Intervention – “F**k the Cupcake Revolution! David Cameron, Samuel Smiles, and the Geographies of Neo-Victorian Thrift”

Alison HulmeAlison Hulme

The homemade poster was clearly visible in the window of a first floor flat as I sat on the top deck of the 185 bus that was jerking its way up Camberwell New Road in South London. It read ‘F**k the Cupcake Revolution. Don’t stay calm. Get angry!’ Retro renditions of the wartime tagline ‘keep calm and carry on’ are in plentiful supply under the current UK austerity. Mugs incite us to ‘keep calm and have a brew’; toilet lids to ‘keep calm and take a seat’; cushions to ‘keep calm and take a nap’. They draw upon a cultural memory of wartime government campaigns, such as ‘digging for victory’ or ‘make-do-and-mend’,[1] that aimed to drive down the consumptive needs of the population in order that rationing might be workable. They are part of a resurgence in the popularity of nostalgic ideas of home-making and simplicity that…

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