Friday, April 27, 2012

Sepia Saturday 123 : To Brighten Things Up A Bit

The theme image over on Sepia Saturday this week features a maypole which immediately makes me think of a postcard to May, not from Poland but from Germany. I have several postcards to May Chambers in my collection - I bought them as a job lot in a second hand shop in Rotherham thirty years ago - and they all are in the same wonderful handwriting and from various cities in Europe. As you can see, this particular card was sent in September 1900 and the message reads (as far as I can make out) :

Dear May, You really must visit this beautiful city. There is only one thing wanting. That is some sun to brighten things up a bit. Yours LKH.

Here I sit in my room. It is almost May. There is only one thing wanting. That is some sun to brighten things up a bit. But even without sun, there is plenty to occupy my mind with. My great-nephew is visiting this weekend and on Sunday I plan to take him back to Sheffield where he is at University. I am tempted, awfully tempted, to call in at 99 Burngreave Road and see if May Chambers is at home. I will let you know what happens.

If you are in want of some sun to brighten things up a bit this weekend, you could do worse than visit the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow some of the fascinating links.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Sea Is Where The Sea Should Be

I am back from Scarborough and, as promised, I have an update on the 1904 postcard scene. It took a bit of time to find the best position and the one above is the best I could come up with. The Grand Hotel, the Castle and the hotel on the left all seem to be in the right position and the sea is where the sea should be. I even managed to get a blue sky with a dusting of white clouds, but I had difficulty in recruiting a cast of top-hatted gents bustle-bottomed ladies. I suppose we should be grateful that no car park-fringed supermarkets nor Lego-block towers  have appeared over the last 100 years. I will be featuring a few more of my Scarborough photographs over on my Picture Post Blog.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Donkey Rides And Pints Of Beer

We are off to the coast for a few days, to the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarbrough. This early 20th century postcard view comes from the collection of my great-uncle, Fowler Beanland. Between all the bracing walks, donkey rides, fish and chips, and pints of beer, I will try to find the spot this view was taken from and see what is there today. Knowing a little about the recent history of Scarborough, there is a fair chance that the cliffs have crumbled into the sea, in which case I might well get my feet wet. I'll be back on Thursday (hopefully).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sepia Saturday 121 : One Of Theirs

Our theme for Sepia Saturday this week is flight and it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Flying Corp. Looking through the old family photograph albums I couldn't find any photographs of family members boarding ancient biplanes or even shots of Auntie Miriam in a hot air balloon. Thinking about it, I have a feeling that I might have been the first member of my family to ever set foot in an aeroplane when I flew to Paris in 1973 (although, no doubt, my brother will write in to say that he beat me to it by five years!).

But I have found a photograph and it comes from one of the splendidly annotated albums of my Uncle Frank. It is precisely dated "Liverpool 1940" and the page is entitled "They Remind Us". There are two photographs of planes high in the sky. Under one it says "one of ours" and under the other "one of theirs". The large photograph shows "one of theirs" - I am featuring theirs not from any unpatriotic motive, it is just a better and sharper image - whilst the enlargement to the left shows "one of ours".  No doubt, there will be people who can tell me precisely what types of planes these are - back in Liverpool in 1940, Uncle Frank could obviously spot the difference between the outlines of the RAF and the Luftwaffe (I suppose back in those days it was a necessary and important skill).

So as we celebrate Sepia Saturday 121 and the anniversary of the Royal Flying Corp, let us be thankful that we no longer have to look nervously up into the sky to determine whether it is one of ours or one of theirs.

Take a flight over to the Sepia Saturday Blog to see what other departures to the world of old photographs are scheduled for this weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Catalogue Of Disasters : From A Dog-Cart To A Bricklayer

Every so often, I like digging through old newspapers and discovering what was making the news on this day in years gone by. Here is a report from the Leeds Mercury of the 11th April 1862 - 150 year ago today - concerning a catalogue of disasters that occurred on the streets of Leeds.

"SERIOUS STREET ACCIDENT IN LEEDS - A little before ten o'clock yesterday morning, an accident of a serious character occurred in Leeds. Whilst Mr. W. Lawson, skinner, Otley, and his wife and daughter, were proceeding down Woodhouse-lane, in a dog card, the horse took fright and set off at full speed. On reaching the bottom of the lane, the vehicle came in contact with a pair of steps on which a boy was standing cleaning a window. The steps were overthrown, and the boy was precipitated violently to the ground, without however being injured. The animal continued its flight, and shortly afterwards ran against a wherry driven by a person named Brittain. The dog-cart was upset and smashed to pieces and its three occupants where thrown into the road. Mrs Lawson was bruised about the head; Mr Lawson and his daughter escaped unhurt. The collision caused Brittain to be thrown under the wherry, and his animal taking fright, the wheels passed over him, injuring him considerably about the legs and body. The animal ran down Briggate at a rapid pace, damaging a milk cart which was standing at the end of Commercial-street and throwing the content of several milk cans into the street, as well as a lad in charge of them. When near the Bull and Mouth public-house the animal fell, and its further progress was checked by its being held down by a number of persons who immediately gathered around it."

Now I know that you shouldn't laugh, but it is difficult not to find grim amusement in this catalogue of disasters and perhaps I can be forgiven a chuckle or two after all these years. The story immediately put me in mind of the wonderful story of the bricklayer told by the artist and musician Gerard Huffnung in his speech to the Oxford Union in 1958. I am sure I have featured this speech before on News From Nowhere, but it is many years ago, and whilst there is a single person out there who hasn't heard it, it is worth repeating again and again.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Sepia Saturday 120 : I Used To Own A Little Library

I used to own a little library. It was a small affair by the standards of the day, no more than a dozen books in total. The books came in rich thick cardboard bindings made to look like leather, and the titles were printed in in gold coloured ink. There was a small encyclopedia, a medical handbook, a guidebook called "Romantic Britain" and a splendid patriotic volume entitled "Britain's Wonderful Fighting Forces" by  Captain Ellison Hawkes R.A. which was published in the early months of 1940. Practically all of the books had been published by the Odhams Press which specialised in books and magazines for the working class. 

My mother and father had acquired the books during the 1940s and for much of my youth they were exhibited like trophies in the display cabinet in the front room along with the coronation mug and the unopened miniature bottle of Advocaat. And I must have had a youthful desire to be a librarian because by the age of ten, I had acquired a date stamp and I had stuck little labels in the front of each of the books to record their loans.

I still have two or three of the books, but none of them seem to have retained their labels. It is quite possible that my brother has the rest of the collection (he was never very good about returning his library books) and no doubt he will let me know before the weekend is out. But the ones I still have are historical gems telling of days when Britain thought it ruled the waves and that the Maginot Line would keep the Huns at bay.

As I write this post fifty or sixty years later I do so from my room which is coated with bookshelves. You will find no labels stuck inside the front covers and my date stamp ran out of ink decades ago. But I like to think that I still own a little library, a little oasis where I can read my books and gently fall asleep.

Due to an oversight by the Group Administrator, Sepia Saturday 120 had two themes - LIBRARY and SLEEP. You can find the other posts - whichever theme they may have chosen - by following the links on the Sepia Saturday Blog.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

To The Meteorological Office : An Apology

Some of you may have noticed that yesterday on my ridiculous "Lite Blog" (Alan Burnett's Picture Post) I featured a photograph of snow in Sheffield back in the 1980s. I went on to mention that the Meteorological Office had forecast snow later in the day, but "it wont be real snow; it will be half-baked twenty-first century stuff, too thin to spread on a slice of toast". I would like to take this opportunity to unreservedly apologise for these remarks. Having now apologised and having learnt my lesson with the perspicacity of an "A Grade" student, could I ask the person who has dumped the six inches of cold white stuff outside our house to come and take it away again.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Shock At The Rock

First there was the Rumble In The Jungle, then there was the Thriller In Manila, and last night it was The Shock At The Rock. Following months of exciting anticipation, the Rock Tavern, Upper Edge, Elland, last night witnessed the final weigh-in in the slimming contest between two stalwarts of the Darts and Dominoes team, Jack (left) and Dave (right). For weeks rumours had been circulating about the weight-loss techniques being used by the pair - was that Jack who had been seen almost living down in the steam room at Elland Baths, was Dave making use of tapeworms for more than just bait for his fishing?

But last night the time for rumours and speculation was long gone; it was the tale of the tape, the story of the scales. The weights were recorded and compared to the measurements taken at the beginning of January, and the winner was announced to popular acclamation : Jack with a wight loss of eleven pounds had trounced Dave who had only managed a loss of two and a half pounds.

In the best pugilistic traditions, the end of the contest was marked by the drinking of many pints of beer by contestants and audience alike and the serving of sausage rolls and home made Morrocan spiced lamb sausage by Sue. Readers of my Sepia Saturday post might like to note the recycled Quality Street tin.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Introducing Lite-Blogging For The Facebook Generation

Last July I decided to close down my Picture Post Blog and move all my blogging activity over to News From Nowhere. A couple of weeks ago, on a whim, I started posting to it again and I must confess I am rather enjoying myself. But if Alan Burnett's Picture Post blog is going to live on, it is going to do so as a "Lite Blog" (you may not have heard of such things as I have just invented the term). AB's Picture Post will be an airy affair, trivial as a tabloid, digestible as a McVite's biscuit and as insubstantial as candy floss. You can scan it quickly without too much thought and move on to something else without feeling any obligation to comment, follow or interact in any way. It will be a tempting combination of junk-food and comfort food, perfect for the modern Facebook world of quick likes and easy smiles.

As in the past, it will feature my photographs old and new with a minimum of words. And just in case you want something lighter still all you need do is to glance at the latest pictures as they appear in the sidebar on this blog. This is blogging for the twenty-first century, blogging for the busy, active, multi-tasking generation. And just in case you have a strange attraction to over-long, turgid, word-rich exercises in self-centred contemplation, my "Heavy Blog", News From Nowhere, will continue on exactly as before.

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