Stop telling me to keep calm, this bandwagon is over

Opinion - Alan Dee
Opinion - Alan Dee

I’m going to try and keep this buttoned down, but this particular subject seems to be calculated to get areas under my collar overheated in short order.

So, deep breath, count to ten, think about cool wet grass...ready? OK, here we are go.

Please, please, stop telling me to keep calm.

I don’t need your sage advice that the best thing to do in the circumstances would be to put panic to one side and carry on.

And I especially don’t want to be assailed with this modish motto from the window of one of those shops crammed with useless bits of tat priced at just about what you’re prepared to pay for a birthday present if you don’t really know the recipient very well.

So can we agree that the Keep Calm bandwagon has run out of fuel, been steered into a layby and stripped of its tyres and all other moving parts?

Here’s a bit of a history lesson. Everyone seems to think that the iconic Keep Calm poster was a fixture on public noticeboards throughout all that unpleasantness from 1939 to 1945, and played a major part in maintaining plucky British morale as we battled through to eventual victory.

The slogan was then rediscovered just as the world’s economy went to hell in a handcart, and was picked up to help bolster the public mood and made everyone feel a lot better about things. Er, no.

Admittedly more than two million Keep Calm posters were printed at the beginning of hostilities, but they were only ever intended to be distributed in the event of a major disaster, and never saw the light of day. Apparently the bureaucrats of the day thought that the Blitz would just blow over and were waiting for something really serious before wheeling out their big guns on the public reassurance front. It wasn’t meant to be a morale-builder, more a health and safety instruction.

When the poster was rediscovered and started to circulate– nearly 10 years before the financial crash, as you ask – it was a momentarily charming period piece.

But as soon as the design began to be adapted onto cups, trays, shirts, and other bits of tat, the writing was on the wall. And when the slogan itself was modified – Keep Calm And Party On, Keep Calm And Eat Cupcakes – it really started to annoy me.

Of course, adopting some wartime practices could bring benefits. If we all volunteered to follow a wartime diet, to ration levels, we’d not only cut our food bills substantially but we’d quickly take a big chunk out of the national obesity crisis.

But no, we’d much rather spend what little cash we have on cutesy trays urging us to fill our faces with sugary cakes. No wonder this whole Keep Calm circus is getting on my wick.