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The movies are probably a very unsafe guide to popular taste, because the film industry is virtually a monopoly, which means that it is not obliged to study its public at all closely. ’, always given a line to itself, so that sometimes a quarter of a column or there-abouts consists of ‘Ha! The result has been to make Greyfriars and St Jim's into an extraordinary little world of their own, a world which cannot be taken seriously by anyone over fifteen, but which at any rate is not easily forgotten.The same applies to some extent to the daily papers, and most of all to the radio. Both of these extracts are entirely typical: you would find something like them in almost every chapter of every number, to-day or twenty-five years ago. ’ (stylized cries of pain) recur constantly, and so does ‘Ha! By a debasement of the Dickens technique a series of stereotyped ‘characters’ has been built up, in several cases very successfully.

Except for the daily and evening papers, the stock of these shops hardly overlaps at all with that of the big news-agents.

Their main selling line is the twopenny weekly, and the number and variety of these are almost unbelievable.

But there is no question that the combined public of the ten papers is a very large one. The ‘good’ boys are ‘good’ in the clean-living Englishman tradition — they keep in hard training, wash behind their ears, never hit below the belt etc., etc., — and by way of contrast there is a series of ‘bad’ boys, Racke, Crooke, Loder and others, whose badness consists in betting, smoking cigarettes and frequenting public-houses.

They are on sale in every town in England, and nearly every boy who reads at all goes through a phase of reading one or more of them. All these boys are constantly on the verge of expulsion, but as it would mean a change of personnel if any boy were actually expelled, no one is ever caught out in any really serious offence. Sex is completely taboo, especially in the form in which it actually arises at public schools.

Each school has a titled boy or two whose titles are constantly thrust in the reader's face; other boys have the names of well-known aristocratic families, Talbot, Manners, Lowther.

We are for ever being reminded that Gussy is the Honourable Arthur A.And the periodical proper shades off into the fourpenny novelette, the Aldine Boxing Novels, the Boys' Friend Library, the Schoolgirls' Own Library and many others. In addition, the various nicknames are rubbed in on every possible occasion.Probably the contents of these shops is the best available indication of what the mass of the English people really feels and thinks. Every few lines we are reminded that Harry Wharton & Co.You never walk far through any poor quarter in any big town without coming upon a small newsagent's shop.The general appearance of these shops is always very much the same: a few posters for the Daily Mail and the News of the World outside, a poky little window with sweet-bottles and packets of Players, and a dark interior smelling of liquorice allsorts and festooned from floor to ceiling with vilely printed twopenny papers, most of them with lurid cover-illustrations in three colours.But it does not apply to the weekly paper with a smallish circulation and specialized subject-matter. The first thing that anyone would notice is the extraordinary amount of tautology (the first of these two passages contains a hundred and twenty-five words and could be compressed into about thirty), seemingly designed to spin out the story, but actually playing its part in creating the atmosphere. Billy Bunter, for instance, must be one of the best-known figures in English fiction; for the mere number of people who know him he ranks with Sexton Blake, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and a handful of characters in Dickens.

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