Friday, September 25, 2020

Harry Moore, Sammy Davis Junior, And Me

 


I'm a great believer in pointlessness. To have the luxury of allowing your mind to wander down thought paths with the freedom and irrelevance of a distracted fruit fly is one of the great joys of life. It may have curtailed my academic achievements as a youth, but it enriches my old age. The other day I was pointlessly scanning some old 35mm colour slides - photographs I took in the 1960s - when I came across this photograph of my Uncle Harry. I have written about Uncle Harry in his youth before - don't ask me where, pointlessness is a soul mate of chaos - but this is a photograph of Harry Moore in his sixties. In his youth, Harry had, for a time, been a professional entertainer, touring the country with a seaside entertainment group, the Silhouette Concert Party, like a character out of a J B Priestley novel. In his thirties, he had settled down, married my fathers' sister, and taken a job as a clerk in a coal merchant's office in Bradford.

Entertainment was in his soul, however, and he continued to play in the pubs and clubs of West Yorkshire on a part-time basis. For a long period, in the 1960s, he was part of the resident backing group at the Engineers Club in Bradford: Harry and Jeff - Harry on the piano, and Jeff on drums.


That was the start of my pointless meanderings and before too long I was searching through the archives of The Stage (newspaper archives are a Mecca for pointless people), looking for references to him. I tracked him down eventually in a copy of The Stage from the 7th September 1961. There he is listed under "Calls For Next Week" as appearing at the Bradford Engineers Club. He shares the page with the likes of Harry Seacombe, Sammy Davis Jr, Anthony Newley, Charlie Drake and Bruce Forsyth (all of whom, it has to be admitted, were not lucky enough to make it to the Bradford Engineers).

So far, so good; but this is where pointlessness steps in again, because once you have downloaded a sixty year old copy of The Stage, it would be criminal not to wander off down its columns, reading this, that, and the other. Did you know, for example, the Australian stage version of Suzie Wong lost £32,000 in the first nine months of 1961 alone? Can you believe that Elvis Presley had turned down £89,000 for a 40 minute performance at the Earlswood Jazz Festival?

The list goes on ... there are 20 pages in this one issue of the newspaper. If I am supposed to be meeting you later on today, or even sometime this weekend, forget it. I am distracted. I am lost in my own pointlessness.

Footfall Replacing Fishermen


During the early 1980s, I would occasionally go to meetings in Hull, and, determined to make the best of my visits, I would explore the city which was, quite literally, at the end of the line from where I was living in Sheffield. At that time, the docks still crept into the city centre like reminders of a vibrant seafaring past. Soon they would be filled with shiny shopping centres - footfall replacing fishermen - which were more colourful but spoiled some of the views of the fine buildings of the city.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Halifax As It Was

 

HALIFAX FROM NORTH BRIDGE (1968)

Looking back at this photograph I must have taken sometime around 1968, it has a staged feeling to it, as though it has been carefully posed as an album cover for a Champion Jack Dupree LP. It wasn't staged, however, nor were the colour tampered with. This was Halifax as it was, caught midway between old railway lines and new flyovers, cooling towers and leisure centres, scrapyards and supermarkets.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Bowling Along Through Halifax



The ability of old photographs to spark memories never ceases to amaze me. I tracked down this old colour slide yesterday after someone, quite rightly, pointed out that what was set on top of the bowling alley in Broad Street, Halifax in the 1960s, was not a bowl, as I had stated, but a bowling pin. In my defence, I have to say that it was not my memory, but my nomenclature that was at fault. I knew I had taken a photograph of the building along with its pin at some stage in the 1960s, and I eventually tracked it down. 

When I looked closely at the photograph, however, it was the bus stop that really set my brain synapses firing. I’d forgotten all about that bus stop. It was the stop that I would run to if I arrived at the bus station (just out of picture on the left) as my bus was leaving. If you were swift – and back then I was swift – you could make it to the next stop in Broad Street before the bus did. If, once again, you were a little too late, you could always try for the near-impossible and sprint on to North Bridge to see if you could catch the bus up there. Whether you made it or not, it was better exercise that a half hour on the bowling lanes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Commercial Adventures In Halifax


When I was young, and adventurous, and rust-free, I could never resist the opportunities provided by a rainy night when it came to photographic patterns and reflections. I suspect that this is a fairly early photograph of mine, taken in the mid 1960s. I am fairly certain that it was taken in Commercial Street, Halifax from somewhere just outside the Post Office, looking towards Ward’s End. If I am right that is the illuminated sign of the old ABC Cinema towards the left of the picture and the sign of Ramsden’s Stone Trough Brewery in the centre background. The brewery was demolished in 1968, so my photograph obviously pre-dates that. As for the rest of it, you can spend an entertaining minute or so trying to pick out some of the other familiar sights from the darkness: now that I am old and rust-coated, that’s my idea of adventure.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Time After Time

 


My negatives are cut into strips of six, and, over the years, the individual strips have been moved so many times, they no longer have a logical sequence. Whilst each shot within the six is, obviously, related in time and place to those adjacent, the same cannot be said for the 700 or so individual strips. A few months ago, I scanned a strip of negatives that started with a photograph of Halifax Town Hall been stone-cleaned. The time on the Town Hall clock on that photograph was five minutes top eight. Today, I came across another strip of negatives, the last of which, is another photograph of the town hall being stone cleaned. This time, the time of the town hall clock is six minutes to eight. We have a sequence!

Harry Moore, Sammy Davis Junior, And Me

  I'm a great believer in pointlessness. To have the luxury of allowing your mind to wander down thought paths with the freedom and irre...