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JOHN WALKER/L F LAMPITT
Bluff Your Way in ... Social Climbing/Art


click to enlarge

Social Climbing
Wolfe Publishing, London, 1967
(price: 3/6; 64 pages)

click to enlarge

Art
Wolfe Publishing, London, 1967
(price: 3/6; 64 pages)



The blurb on the back:

You too can be a successful phoney.
Do you feel inferior through not knowing what is being discussed?
This bluffer's guide will help you halt the flow and sound as bright as they seem to be.


These are the seventh and eighth in a long-running series of Bluffer's Guides and - sadly - amongst the few early ones I've got. I'd like to have the Bluffer's Guide to Music, but instead I have to make do with the brief notes in Social Climbing, telling me what were the socially appropriate names to drop in 1967:

Today: Beatles, Mick Jagger, Small Faces, Walker Brothers.
Tomorrow: The Cream, Donovan, The Move, The Pink Floyd.

So much for pop singers, how about sportsmen:

Today: Donald Campbell, Graham Hill, Billy Walker.
Tomorrow: George Best, Bobby Keetch, Trevor Hockey.

Despite being intended as throwaway novelty books, these are actually fascinating time-capsules from the mid-1960s. In terms of art, this means that you get to see an early incarnation of the but-is-it-art debate, dominated still at that time by Marcel Duchamp:

Of course, as we all know, the Arts Council is - in its anxiety to be 'with it' - peculiarly susceptible to the practical joker. If that is what Duchamp is, then the joke is on us - the taxpayers.

Even better is Social Climbing with its snapshot of society in a period when the Establishment was loosening up a little (daddy-o) and allowing a few photographers, playwrights and designers to slip in through the tradesmen's entrance. Consequently you see the time-honoured rituals of 'society' starting to fall apart: advice on The Boat Race, for example - 'Rather common these days. Stay away.'

There are also some perfectly decent jokes. You're advised to attend first nights by the Royal Shakespeare Company but 'remember to be outraged by their productions', and you're warned that trying to advance in society through sex is a bad idea: 'it's likely to be a hard grind to reach the top.'


ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
4/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
2/5


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