And so, England’s football team comes home. Sunday evening’s defeat in a penalty shootout at the European Championships in Ukraine followed a familiar trend where effort and determination were to the fore, but disappointment was the team’s ultimate reward. Out but not down; defeated but not beaten.
Kevin Keegan in the 1976 COI film, 'Children's Heroes'
At least, they were not beaten in the sense alleged by a previous England tour to Eastern Europe 38 years ago. Then, in June 1974, the team arrived in Belgrade from Sofia to play the Yugoslav side in a friendly (following a 1-1 draw with East Germany and a 1-0 victory over Bulgaria) but events at the airport – in what would become known as ‘the Keegan affair’ – led to some frantic diplomatic manoeuvring, the detail of which is available in a Foreign Office file available here at The National Archives (FCO 28/2657).
SD – Ahead of Hack on the Record held at The National Archives back in March – the results of which you can see on our Labs website – I discussed with colleagues in the Advice and Records Knowledge department the possibility of pitching interesting and appropriate documents or record series to the developers attending the event. One suggestion regarded the catalogue data for BT 31, a series which contains the files of dissolved companies.
BT 31 relates mostly to the period 1860 to 1930
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It’s strange and surprising what can influence record research. Last week I turned on the radio, and subsequently have had a lyric stuck in my head (‘Half of what I say is meaningless,’ as sung by John Lennon in The Beatles’ ‘Julia’). For no other reason, I decided to delve into one of the records The National Archives has relating to the most famous band the world has ever seen.
The Beatles in Japan - cover of despatch in FO 371/187127
A search on our new catalogue, Discovery, provides a number of results for The Beatles, but one in particular catches the eye: the Foreign Office record referring to the band’s 1966 trip to Tokyo (FO 371/187127).
The band arrived in Japan at the end of June 1966 on the back of a storm. Alongside the wild Beatlemania which had spread across the globe in previous years, a tropical storm delayed their arrival in Tokyo for several hours. The ‘Beatles typhoon’, as it was nicknamed, provides a neat metaphor for the band’s days in the city, as they arrived to perform five concerts in five days at the Budokan Arena.
An important part of our work in the Advice and Records Knowledge department is answering questions from the public regarding the records we hold here at The National Archives. In what we call ‘specialist referrals’ questions are filtered through to the staff member with the most appropriate specialism to answer, who will use their knowledge of the records and the context around them to respond as accurately as possible.
An enquiry came my way recently regarding the ‘Protect and Survive’ leaflets that were distributed by the government during the 1970s and 1980s in order to provide advice to members of the public should Britain be subject to a nuclear attack. I directed the enquirer towards some original documents – INF 6/2294, INF 6/2502, and INF 6/2531 – but my colleague suggested I take a look in the archive of public information films available on our website.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Central Office of Information (COI) in 2006, a selection of some of their most memorable films were added to our website. Indeed, amongst those are two made in 1975 relating to the ‘Protect and Survive’ series: one entitled ‘Action After Warnings’, the other ‘Casualties’.
Protect and Survive - public information films released in 1975
Considering the word ‘digital’ makes up one third of my job title, you might consider it an oversight to have not used it once in my last blog entry. That may be an indication of variety in work – or perhaps forgetfulness – but I will make up for that today when I consider the union and mutually-beneficial relationship between open data and the archiving of datasets.
A colleague recently asked me what a dataset is. This is not necessarily as simple a question as it may appear: I side-stepped. I think the answer really lies in the term ‘structured data’; namely that the text of an email could not necessarily be termed a dataset, but a table in a PDF, a CSV (Comma-Separated Values) file, or an XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) file could. Also, a dataset can be analysed quantitatively, and is not a collection of different electronic files, like a database. However, the discussion rages and the terminology is so uncertain that the Government has even consulted on the word itself.
‘So, what is the human heart? Simply, it is a pump. And I thought, God Almighty, as long as this pump is working a human being feels, thinks, speaks, writes, loves his family, smiles, weeps, enjoys life, gets angry, gives friendship, wins friendship, prays, dreams, remembers, forgets, forgives, influences other people, is influenced by other people – lives. But when this pump stops – no more! What a wonder in the Cosmos is this frailty of the human body, without which the mind, too, becomes still, helpless or hapless.’
Menachem Begin, 4th August, 1980.