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In the post-war austerity years spaces deemed 'public', such as swiming pools and parks, could be identified simply by virtue of their dispiriting listings of forbidden activities. People took comfort in the knowledge that 'on the continent' things were different. The Ealing film Passport to Pimlico, where an inner London borough declares itself part of Burgundy and instantly sheds all inhibitions to a rich public life, from rainfall to licensing laws,was based on just such a hope.


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