sunshine dance routine on the lawns of Stormont.

In a letter to committee members on March 18 1975, just over a month after the IRA declared an indefinite ceasefire, Michael Cudlipp stressed the need to "think really big" in organising a campaign of "morale-boosting" events. "Why not have big variety stars?" he asked, suggesting Morecambe and Wise, who were then at the peak of their careers, and who he hoped could be persuaded to "give their services for more or less free as part of an attempt to boost Ulster"….

Other ideas for themed events included a "Miss Good Cheer" beauty pageant, a special "Sociable Week" with the message "Don't Let's Be Downhearted" in which Rotary Clubs and the Women's Institute could run "Good Cheer conferences". One committee member wrote: "The theme tune of the effort could be based on the song 'Pick Yourself up, Dust yourself down, start all over again.'"

NEXT: Listen to Me

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  1. “Ve have vays of making you happy…”

  2. Good find. I think if we could get the Iraqis to sing that song in some sort of “Hands Across Iraq” event, it really could turn things around over there.

  3. What, no “Knees up, Mother Brown”?

  4. We’re Americans, by God, and I want to see all the Iraqis singing/whistling “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.
    Oh, and now try to get it out of your head 🙂

  5. That was easy. But now I’m hearing the theme to Titanic.
    Thanks a lot.

  6. How did they leave out Stinky Wizzleteats’ Happy Happy Joy Joy song?

  7. I know, gang! Let’s perform a musical of Babbitt!

  8. “i’ll teach you to be happy. i’ll teach your grandmother to suck eggs”

  9. Some things in life are bad
    They can really make you mad
    Other things just make you swear and curse.
    When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
    Don’t grumble, give a whistle
    And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

    If life seems jolly rotten
    There’s something you’ve forgotten
    And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
    When you’re feeling in the dumps
    Don’t be silly chumps
    Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

  10. I think the main reason the FOIA restrictions on national security matters are set at 30 years is so that the people involved in eminently mockable idiocies will be safely dead when the papers are opened…

    (It must be rather a pain for historians of the recent past, however. Most of the documents that I examined during a recent trip to the National Archives in London were also under the 30-year restriction – Admiralty financials, diplomatic correspondence, etc; fortunately, the newest one was from 1590.)

  11. I suppose Mickey Rooney would have been a poor choice to send over and help spread a little cheer, I think that was during his dark years.
    Still, the whole thing does have a kind of Andy Hardy feeling about it.

  12. “Let’s bolster Ulster!”

  13. By the way, if the Scottish independence movement ever heats up and is violently put down by the Hanoverian regime of England, when the time comes to smooth things over I also have a “It’s getting better here in Edinburgh!” slogan all ready to roll out.

  14. Did they call this “The Proposal What I Wrote”?

    – Josh, going very British indeed

  15. Pick yourself out, dust yourself down, and pull those nails out of your ass.

  16. Was there anything about the ’70s worth remembering? I mean, other than my high school graduation, which come to think of it I don’t remember so well either.

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