Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Flights Of Fancy


I bought a job lot of old photographs off eBay the other day intending to put them away so there would be something to amuse me on cold winter evenings. The problem is that I can't resist dipping into the drawer where they are kept to see what delights they offer. I am not expecting to find anything rare or anything valuable, nor am expecting to find photographs of people or places I recognise. Equally, I don't expect to solve any great mysteries by reuniting Jocelyn Trumpington-Baxter to his long lost third cousin Cedric. My love of old photographs is a quixotic affair designed to launch nothing more substantial than the occasional flight of fancy.

Take this Cabinet Card of three men taken in the London studios of J C Grey. I have no idea who they are but, from the style of dress, I would guess that the photograph was taken in the very first years of the twentieth century. The pose is slightly odd, with two of the young men (surely brothers) looking straight into the camera whilst the third (an older brother or maybe even the father) appearing in profile and looking off to the left of the photographer. Whilst the two younger men are in sharp focus the older man appears slightly blurred. At first I thought the third figure had been "burnt in" (photographers sometimes did this to artificially reunite family members) but this does not seem to be the case here (the aspidistra leaf comes in front of the jacket my dear Watson!)

My fancy is in full flight now and circling around the concept of relationships between fathers and brothers. By pure coincidence I am currently listening to the complete Audiobook version of Edward Kennedy's True Compass whilst I drag poor Amy on her daily walks around the mean streets of West Yorkshire. So now I am looking at a photograph of Joe Kennedy looking suitably stern and maybe Jack and Bobby looking so full of potential and possibilities. And then it is my father with me and my brother : my brother looking serious, me looking slightly lost and my father looking to see if the bus is coming.

It is probably better to keep such fanciful flights to myself. Better still, I will keep the old photographs hidden away until those cold winter nights come along.

14 comments:

  1. Good Day Alan, How delightful to have a new lot of photos to ponder over! This is an interesting picture. The two young men certainly look like brothers to me also.

    I hope you and Amy enjoy your walk today. I will be anxious to see more of your photos.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Please don't wait until the winter before allowing yourself (and us) to indulge in a few flights of fancy.

    Great post, Alan. These characters always look so determined, to me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have given a new value to old lost picks and to my attention.I used to wonder what they were good for now I read how they inspire imagination,history and more. How cool is that??Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wonderful card, with that peculiar pose. Perhaps the photographer was trying to be artistic. In any case, I didn't know that photographers sometimes burnt in missing family members - fascinating. I now feel inspired to burn Genghis Khan into all of my family pictures (I'm sure we're related somehow.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. It is an unusual pose I must admit, then there's always someone who mucks up a family portrait! Haha like the idea of you being lost and your father looking to see if the bus is coming. All wearing flat caps and holding your bikes. Stereotypical I know, I'm tragic that way.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I bought several nice CDVs last week when I was out antiquing with my daughter. I'll have to do some investigating and post them once in a while!

    (Sorry, Alan, you have to be my friend whether you like tomatoes and onions, or not!) xx

    ReplyDelete
  7. Vanity, my dear Alan, is responsible for the odd position of the third gentleman. Were he facing the camera, he'd merely be one of three. But in 3/4 profile, he stands out. Sets himself apart. Also notice his hand resting on the books. Perhaps to indicate he's a scholar and the other two are not?

    Yes, please don't wait until winter to share more gems from this collection!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, perhaps it was vanity that turned the head of the older man. And you are right JamaGenie to draw our attention to the book. But could he be forcing the book closed with his fist? Here I go again on another flight of fancy.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A nice meander. Will we get to see the photo of your brother, you and your Father looking for the bus? -J

    ReplyDelete
  10. The Joy Of Old Photographs!
    Alan, Have You seen "vintagephoto" ? Some Treasures To Be Found!

    ReplyDelete
  11. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the photo was that these were two students and their tutor, the two students being brothers maybe, and about to head off to Oxford or Cambridge, and this was their farewell photo with the fellow who'd prepared them for this move.

    More idle speculation for your amusement. Heh, heh.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You're such a keen observer--marvelous point about the leaf!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a great hobby! One that I would enjoy doing someday! Please share more!
    :) The Bach

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love looking at old photos. I echo others in not wanting to wait long to see the rest of yours.

    ReplyDelete