Sunday, January 31, 2021

That Was The Month That Was

 


So, there we are - the end of the month. It started with a somewhat digitally enhanced photograph of the River Don, and ended up at the back of Elland Town Hall. On the way we passed some old picture postcards, some forgotten politicians, a few remembered sights of my youth, and the odd ancient relative. The project of sharing my desktop calendar started as a bit of a blogging trial, I didn't expect it to last more than a few days. And here we are at the end of the month and there are 31 photographs to look back on.

That was January 2021. That was the month, that was. Let's see what February has to offer.


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Murder Most Foul In Tenerife

 

My desktop calendar image today features a photograph I took ten years ago whilst visiting an ornamental garden in Tenerife. Why I took a photograph of the ticket office, I don't know - it was one of those instinctive shots that sometimes works .... and more often, doesn't. I like to think it did this time, although I would have difficulty explaining why. There is something about the Agatha Christie posters, the Union Jack and the expression of the ticket seller. Murder most foul in Tenerife.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Einstein's Photographic Theory Of Relativity


On Sepia Saturday this week, the theme image is of a waterfall. I have a twofold submission - two photographs which, I believe, were taken within minutes of each other some ninety years ago. One shows a waterfall, the other a possible fall into water.

 



Although I have been scanning old family photographs for more than a decade, there are still some that remain unscanned, uncategorised, and unshared. Today I get to share two, both of which, I believe, were taken on the same outing almost ninety years ago. From the youthful and recognisable handwriting on the back of each photograph, it appears that I did question my parents about the location of the trip, and therefore I know that the first shows my father, Albert, balanced astride a log bridge over the Gordale Beck, near Malham in North Yorkshire, whilst the second shows my mother, Gladys, along with two companions sat in front of Janet's Foss Waterfall near Malham Tarn. 

There is a quote from Albert Einstein in which he says "Photographs never grow old .... How nice to look at a photograph of mother and father taken many years ago - you see them as you remember them". This is a classic example of Einstein being tripped up by his own theories of relativity. These photographs are not of my parents as I remember them - these are unknown people who grew into my parents fifteen years later. Photographs can grow old and they can grow young as well. This could have been Einstein's Photographic Theory of Relativity if he had taken the trouble to sit down and think about it.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Sweet Reflections


I found this reflection of a gable end in the polished signage of Elland sweet maker and seller, Joseph Dobson And Sons, whilst I was sorting through some old colour negatives yesterday. The photograph probably dates from the late 1970s or early 1980s, and the sign must have been on the shop in Southgate, Elland, rather than the factory in Northgate, but I can't be sure of that. The story of Dobson's - the originator of the famous Yorkshire Mixture - is a fascinating one and can be found on their website. Like a good boiled sweet it contains flavours that are both familiar and unexpected - the family connections to other sweet makers, the early medicinal connections, and the chance discovery of Yorkshire Mixture when a tray of boiled sweets was dropped. You can't rush a boiled sweet, and therefore it is quite right that this fine bit of lettering will be in front of me for a full day. It is something to savour.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Mill Chimneys Punctuating The Sky

 


Back in the olden days, when the sun shone every summer and when kids were happy with a mouldy orange for a Christmas present, photography was partly a chemical process. After you had carefully clicked a shutter - and, be careful, film costs money you know - you would disappear into a dark room and start mixing chemical solutions in the pale glow of an amber lamp. Sometimes things could go wrong, and if they did, there was no "undo the last action" command. You would occasionally be left with negatives that had strange markings, grain that would gather together in the manner of congealed soup, and shades of grey that were even more bizarre than an erotic dream. When it came to the enlarging process, you would often pass such negatives by - they weren't worth the investment in expensive bromide paper and developing solution. What the hell, you would think, I will leave that one for fifty years until I am old and locked down, with nothing better to do than to rescan the negative, remix the colours, remaster the grain and remember the days when Halifax had mill chimneys punctuating the sky.



Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Frozen Lane


 A late submission in memory of a day to remember and a day best forgot.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Random Diving


I approach the selection of images for my desktop calendar in a structured and logical fashion. I have created a carefully designed algorithm which takes into account a variety of factors such as mood, season, phases of the moon, and circadian rhythms. Having created it, I immediately consigned it to the waste thinking bin - I have three bins in my office, one for waste paper, one for waste plastic and one for waste thoughts - and relied instead on the Random Interaction Method. I have just short of 75,000 photographs in my Lightroom Catalogue, and therefore there is a good chance that if you dive in at random you might come up with something you can share the day with. My random dive today saw me emerge just outside a Mercedes-Benz car showroom in Sheffield, four and a half years ago. It appears I emerged in the form of a  Phoenix, ready to confront what the week has in store for me. It could have been worse.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

It's Raining In Tod


 As we have already agreed, it's Sunday and therefore no words are necessary.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Shooting The Past


An old friend of mine recommended Steven Poliakoff's "Shooting The Past" (and even better, sent me the DVD through the post), and I have been watching and enjoying it over the past few nights. What struck a particular chord with me was the ability to love photographs for their own sake, not because they feature Uncle Joe or Cousin Ada ... or even more bizarrely in these modern days, because they provide an enhanced vision of oneself. Photographs of all types, have played a massive part in my life, and therefore today I am featuring an old photograph from an album of unknown photos of people, which came into my possession via eBay. All I know is that the subject of the photograph was called Derrick. I don't even need to know that. On its own, it is a fine photograph - good enough to grace the shelves of the Fallon Photo Library.

Friday, January 22, 2021

For Me Alone


Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week - having reached the letter v - features a violinist. I'm not sure that we have a violinist in the family archives, the best I can come up with is an uncle that played the piano. I found some of his old sheet music the other day, and by a curious serendipity, it featured a violin accompaniment. That will do!

If, during my lifetime, I had accumulated paper money with the same skill and dexterity that I have accumulated paper ephemera, I would be a rich old man. As it is, I am an old man surrounded by plastic boxes full of old papers of every description, united only in my ability to find a justification for not consigning them to the paper bin. During one for my regular sweeps through my archives of detritus the other day, I came across a copy of the sheet music for the song "For You Alone". I don't play the piano, nor the violin. There is a United Nations Resolution on file somewhere that has banned me from singing within 100 metres of another living person. And even if I had the voice of an angel and the instrumental skills of a Paganini, I would not choose to perform "For You Alone". Its tune is forgettable and its lyrics are best forgotten. The best that could happen to it is to - and here I quote the lyrics - "let it flame before thy shrine".

And yet I keep it, for what it lacks in musicality it makes up for in memories. The song was made famous by Signor Caruso (you can hear him sing it on YouTube, but its hardly worth the WiFi time). More importantly the music was signed by my uncle, Harry Moore. I can have a photo of Uncle Harry at the piano if I want to, but today I choose some of his sheet music. For me, alone.

This is a Sepia Saturday Post. See more interpretations of the tune by visiting the Sepia Saturday Blog

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Sea, Salt And Sparks

 


There is something about seaside funfairs - something about the noise and energy of them, and the way  that gets mixed with the smell of fish and chips and seasoned with gusts of salty North Sea spray. The dodgem cars add an extra sensory perception - that spark of raw electricity that leaks from the overhead contact points. The time is forty years ago, the place is on the sea front at Bridlington. The signs that caution "No Bumping" are about as meaningful as a Trumpian promise. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Fire In Halifax

 


I can't be certain, but it must have been around 1967. I had been to the Central Library - which, at the time, was perversely located about a mile from the centre of Halifax - and I was walking back to the bus station, down Hanson Lane. I had my camera with me (which was more of a creative investment back in those days when cameras were bulky, heavy, far from smart, and unable to make the simplest of phone calls), and I was anxious to capture something of interest. The fire engines, hosepipes and watching crowds provided me with just the opportunity I needed: a fire in Halifax.


The original shot was in black and white, but I couldn't resist adding a touch of colour to brighten up my daily calendar on a very damp and monochrome day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

I Liked Right Well

 

My home-made desk calendar today features an image from a postcard - sent 110 years ago by my Great Aunt Eliza to her brother, Fowler Beanland. The view is of Fleet Street in Bury. I must admit, I don't think I have ever been to the town - an omission that I will try to put right once this lockdown in ended - but Google Maps suggests that Fleet Street no longer exists and has been replaced by a shopping mall.




The message on the card is as follows:-

17th April 1911
Dear Brothers,
Just a line to say that I arrived alright, I went to the New Church at Heywood last night and I liked right well. Mrs Land went with me and they were a man and woman sat with us and they gave us an invitation to their house.
With love, Eliza.

At the time, Eliza would have been 31 years old and she was living in Rochdale. I suspect, but I am not certain, that she was in domestic service, but I need to gather some more evidence.


Monday, January 18, 2021

Making My Mind Up About AI

 


I still can't make my mind up about AI. Artificial intelligence (AI) colourising programmes are all the rage: smart little apps where you can feed a monochrome image in at one end, and a beautifully realistic full-colour rendition emerges from the other end. To be honest, sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes realistic and sometimes it is colourful, but rarely all three. And sometimes it has the look of the kind of thing a three-year old, fed too much chocolate and given too many coloured crayons, would produce. I get to thinking that the old, faded, and bleached-out vision of faces from a bygone era is more lifelike than some daisy-fresh technicolour dream. And then I feed another old Victorian pasteboard photo into the AI machine and see life emerge, and it takes me back to the thrill I used to get when black and white images would slowly emerge from a dish of developer solution. As I say, I can't make my mind up about AI. I will spend the day with these two colourful Victorian girls and see what they say about artificial intelligence.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

On The Seventh Day

 


And on the seventh day, somebody said, don't write anything, just give us a photo.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Two Girls With A Parasol

 


Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week features an umbrella repair man from Sydney Australia. So what better way of celebrating umbrellas which start with a u from Sydney than by featuring parasols which start with a p from Cleethorpes!

My calendar today features a photograph from over ninety years ago of two girls posing in a seaside studio with a parasol. The photograph was taken in Cleethorpes on the stormy east coast of Britain, where parasols tended to be confined to the photographers' studio. The date of the photograph I estimate as 1929 or there about. The young girl on the right of the picture, as we look at it, is my mother, Gladys. I remember her telling me about the photograph when, as a child, I would leaf through the photograph albums. Was the other girl called Florrie? - I forget. They were two young girls on a day trip to the seaside from their jobs in the woollen mills of Bradford. It was a lifetime ago - and, as I face the prospect of trudging through the snow today, it feels increasingly like two lifetimes ago. But after my trip out to walk the dog, I can come back into my slightly warmer office and look at that smile I remember so well.

For other Sepia Saturday posts visit the Sepia Saturday Blog

Friday, January 15, 2021

Where?

 


If you ask me where I come from, I will say Halifax: even though I was not born in the town. For the first five years of my life, I lived far away in Bradford, and we only moved across the border when I was five. Even though I wasn't born in the town, and I have not lived there most of my adult life, Halifax is where I spent my formative years, and therefore my home. My son was born in Sheffield, and even though I managed to get him back to the Halifax area by the time he was five - and keep him here for those self-same formative years - by the age of eighteen he had gravitated back to the steel city. If I ask him where he comes from, he will probably wave his Wednesday scarf in the air and say Sheffield. I will often show him my old photographs and ask him to identify the location. If they are of Halifax, he will shrug his shoulders with the kind of indifference that only a non-native of the town can muster, and ask for pictures of that southern city he calls home. So, today's calendar picture is for Alexander - where is this? It is somewhere in the city (or it was when I took it forty years ago), but where? I have removed the street signs so as not to give it away. (Note to Sheffield Council: when I say removed, I mean removed via Photoshop rather than a bolt-cutter and crow-bar).

Thursday, January 14, 2021

When The Song Thrushes Sang


My calendar image today features a view of Throstle Nest Farm in Shepherd's Thorn Lane, Rastrick, which is only a few minutes walk away from where I live. The farm is long gone, all that remains is part of a vaulted cellar, and therefore this chance to see it as it would have been 100 years ago is a welcome one. The image comes from an old vintage postcard I recently acquired. There is a message on the back, but it has faded into mysterious obscurity.


As I look out of my window, the ground is thick with snow, therefore there will be no walk down Shepherd's Thorn Lane today. I will content myself with looking at the scene as it was over a century ago, on a sunny summer's day, when the song thrushes were still singing.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Arts Tower Is Long, Life Is Short


My calendar today shows a scene I am very familiar with as it was taken from the front window of the house I lived in forty years ago. Some of the Photoshopping may be new, but the photograph, the moodiness, the compelling shapeliness of the scene, all date back to my time living in Oxford Street, Sheffield. The magnificent building is the Grade II listed University of Sheffield Arts Tower (1965) which used to dominate the view from the small terraced house where we lived. Some times the sun would reflect off its glass panels, sometimes it would fade into the Sheffield mist; always it was there. I sometimes imagined the great Gods of the Arts, residing in the upper floors, like some twentieth century equivalent of Mount Olympus. My life has moved on over the last forty years, but the Arts Tower remains. The inevitable little aches and pains that are such a part of one's seventies, serve only to remind me of the carved aphorism on the wall of the Medical School which was just behind the Arts Tower, "Ars longa, vita brevis"

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

On Discovering Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman In My Freezer


I found Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman at the bottom of my chest freezer the other day. Not, I hasten to add, the late and somewhat lamented Liberal Prime Minister (1836-1908), but the frozen carton of pie and peas named after him. Now who, in their right mind, would name a dish of pie and peas after a somewhat obscure nineteenth and early twentieth century Prime Minister, I can hear you ask? The answer is, of course, me and my friend (and in-law), Ian. Some time ago, back in the good old days when pubs were still open, we would frequent a pub quiz, where, along with fifty questions, you were given a free dish of pie and peas. Not wanting to interrupt an evenings' drinking with unnecessary eating these would occasionally be taken home to be consumed later and, in some cases, were consigned to the deep freeze. I cannot remember exactly which one of us started the habit of naming these dishes after former Prime Ministers, but it is a habit that stuck, and at one time or another, the likes of David Lloyd-George and the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham could be found in freezers around Huddersfield.

By chance, I acquired a rather nice vintage postcard featuring Sir Henry, a couple of weeks ago. It dates from 1905, a time when Sir Henry - known to one and all simply as CB - was in power. His pie and peas were, sadly, well beyond their consume-by date and had to be disposed of. However, to make up for it, CB can share my desktop today.

Monday, January 11, 2021

A Waste Of Time

 


Throughout my life I have experimented with psychogeography (the non-structured exploration of urban environments by chance). As a child, some 65 years ago, my father and I would often go to Halifax Bus Station and catch the first bus that was leaving to "see where it took us". Ten or more years ago, I embarked on an exploration of West Yorkshire by visiting 500 metre squares chosen by a random number generator. Such exercises in psychogeography are activities for sunnier months - and months when we are not locked down at home. In winter months, therefore, I restrict myself to psychogeography's first cousin - psychohistory. And by that I mean, the random exploration of history, driven by chance and a delightful lack of purpose. So let us jump on any old newspaper and see where it takes us.

For my exercise today I have not used a random number generator, but simply gone back 100 years to the 11 January 1921. My newspaper of choice is the Daily Mirror, for no other reason than it had an attractive front page, which is useful if I have to live with it on my desktop for the rest of the day. And, as expected, my pointless exploration of the byways of history had fascinating results.

100 years ago today, the Hereford by-election took place and the front page of the Daily Mirror (then a ultra-conservative, right-wing paper controlled by the Harmsworth family) was full of photographs of their favoured candidate in the election, Alderman Ernest Langford. "Alderman Langford, a local man, liked by all who know him, smiles in anticipation of victory" runs one of the captions. Langford was the anti-waste candidate, and the Mirror was a big supporter of the Anti-Waste League (a political party established in 1921), indeed the Mirror owners' son was the leader of the party. 

You can forget your twenty-first century interpretation of the name of the campaign - this had nothing to do with pollution and the environment. The "waste" they were against was the waste of public expenditure on such things as benefits for the poor, house-building or any kind of state social provision. They wanted a small state and an even smaller rate of income tax. Given their media backers, they were remarkably successful, and soon had the ruling Conservative party fearing an electoral rout: so it quickly took the policies of the League on board and began to push, what we would now call "austerity" in a bid way. They appointed a commission under Sir Eric Geddes to look into public expenditure, and the Committee eventually recommended sweeping cuts in spending on education, health, housing and pensions - the so-called "Geddes Axe".  Most people now agree that the impact of this was to seriously exacerbate the economic crisis that dominated the 1920s and 1930s.

Who says you can't learn anything from history!



Sunday, January 10, 2021

AI Over Halifax

 


Artificial Intelligence (AI) colouring programmes are all the rage at the moment, and can be quite successful when it comes to adding yellow sands and blue skies to an old snap of Blackpool, or even a bit of colour to the cheeks of your Great Aunt Maude. The real test, however, is asking the AI wizard to colourise something a little more gritty, and a little less likely to feature in the coded algorithms of blue dresses and green leaves. As a test - and for want of something better to do whilst being half bored to death by a tedious goal-less FA Cup tie on the telly - I subjected one of my old photographs of Dean Clough to Deep Blue and his/her mates. The result is some mucky looking steam, enough browns to kit out a small army, and a few greys with smiley faces. On the whole, not bad!  (Update: there were two goals in the last five minutes of extra time).

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Time For A Tin Bath

 


Sepia Saturday was established over eleven years ago, during the golden age of blogging, as a weekly exchange of blog posts based on, and around, old photographs. During the Great Days of Blogging it would attract up to one hundred contributions each week, but now it is the home of a small band of regular posters, who still enjoy the opportunity to share old images. Whilst our fascination for old photographs has not waned - look at the popularity of photo-sharing groups on platforms such as Facebook - our willingness to spend that little longer creating and responding in this cut-and-past era, may have. I recently asked the few remaining Sepia diehards whether it was time to roll up the shutters and consign our sepia contributions to the digital equivalent of an old tea chest; but I am pleased to say that they all thought that we should carry on. And so we do. 

This week the Sepia theme image celebrates the letter T and an old tram has been chosen as a theme image. Nevertheless, I am giving the tram a miss, and rather spotlighting two other t's : time and a tin bath. The photograph of a child being washed in a tin bath in front of an old kitchen range seems to belong to another era: but is part of my own contemporary history. The woman is my mother, Gladys, and the child is my brother Roger, and the photograph must have been taken in either 1943 or 1944. In some ways the image - and the way of life it represents - seems ancient; and yet it spans less than one generation. That small child in the tin bath, will be looking at this photograph later today from the warm seclusion of his Caribbean island home. That's a long way to travel in a tin bath.


LINKS TO MORE SEPIA SATURDAY POSTS CAN BE FOUND ON THE SEPIA SATURDAY WEBSITE

Friday, January 08, 2021

Watchman, What Of The Night?


In the main, I try to steer clear of politics in my posts; not because politics isn't important (it is, vitally important), and not because I don't have political views (I do, very definite ones), but I believe that the problems facing us as a society today are not so simple that they can be solved in a cut-and-pasted tweet or Facebook post. The politics of the populist rant are causing enough problems these days (good morning, America, how are you this morning!). Nevertheless, I could not resist making my calendar post for today this vintage postcard from 1910. Interpret it as you will: better still get together with whoever is in your social bubble and discuss it calmly and logically. That seems to be what's needed.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Fooling Around In Keighley


My love of old vintage picture postcards goes back to my childhood when I would accompany my mother on occasional visits to her uncle, who lived in Keighley, the town of her birth. Fowler Beanland, who was always known in the family - without any trace of sarcasm - as "Uncle Fooler", lived in what was at the time, a smart terraced house a few minutes walk from the town centre. I would look forward to such visits because the preferred way of keeping me quiet whilst the grown-ups discussed family matters, was to let me look through Fowler's album of old postcards. He had collected these postcards during the great postcard-collecting craze of the first decade of the twentieth century. When I used to look at the album, when I was a child of six or seven, they would appeal to me because of their colour and their depiction of exotic locations such as Rochdale, Carlisle and Blackpool. Later, when I inherited the album, they would appeal to both my love of old photographs and my fascination for family history. I still have the collection intact, and I look forward to passing it on to my grandchildren. My desktop calendar image today features just one of these postcards, a view of North Street in Keighley in the early 1900s.

Somebody's Short Of A Happy New Year


I am a man of simple tastes. As far as food is concerned, all I ask for is a fried egg and a plate of chips. In the drinks department, you can cast me adrift with a crate of pale ale and a bottle or two of single malt whisky, and I would complain to nobody. My friends and relatives are aware of my uncomplicated requirements, and for Christmas I managed to acquire three bottles of malt, two crates of beer and a 10kg bag of Maris Pipers. Only yesterday, I finished the first crate of beer and went in search of the second; only to find it contentedly waiting for me under the Christmas Tree. I shouldn’t have worried, except earlier in the day I had been reading a copy of the Halifax Courier from January 1922 (papers are so boring these days, full of the same old stuff), and found an advert for Whitakers Brewery – one of the holy Trinity of former Halifax breweries. In the advert, Doc Shire comes across a crate of beer that has evidently fallen off the back of a wagon, and declared: “There’s somebody short of a Happy New Year“. I was so pleased that somebody wasn’t me, I adopted the advert as my daily calendar image – and even added a touch of colour for good measure.

Rambling Along Neural Pathways



I was lying in bed last night thinking, the way one does, about neural pathways. I can’t be sure that is the correct name for the strange threads that connect memories together, but if it isn’t, it will do until a better one comes along. Like country pathways, they tend to avoid straight lines, and cannot resist going from A to B via J, Q and G. What started this thought journey off was the random choice for my daily calendar for today which is a photograph I took at the Halifax Labour Party Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Show some fifty-three or fifty-four years ago. Leaving behind the somewhat quaint vision of these fathers and mothers of modern socialism with their entries for best dressed dahlias and presentation plates of soft fruit, my memory was quickly striding off down every neural pathway in sight. Yes, that is the then Halifax MP, Shirley Summerskill, anxiously awaiting the presentation of prizes. The hall is, I think, the one that used to be below the Halifax Labour Party rooms in St James Street: my memory of the internal layout of the building is less than perfect, although I can remember those stage curtains and back wallpaper as if it was yesterday. From that hall, the neural pathways lead to all manner of people and places, and with the photograph on my desk for this coming day of twenty-first century lockdown, it will provide me with endless opportunities to go rambling in my mind.

With A Little Help From A Friend

 

This is the outcome of yet another late-night, malt-whisky induced, Photoshop adventure. The starting point was a rather tattered little print from an old photograph album. The album contained thirty or forty prints of entirely unknown origin, which I bought off eBay for less than the price of a cup of tea in a coffee shop. The only clue as to the provenance is a short inscription in the front of the album which states “Winter 1946-7 and Summer 1947. 431 ED“. If the prints were in better condition, I would be loath to mess with them, but they are scratched and faded, bent and blurred, and openly invite me and my pal Photoshop to do our worst with them.

Of this particular effort, all the can be said is that the original blurred photograph was the work of our unknown photographer, the somewhat surreal colouring was the work of Photoshop, and the final decision that it was a face that I would be happy to spend the day looking at across my desk was my own …. with a little help from a glass of Bunnahabhain.

Boot-Caking, Door-Clogging, Welly-Wetting Snow

 


In my mind’s eye there was always snow in winter when I was younger. That same mind’s eye observed week after week of uninterrupted sunshine during each summer. It is, of course, all nonsense: if your mind has an eye at all it is equipped with about as much memory as a Sinclair ZX80 computer. You don’t need a mind’s eye, however, if you had a camera and a decent archive of your old negatives – you can scan through winter after winter of snow and remind yourself just how tough life used to be when central heating meant a paraffin stove in the middle of a room and a foreign holiday meant a day trip to Blackpool (I have been reading too many Facebook nostalgia group posts over Christmas and I am beginning to be infected by their sickly sentimentality). The calendar photograph on my desk today features a photograph I took in the mid 1980s, when we were living in Sheffield. I think it was taken from the bottom of Blake Street in Upperthorpe, but I can’t be certain about that as my mind’s eye was never equipped with a geo-tagging facility. Now that was snow: boot-caking, door-clogging, welly-wetting snow of the finest variety. For a proper, nostalgia-fest approach, I would like to say that snow was like that in the good old days before we started flirting with Europe, but I will refrain in case I attract the attention of fact-checking services.

We were supposed to go out for a walk yesterday, but a single snow flake was spotted drifting over the field at the bottom of the road, so we played safe and stayed inside instead. It gave me an opportunity to scan some photographs of the good old days.

Standing Firm And Staying Still

 


I was trying to explain to someone the other day why I have always steered clear of moving images. Ever since I first picked a camera up back in the sepia days of my youth, people have always seemed to see still images as a poor second-cousin to the magic of moving pictures. At first there was home cine film, and then video cameras; and I was able to explain my reluctance by pointing out that the equipment was bulky and the media was expensive. Once digital video via a smart phone button came on the scene, such excuses became as redundant as a director’s clapperboard. However, despite protestations that wanted a record of little Holroyd running on the sands swinging his bucket and spade, I stood firm and my pictures stood still. It is difficult to rationally explain, but there is something about the way a still image focusses attention on a specific moment, and invites you almost to become an active participant in a scene rather than a passive viewer. Faced with an old film which included two men sat on a rock near the seaside, you would perhaps give them a passing glance – it would be the most you would be able to afford in a world where images were coming at you 24 frames per second. Given a still image, however, you can invest time and attention. You can explore the background, examine their clothes, note the cigarettes, wonder what they might be drinking. You learn to live with a particular moment – a questioning look, a carefree smile – and it becomes more than just a moment in time. In this particular case, I know that the sitting man on the left of the photograph was my father, and it must have been taken in the 1930s. The photograph appears on my daily calendar, and therefore I have him for a full day whilst I sit at my desk. We can sit, chat, and this evening share a drink. Try doing that with an old VHS cassette.

Free Insurance For The Coming Year



There is nothing like the 1st of January appearing on the calendar to start a rush of New Year Resolutions. I suspect I have now lived long enough to realise that – if you are going to turn over a new leaf, or set out on a new and better trajectory through life – it would be better to start it on a cold Thursday afternoon in the middle of March. Nevertheless, I can’t seem to shake the habit of wanting to start a new diary on the 1st of January: it is a resolution that lasts, on average, about eight to ten days. When my descendants gather my papers together to examine my strange existence, they will be intrigued by the fact that I did so much during the first eight days of the year and then went into wordless hibernation for the remaining 357 days. This year I am limiting myself to the promise to keep my picture calendar going …. until the 8th of January at least.


Had I been tempted to start the more traditional type of diary I could have done worse than take up the offer made by the Halifax stationery and printing company, E Mortiner Ltd, in an advert in the Halifax Evening Courier exactly 100 years ago today. From their shop at the corner of Silver Street and Commercial Street you could buy, for just a half crown (twelve and a half pence to those of a shorter life-span), a Foolscap Diary – three days to a page – and they would throw in a free insurance policy for £1,000 for the coming year.

What with Covid, economic meltdown, social and political crisis and all the other problems we are likely to face in the year ahead, that is an offer I doubt that we will see repeated for 2021.




Home 2 : Bank Bottom, Halifax

The second picture in my "Home" collection is this photograph of Bank Bottom, Halifax, which I took somewhere around 1970. Square ...