Two weeks ago, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a fascinating programme on SOS messages, presented by Eddie Mair. When I was a child, SOS messages were a regular feature of news programmes. They were usually something like: "And now here is an SOS message for Joseph Peter Bloggs. Will Joseph Peter Bloggs, believed to be working in the Stockport area, go at once to Ambridge General Hospital, where his mother, Mrs Ethel Mary Bloggs, is dangerously ill." In an era when mobile phones had not been dreamt of and many households didn't have access to a phone, such messages were often the only way to get a message quickly to absent members of the family.
The programme reminded me of an ad for Sylvan soap flakes that I saw in a knitting magazine from 1946. At that time, even though the war was over, most things were still rationed and in short supply - clothes rationing for instance went on until 1949.
The ad is completely incomprehensible, if you don't know about SOS messages. It also helps if your mother always told you to make sure that your underwear was in a respectable state, in case you got knocked down by a car and taken to hospital in an ambulance, and people would see.
Since the radio is announcing "Here is a police message", I think this is a variant of the SOS message, put out following a road accident to appeal for witnesses.
In case you can't read the dialogue easily, Girl A says "Turn it off!" and Girl B says "But darling, it might be someone we know." (The two young women are evidently expecting that the names of people injured in the accident will be given out.)
A: "I don't care. I always think it might have been me and I start worrying about my undies."
B: "But you used to have such dainty ones."
A: "I still have. But I simply daren't wear them. However could I get them washed?"
And Girl B goes on to advise her to use Sylvan Flakes, and tells her how to get them.
But the obvious question is, if she wasn't wearing her "dainty undies", what was she wearing?