Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sepia Saturday 19 : Mirth, Enjoyment And Something Else


One of the great things about old photographs is the opportunity they provide for micro-analysis. My Sepia Saturday photograph this week is a picture of my Uncle Frank and Auntie Miriam (the couple on the left just in front of the "Mirth" sign) in Weston-Super-Mare. The picture must have been taken in the early or mid 1930s and it features the entrance to the Grand Pier at Weston. Who the shirt-sleeved chap on the right is, I have no idea. It is one of those photographs you can examine for ever. Look at the clothes, look at the hats, look at the posters. A number of the posters advertise an exhibition featuring "the fastest car in the world", Bluebird. This will be the car with which Sir Malcolm Campbell held the world land speed record at various times between 1927 (when the record stood at 206 mph) and 1937 (by which time he had nudged it up to 301mph).

The old pier kept going right into the 21st century but was very badly damaged by fire in 2008. It is currently being rebuilt and is scheduled to re-open later this summer. With the wonders of the internet you can read the story of the death and rebirth of the pier on the pier website and even view construction work via the pier webcam. But the one question that the website can't seem to answer is about that very prominent banner that features in my photograph. It promises visitors mirth, it promises visitors enjoyment ... and it promises visitors something else : but what? The word obviously includes the letters SS but what was it? There is a prize of an old British penny (to use in the slot machines once the pier reopens) to anyone who can solve the mystery.


Note :  Over the weekend I will try and track down the glitch that is making News From Nowhere slow to load in Internet Explorer. This might mean that, at times, the blog has a strange look about it. These will be temporary changes and we should return to a more settled look before too long.

22 comments:

  1. As a Canadian, British Piers fascinate me because we have never developed anything comparable.

    I visited the Pier's website and was very impressed with the new design, although there was something charming about all the old advertisements.

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  2. This shot is deliciously full of details, Alan. I adore all those lovely cloche style hats!

    (Google Chrome certainly did the trick for me. I'm buzzing around the blogosphere in lightening speed. Thanks for the tip!)

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  3. Firefox works for me - I think it's an IE fault, not yours! (And essential for www.radarvirtuel.com - plane-tracker/volcano dust tracker.))

    The word on the left must be something ending in "SS"... unfortunate if it was "less"

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  4. "Success", why not. I have Safari on the iMac, no problem.

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  5. Alan, I'm tempted to say that 'happiness' is the missing word, but I'm not convinced it would fit.

    Would you believe the WV is eless!

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  6. Is it my imagination, or does the bloke on the right look an awful lot like our friend Tony Zimnoch? Heh, heh! Cue the Twilight Zone music.

    I'm wondering if the "SS" is the start of the name of a boat. Did they run an excursion boat or a ferry off the pier?

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  7. My guess is it promises them bliss!
    Bliss Mirth Enjoyment. The fellow on the right doesn't appear to be experiencing much of that, though. Your aunt and uncle, on the other hand, certainly look jolly! Funny how posing with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth was quite okay in those days. I have several old photographs picturing various relatives with their smoking material of choice.

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  8. this photo is chock full of marvelous details. like willow i too was drawn to the cloche hats on the kids.

    i was thinking the ss was in the middle of some word...does the prize also include with the penny an airline tix so i can come for the grand re-opening? it does seem as other readers suggestions of happiness and bliss fit nicely with the mirth and enjoyment theme!

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  9. "SS"=? (*scratches head*).er, Sepia Saturday !
    Roy!!!! I am something of a TimeLord tho'nose!

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  10. 'Mirth' and 'enjoyment' - they sound such innocent words, very much of the time.

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  11. such characters, yep I'm backing bliss or happiness, it's definitely at the 'end' of the word. We're not big on piers here either. We had them in the 20's and 30's a legacy from olde England I guess but few have been maintained. There is a lovely one in St Kilda in Melbourne.

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  12. I went to the pier website. That is going to be quite a place to see. It will be wonderful for a view and probably they will have pints somewhere for sale.

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  13. this is a great photo!

    and I love the unmirthful expresssion of the man on the right, in front of those signs...

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  14. The sign appears to be disappointingly short for it to read 'Candy Floss'....
    I am wondering what type of amusements they would provide to cover 'bliss' - the mind boggles.
    Excellent photo.

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  15. Lots of details here, and I love the irony of the less-than-mirthful look in front of those signs...

    You did see my answer about the potato???

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  16. An enticing puzzle. I too vote for bliss.

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  17. I don't believe in "bliss"... I've tried all sorts of word lengths with "ss" in Chambers' web-site and the best fit seems to be "MUSSELS"

    (Word verification ws grude... but I still reject "KISSES")

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  18. Bliss?

    Fun picture and post, Alan. It really conveys the hubbub of the pier and the time.

    Kat

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  19. Taking all things into consideration, I suspect that the answer to the conundrum is "HAPPINESS" Baino seems to have been the first to suggest the word and therefore if she lets me have an address I will post the penny off to her.

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  20. "Happiness" also occurred to me before reading the comments (May I at least have a scan of the penny?), but "bliss" would also go along with the innocent "mood" of the other two words.

    Interesting observation by Roy about TimeLord Tony. If that's not him, why else would the photographer bother to include him so prominently in the photo, for Alan to find (and share with us) years later?

    C'mon, Tony, level with us. Don't you remember what the sign said?

    (WV was "extrarav." That's why my comment included all this extra raving.)

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  21. Maybe "(Candy) Floss"?

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