Upstairs, Downstairs

The original Upstairs Downstairs that aired in the 1970s follows the Bellamy family and their servants at 165 Eaton Place. Although the house is run by a member of Parliament and his socialite wife, the show gives the downstairs characters their due with rich storylines and characterizations.

The fifth and final season is set between 1919 and 1930 and works real-life events into the story such as the post-war recovery and the 1926 general strike.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Phryne Fisher is a woman of many talents. She can fly a plane, drive a car, speak a million languages, and even wear trousers on occasion. She is also a formidable private detective who solves all manner of crimes in 1920s Melbourne, with the help of her maid Dot and detectives Jack Robinson and Hugh Collins.

Phryne might appear frivolous, but her priority has always been to bring justice for those who can’t help themselves. The show has been described as great fun, with a strong, independent, and inspiring female lead whose wardrobe many fashionistas will covet.

Notable Books of the Twenties: Passing – Nella Larsen (1929)

Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)

Passing is not just about a black woman who lives her life ‘passing’ as a white woman. It’s also about secrecy and hypocrisy and the universally human fear of being ‘found out’. It was a very important book of the time, when conversations about race, class and gender were beginning to open up, despite prejudice still seeming, to many, a stone-set human right.

The story follows Irene and Clare, two mixed-race friends who reunite in a Chicago hotel after years of not seeing each other. Clare, Irene learns, has been living as a white woman with a racist husband who has no idea of his wife’s background. Clare, on the other hand, remained in the African-American community but refuses to acknowledge the racism that holds back her family’s happiness. They soon become consumed by the other’s chosen path – until events conspire to make them confront their lies.

Notable Books of the Twenties: All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

All Quiet on the Western Front was a ground-breaking book that changed how the world saw the First World War. There is little glory to be found in it: war is hell, no matter what side you’re on. And Remarque’s remarkably humane account of life in the German trenches during the early days of the Western Front showed the English-speaking world, for the first time, what it was like for the soldiers who lived in the same mud but spilled different blood from the other side of the barbed wire.

Remarque became one of the most articulate spokesmen for his generation, one that, in his words, was ‘destroyed by war, even though it might have escaped its shells.’ It is widely thought to be one of the greatest books about the experiences of war ever written.

Notable Books of the Twenties: Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence (1928)

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (1928)

Lady Chatterley’s Lover was the book that shattered British squeamishness about sex into pieces (institutionally, at least). Telling the story of an affair between a young, married aristocrat and her also-married gamekeeper, it became notorious for its graphic descriptions of sex and seductive language, four-letter words and other forms of nighttime naughtiness (though it doesn’t always happen after dark, here).

It was first published privately in Florence, then in France, but was not released in Britain for a full 32 years after DH Lawrence wrote it, following a landmark obscenity trial that became one of the most important cases in British literary and social history. It has since been anointed a ‘sacred text’ for British democracy and freedom of expression.

Let’s Misbehave – Cole Porter (1927)

You could have a great career,
And you should;
Yes you should;
Only one thing stops you dear:
You’re too good;
Way too good!

If you want a future, darlin’,
Why don’t you get a past?
‘Cause that fatal moment’s comin’ at last…

We’re all alone, no chaperone
Can get our number
The world’s in slumber
Let’s misbehave!!!

There’s something wild about you child
That’s so contagious
Let’s be outrageous
Let’s misbehave!!!

When Adam won Eve’s hand
He wouldn’t stand for teasin’.
He didn’t care about those apples out of season.

They say that Spring
means just one thing to little lovebirds
We’re not above birds
Let’s misbehave!!!

It’s getting late and while I wait
My poor heart aches on
Why keep the brakes on?
Let’s misbehave!!!

I feel quite sure un peu d’amour
Would be attractive
While we’re still active,
Let’s misbehave!

You know my heart is true
And you say you for me care…
Somebody’s sure to tell,
But what the hell do we care?

They say that bears have love affairs
And even camels
We’re merely mammals
Let’s misbehave!!!

If you would be just sweet
And only meet your fate, dear,
‘Twould be the great event
Of nineteen twenty-eight, Dear.

Notable Books of the Twenties: The Weary Blues – Langston Hughes (1926)

The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes (1926)

The Weary Blues was the most important book by the Harlem Renaissance’s most famous author. Hughes rose to fame fast and furiously amid a cultural movement that marked the first time in US history that white America began to pay attention to African American literature. And with this collection of poems, he – alongside a handful of others – gave voice to a generation.

With his masterful use of language, tone and rhythms of jazz and blues music of the time, he spoke personally and powerfully to the experiences of Black Americans. While the titular The Weary Blues (included in poetry anthology Blues Poems) is his most famous poem, it is Our Land that contains one of the most memorable lines in 20th-century literature: “I, too, am America.”

“Petting Parties” of the Twenties

To some social observers, petting parties of the 1920s were a natural, post-First World War outgrowth of a repressed society. To others, the out-in-the-open hug-and-kissfests were blinking neon signposts on the Road to Perdition.

“Petting parties varied quite a lot,” says Paula S. Fass, professor emerita of history at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s. “But certainly there were parties where young people did quite a lot of erotic exploration — kissing and fondling. These parties always stopped before intercourse. In that sense they had imposed limitations created by the group presence. They were not orgies and they were not promiscuous — one set of partners only.”

Petting parties, Fass explains, “allowed young people to experiment in a self-limiting way by creating peer regulation that both encouraged experimentation and created clear limits.”

One of the earliest mentions of the scandalous soirees was a Washington Times story from New Year’s Eve 1915. “Did you ever hear of ‘petting parties’?” the reporter asked. “That, they tell me, is the name applied in Baltimore to the haunters of cosy corners and ‘twosing’ in general.”

Over the next few years the ritual spread. Petting parties grew so popular they became targets of societal safeguardians who believed the make-out mania was tearing apart the social fabric.

Speaking to 1,500 students at Wellesley College in 1921, Mrs. Augustus Trowbridge — the wife of a Princeton professor — railed against “the vulgarity and revolting badness of petting parties.” She said that the loose-moraled gatherings — along with jazz music, unchaperoned dancing and lipstick — were symptomatic of a decadent society, the Coshocton, Ohio, Tribune reported on Jan. 13.

Soon the lovey-dovey wingdings were popping up all across the country. Southerners sometimes called them necking parties. They were called mushing parties in the West; fussing parties in the Midwest and spooning everywhere, the United Press noted later in 1921. Eventually some flappers began referring to party-petting as snugglepupping.

By some, young women were seen as getting out of hand. The conservative League of American Women was formed in New York to exercise, as the New York Evening World termed it, “stricter censorship over the activities and habits of the younger set.”

The powerful Women’s Christian Temperance Union also weighed in on — and inveighed against — petting parties and cigarette-smoking by girls, the Gettysburg, Pa., Times reported.

In Atlantic City, N.J., beach cops were instructed to throw ice water on seaside petting parties, the Wilmington, N.C., Morning Star observed on July 31, 1921. In Pittsburgh, 15 couples were fined for spooning, the Reading Times noted on Aug. 16, 1921.

Source: NPR

Blue Skies – Josephine Baker (1927)

I was blue, just as blue as I could be
Ev’ry day was a cloudy day for me
Then good luck came a-knocking at my door
Skies were gray but they’re not gray anymore

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Bluebirds
Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my how they fly

Blue days
All of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
From now on

I should care if the wind blows east or west
I should fret if the worst looks like the best
I should mind if they say it can’t be true
I should smile, that’s exactly what I do

Aba Daba Honeymoon – Helen Kane

“Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Said the chimpie to the monk
“Baba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Said the monkey to the chimp

All night long they’d chatter away
All day long there were happy and gay
Swinging and singing in their hunky tonky way

“Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Means ‘Monk, I love but you’
‘Baba, daba, dab’ in monkey talk
Means ‘Chimp, I love you, too’

Then the big baboon one night in June
He married them and very soon
Since they came from their aba daba honeymoon

Way down in the Congoland
Lived a happy chimpanzee
She loved a monkey with long tail
(Lordy, how she loved him)

Each night he would find her there
Swinging in the coconut tree
And the monkey gay at the break of day
Loved to hear his chimpie say

“Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Said the chimpie to the monk
“Baba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Said the monkey to the chimp

All night long they’d chatter away
All day long there were happy and gay
Swinging and singing in their hunky tonky way

“Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab”
Means ‘Monk, I love but you’
‘Baba, daba, dab’ in monkey talk
Means ‘Chimp, I love you, too’

One night they were made man and wife
And now they cry, “This is the life”
Since they came from their aba daba honey-

Aba, daba, daba

Aba, daba honeymoon