Episode 74: Pockets

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018


‘Wear your learning like your watch, in a private pocket’.  (Lord Chesterfield). Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where you will discover the history of things you did not know even had a history, like the history of dust, or the history of snow.

For this episode let us join the magus of ages Professor James Daybell, and the Admiral of the archives Dr Sam Willis as they filch and pilfer their way through the ages to bring you the unexpected history of pockets.

Our two intrepid time travellers will burn a hole through the pockets of space on an unexpected journey from women’s suffrage and the Rational Dress Society of 1881 to the beer pockets of 1910 suits, from William Powell Frith’s ‘The Derby Day’ of 1856-1858 to William Carlisle’s Old Bailey Proceedings (1717), and from Herman Melville’s brilliant American novel Moby Dick (1851) to James Dean’s ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ and 1950s American pop culture.

James and Sam will dig deep through the pockets of ages to discover that this unexpected history is actually all about: gender and power, restriction and privacy, memories and archive, repositories and convenience, crime and corruption, freedom and emancipation.

Keep an ear open for just what the well dressed man of court in the sixteenth century kept in his codpiece.

‘You’ve got to pick a pocket or two – Boys!’ (Lionel Bart, Oliver! 1960)

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