Monday, June 30, 2014

Gone For A Rest Cure

After all the excitement of the wedding
After meeting and greeting friends old and new
After all that celebrating
All that eating and all that drinking
Especially all that drinking
I am in need of peace and sobriety
Time to think and time to recharge
So I have decided to go away for a few days
To contemplate, to meditate
James and Fred at Furey's Pub (1961)  : National Library of Ireland Stream on Flickr


Friday, June 27, 2014

Le Tour D' Elland

Having a reputation for fondness for old postcards often works to my advantage as people bring along hidden gems to show me, and let me borrow them so that I can share them with the rest of humanity. Over dinner, the other evening, our good friends Ann and Richard showed me this fascinating old postcard of Elland from Upper Edge, which dates from 1907. The Jaggers in question were Ann's family : an Elland family that stretches back over the generations.

For those interested in change, the road is still there, but it is now bisected by a concrete bi-pass. The houses are also still there - and they have been joined by many more - but the mill has gone. And next weekend, the Tour de France will wind its way through those back streets of Elland. That will be worth walking down Upper Edge to see.

Pig-Drunk Slater Poised Lockwood Carpet Snaker

For reasons beyond my comprehension, I have become obsessed with trying to understand a story I read in the newspaper the other day. Earlier this year, in an attempt to save money, I decided to sacrifice the dubious pleasures of a subscription to a contemporary newspaper in favour of a subscription to the British Newspaper Archives, on the assumptions that few news stories are new and you have as much chance of being a fully rounded personality by reading the newspapers of the nineteenth century as you have reading the hack-full celebrity tittle-tattle comics of the present day. But the following story - which comes from the Huddersfield Chronicle of May 15th 1880 - of a contretemps in the Huddersfield suburb of Lockwood - has left me puzzled as to exactly what is going on.

I have drawn labelled diagrams in my notebook in an attempt to follow the story of a plot that is more convoluted than a Raymond Chandler thriller. Were the Todds shaking carpets or snaking carpets? Who knocked who down and what exactly was involved when he "poised him"?. Exactly what kind of lemonade was sold by the nineteenth century publicans of the Holme Valley, and why oh why did Hiram Todd feel it necessary call Superintendent Townend to verify that his trap contained three pigs, two drakes and two ducks? We may never know .... but speculation on the affair is far more entertaining than on "Boob Job Model's £6,000 Taxi Handout"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sat Down And Put My Legs Up - Slept A Little

25 June 1820 (Halifax)
All went to church except Marian who staid at home on account of her bonnet. Mr Knight preached 28 minutes from St Luke. ch. 19 v. 41 .... Sat down and put my legs up - slept a little.

The latest in my series on "People of Halifax" is now available on the Halifax People Webside. This month the focus falls on Anne Lister of Shibden Hall.

"Anne Lister’s name rarely appears in print these days without some evocative adjective as a companion. Sometimes she is “the notorious Anne Lister”, sometimes “the brave Miss Lister”: often she is celebrated and occasionally she is persecuted, but now, some 200 years after her life, she is rarely ignored. This has not always been the case: at the time of her death in 1840 she managed only a two line obituary in the Leeds Mercury despite being an encyclopaedic diarist, an accomplished mountaineer, and a seasoned traveller. She was also a lesbian – today she is often hailed as “the first modern lesbian – which may help to explain why her story was hidden from view only to fully emerge almost 150 years after her death. Whist she was not born in Halifax, she is forever associated with the town and for much of her adult life she lived at Shibden Hall. Halifax folk have always had a fondness for the unusual and a grudging respect for people who did things differently. So we are more than happy to forget about Anne Lister’s Humberside birth and celebrate her here as one of the famous “People of Halifax”.

Picture of my Great Nephew, Tremani, Taken at Eureka Museum 24 June 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Exhaustion Sets In

Sleeping Together : Bridlington. B&W 35mm Negative. Circa 1978. (Alan Burnett)

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Lovely Day

For once in my life I hardly took any photographs over the weekend. I just wanted to enjoy the experience of what was a lovely, lovely day rather than worrying about camera angles or stray thumbs. And there were professional photographers on hand and hundreds of guests with cameras at the ready. Here, however, are a couple of the few that I took; so for one day only - it's the wedding.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Race Is On

The race is on to get everything ready for the big day on Saturday. Last night we went to a rehearsal at the Church and after the exhaustion of my birthday celebrations at the Dog Races from the previous day I was still feeling a little worse for wear. At one stage I found myself proclaiming "we do". Just who I have married, I am not entirely sure about, but at this stage, who cares?

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Reflections On The Second World War

A photograph taken this morning at the Brighouse 1940s Weekend. It wasn't so much the fact that Churchill turned up that drew my attention: nor the streets full of jeeps, nor the sentry boxes on the street corners. It was that wonderful polished steel helmet. 

I followed the General around the streets trying to get a good reflection in his hat. Which was a strange way to spend the war.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Sepia Saturday 231 : An Open Secret

Uncle Harry (Harry Moore) 1903 - 1982 : Circa  1928

Unknown Relative  or Friend : H B Jennings Studio, Bradford

This themeless week on Sepia Saturday gives me the opportunity to feature a couple of recent scans from my collection of old family photographs (it is my on-going attempt to digitise my life onto a 1TB hard drive before I take my leave of life). The first is a studio photograph of Uncle Harry which dates from the years he was on the stage. One can almost see the look of a young matinee idol, someone who might have made it at Pinewood, Elstree or one of the other British versions of Hollywood. Alas, the movies passed him by and he finished up playing the piano in Working Men's Clubs.

The second photograph is a very old Cabinet Card which has suffered the ravages of time. I have bought a number of such cards at antique shops over the last few years, but this predates them and therefore it must be someone within the family. It comes from a Bradford studio and therefore is likely to be from the Burnett strand of the family (the Burnetts are from Bradford, the Beanlands from Keighley, the Berrys from Halifax an the Ushers are from Liverpool - what a cosmopolitan lot we are!)

There is something penciled on the back of the photograph, but I can't make out what it is. Looks like F B Whitwell but that name means nothing to me. Perhaps it was a secret love of my great-grandfather. If so, now it is an open secret which has been shared with the world.

See what others are doing this Open Sepia Saturday by going to the Sepia Saturday Blog and following the links.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

A Prosaic Life Of Unwatered Plants

"Will you please send post card from Lucy you will see in letter rack as I want address. Key at Mrs Waites. Write and tell you more tomorrow. Don't forget plants. Love from Mary".

An old picture postcard - acquired who knows where. I have been to Jervaulx Abbey, it is a pleasant spot and this rather rusty photograph doesn't do it justice. The message is prosaic, but so what? Life is prosaic : made up of forgotten addresses and unwatered plants. In the case of Mary we can see what happens when Miss E Craddock forgets to prune the bushes. Here is a picture of "The Rookery" today.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Pub-A-Day : The Albert Hotel, Huddersfield

It is a while since I shared a page from my Pub-A-Day Calendar. Today's pub has provided many a welcome break from shopping. Not sure where the "Est 1777" claim comes from - the Albert would have been an odd name for a hotel in the eighteenth century and the current building is clearly of Victorian origin. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The Spy Who Came In From The Dockyard

As we march towards the outbreak of war, my journey through the local newspapers of 100 years ago still provides few clues to the disaster which is now just a couple of months away. The headlines are still dominated by domestic politics, Irish Home Rule  and the pronouncements of Bishops, but you can occasionally find a short article which the power of hindsight allows you to highlight. This particular story appeared in the Birmingham Gazette, one hundred years ago today.

The story of Samuel Maddick of Portsmouth is a strange one. It would appear that he wrote a letter to the German Embassy offering his services as a spy, a letter that, perhaps not surprisingly, was steamed open by the on-duty James Bond of the day. His request was forwarded to Berlin by the London Embassy and the German Secret Service sent him enough money to buy a ferry ticket to Ostend where he would meet his German contacts. It was at this point that the British police intervened and arrested Mr Maddick.

His case came to court on the 16th of June and the Judge promptly found him insane and committed to an asylum at Milton near Portsmouth. Shortly afterwards, Maddick managed to disprove the diagnosis by escaping from the asylum. After that the record becomes a little less clear - some sources say that he was re-arrested and spent the rest of the war in Pentonville Prison, whilst others claim that he simply vanished.

At a time when we were regularly giving the King's Cousin, the Kaiser, guided tours of British dockyards, it seems strange that a somewhat eccentric electrical fitter could be incarcerated for simply offering to divulge secrets he did not possess. But, as we are discovering, these summer days of one hundred years ago were odd in all sorts of ways.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Buckets Full Of the Sands Of Time

The print this is a scan of was tiny - no more that 6x4cms. It was scratched and dog-eared as was its right after surviving sixty odd years in the bottom of a box. But it dates from a time when photographs were solid and enduring, not something to be wiped off a sim card at the drop of a digital hat.  So I scanned it and I restored it as best I could and that involved getting up close and personal with the image. And whilst I painted over the dust spots and smoothed out the creases, I somehow absorbed some of the history fixed within the silver chloride salts. That's my mother on them left, looking relaxed and happy being close to her beloved sea. And that is Uncle Harry next to her holding a two year old curly haired cherub (yes, that is me). And that is my brother Roger sat next to his perfectly sculptured sand castle - an artist in the making, even back then. I can't recognise the rest, although there is probably a paper pattern of them somewhere in my memory banks.. But that is Bridlington in the background - pushed into the far distance by a trick of a short focal length lens. But more than anything else, I remember the buckets, there in the foreground. I remember the look of them, the feel of them, I suspect that if I tried I could remember the taste of them. I remember filling them with sand - the sands of time.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

We Get Colourful Birds Up North

It's that time of year. Bloggers all over the world are publishing pictures of exortic garden visitors feeding at their bird tables. There are Red Cardinals, Scarlet Macaws, Sky Bluebirds and the occasional Rainbow Trout : all of which tend to put my soot-encrusted sparrows to shame. But then, this morning, as I welcomed a new month and surveyed the damage done to my yellowing lawn by the acid rain, I spotted a rare and unusual visitor to my garden. I rushed to the bird books to help me identify my avian guest and I am pleased to announce to the world the first sighting of Passeridae Photoshopius Adobe in Yorkshire.

Daffodil On The Water

When I was young, back in the early 1950s, our family’s annual seaside holiday would alternate between Bridlington on the east coast and New...