Remember when Dr. Faustus blogged about a 1941 George Orwell essay that looked in detail at the social significance of racy cartoon postcards as offered for sale on the English seaside?

Of course you do:

prominent people showing their prominent bums at the seaside

What you may not know is that in 1954 (long after Orwell’s essay), a very elderly McGill “fell foul of several local censorship committees” and was found guilty of breaking the Obscene Publications Act of 1857. Well, now word comes from Eastbourne on “a sunny seaside pier” with a 21st-update. Some things have changed (the postcards are now photographic) and some things have not (they’re still “cheeky”).

cheeky postcards from the English seaside

Another thing that hasn’t changed from the age when Orwell called these postcards “barely legal” and McGill was convicted of obscenity is that people whose lives are devoid of more important things to worry about are still offended by cheeky seaside humor. Meet Mr. Ashley Steinschauer, an assistant minister at the Elim Family Church in Eastbourne, who is proud to have filed a complaint with the local authorities that triggered a police visit to Mr. Ian Donald’s gift shop:

I was shocked to see the postcard on sale right outside the shop.

I spoke to some elderly residents in Eastbourne and their worry is that the postcards are not cartoons anymore. They are real women and that’s a huge difference.

In Brighton I could understand it, but not here in Eastbourne. It’s damaging the image of the town and making it look sleazy.

“How far down the line does it go and where does it stop? I think it shows a real shift in morality and it’s got to stop.

Fortunately, the cop “did see the funny side” and a member of the same Borough Council that sent him around now acknowledges that “the saucy postcard is a vital part of our seaside heritage.”

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