Even by the third week of July 1914 there is little discussion in Britain of the impending crisis looming in Europe.
Austria-Hungary, we now know, have been having secret talks with Germany over how to re-establish their political credentials by taking on and humiliating their smaller neighbour Serbia over the assassination of the empire’s heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Germany, it now appears, has been egging on Austria-Hungary and is prepared to back them with military force against Russia, who is likely to be pulled into a conflict because of their treaty support for Serbia.
Britain though is unconcerned, so unconcerned that it isn’t until July 24 that the Cabinet even discusses foreign affairs of any kind.
That’s why there is no hint of the impending war – a mere 14 days after the publication of the July 21 edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser.
Instead the ‘silly season’ of summer newspapers continues and there is little of interest to pick out for the 21st century reader.
Cricket results dominate the back page with Market Harborough walloping Egerton Park – bowler Newcombe (9 for 21) and opening batsman F C W Newman (93) grabbing the headlines. Stoke Albany and Dingley were local sides left licking their wounds: the entire Stoke Albany scored only 12 runs as they were crushed by Desborough 2nd XI and Dingley fared even worse, scoring only eight runs in total as they were soundly beaten by Great Bowden.
The Advertiser again reveals the tabloid tendencies of its readers by including more stories from around the country that aim to shock. ‘A jealous lover’s revenge: Terrorises sweetheart and cuts off her hair’ is a court report from Hants Quarter Sessions that is sure to catch the eye of both male and female readers.
A young gardener Percy Chambers was distraught when he caught his ‘sweetheart’ Miss Jane Willis returning from a bicycle ride with a soldier. The following evening Chambers went to her house and forced her into the coal shed and cut off her hair close to her head’.
The paper reports, ‘I knew I could not hurt her feelings by striking her,’ he said afterwards. ‘I thought I would hurt her by cutting her hair.’
The paper continues, ‘As she had wounded his feelings he thought he would revenge himself by wounding her vanity.’
Chambers was fined £10 even though ‘the court thought that he had great provocation and that the young woman had behaved very badly.’
Another tabloid headline proclaims, ‘Frightened by a dog: Unusual cause of little girl’s death’. The Marylebone Coroner’s Court heard that a two-year-old girl was playing in her front garden when she called out: ‘Mummie, mummie, here’s a naughty dog!’
The little girl’s mother ran out to find her daughter ‘in a fit’. The coroner said the girl had an ‘extraordinarily enlarged thyroid gland…and death was due to heart failure accelerated by the fright’ of the dog.
Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.