Keep Calm and Carry On

A wonderfully British sentiment, “keep calm and carry on” was a WWII rallying cry to all Britons.

It was originally produced by the government's then Ministry of Information and formulated onto posters. It was then plastered by the famous Bill Stickers all over London in an effort to raise national morale, stiffen the upper lip and so forth at a time when the war wasn’t going so well and we were 2-0 down to Hitler at half time.

Personally, when things are going pear-shaped, “keep calm and carry on” is to my way of thinking a masterpiece of British understatement, not to mention under-estimation of effort.

It might apply to situations where one has just missed the bus or there is a power cut but when some cheap politician, funded by American and British banking interests has built himself a war machine and is busy plundering Europe in an effort to pay off his loans, “keep calm and carry on” does not, to my way of thinking, quite cut it.

I would have thought something along the lines of “now we are really cheesed off and are going to smash the loony bastard’s face in” would be more apt. But that’s just me.

Be all that as it may, 70 years on, the famous national slogan has in recent years become an icon as it appears on mugs, posters, books and other merchandise all over eBay and other cultural centres.

It has also become the subject of a long-running copyright dispute, having been trademarked by an entrepreneur who claims a monopoly on the famous phrase and is litigating to prevent anyone else from repeating it.

The businessman in question, having failed to secure the coveted copyrights to that little bit of national heritage in the UK, turned to that bastion and stalwart of British tradition, the European Union, which obligingly granted him the rights of ownership he sought.

So, if I understand it correctly, the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” is now the property of the aforementioned business person who, in the finest tradition of extracting from the human community more wealth than one puts into it, wants other people to pay for the privilege of using it.

You may have your own opinion as to the ethics and good taste of copyrighting a common phrase and well-known slogan and charging other people for using it but there is no denying that it is pretty darn shrewd.

My sources tell me that this has alerted lots of people who can’t think of anything useful to do in order to become rich to the opportunity to make lots of money by copyrighting common words and phrases. A number of people have jumped on the copyright bandwagon as it trundles in the general direction of Eldorado.

Here then are some more common British phrases that have recently been copyrighted through application to the Ministry of Daft Ideas in Brussels.

“Labour Isn’t Working” for example has been copyrighted by the Labour Party and they will henceforth charge the Tories large sums of money for using it (although some would argue that the Tories have paid a high enough price for it already).

Not wanting to be left out, I have myself managed to secure the copyright on the following British favourites and God help anyone who uses them without first getting my permission and paying me large sums of money.

  1. “Just ignore them dear and they will go away.”
  2. “Kilroy woz ere.”
  3. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist.”
  4. “I’m with Stupid.”
  5. “You don’t have to be mad to work here but it helps.”
  6. “How much?”
  7. “Sorry.”
  8. “Nice one Cyril.”
  9. “You must think I was born yesterday.”
  10. “I must want me ruddy head examined.”
  11. “I don’t want to make a fuss but . . .”
  12. “It’s all the fault of those immigrants.”
  13. “Somebody should do something.”
  14. “You’re having a bleedin’ laugh aincha?”
  15. “We’ve been right royally shafted.”
Now that should make me a bob or two. I tried to get the copyright on the entire English language but found the French already have an application pending and they plan to sell the rights to the Americans.

Steve Cook is the author of Genghis Kant, a tongue-in-cheek sci fi spoof. See a current newspaper review here. Visit the Genghis Kant on Facebook for a free copy of Steve's latest story "Spilt Milk" of which one reader said: “Loved the Spilt Milk story. Loved the characters and how it all linked together.”