Wednesday, December 22, 2021

More December Days


This negative dates back forty years to the early eighties. By then we had moved north and were living in Sheffield, but I still returned to London with students or to attend courses and conferences. St Anne's Court was one of the narrow streets by Leicester Square populated by specialist shops dealing in action comics.

This image is based on a photograph I took ten years ago from the bridge over the River Calder in Sowerby Bridge. The Photoshop filters were applied last night.

A photograph taken earlier this week in Halifax of Princess Street and Halifax Town Hall.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

19 December 2021 : Outside The Boarding House


Each year we would go to the seaside for a week. One year we would go to Bridlington on the East coast, the next we would go to New Brighton on the West coast. This must have been a New Brighton year - probably around 1951 - for that is the boarding house we stayed at in Windsor Street. My brother, Roger, and myself feature along with our mother. The three older people in the photograph are unknown: the lady on the left is possibly the lady who kept the boarding house and the other two may have been staying there the same time we were.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

18 December 2021 : Saloon Bar


My desktop calendar today features two versions of a photograph I took fifty years ago of one of the wonderful art nouveaux signs outside the magnificent Blackfriars pub in London. The quotation is courtesy of the similarly magnificent Dr Johnson.

Friday, December 17, 2021

London's Changing


Stop Messing About


"Stop messing about" is a cry that has accompanied my entire life. "Stop messing about and get on with your homework, stop messing about and get down to some real work ....": you can change the latter part of the sentence, but the first few words remain the same. Some time the cry comes from others, more often it comes from me: the meaning is the same - curtail your flights of fancy, beware of tempting tangents, stick to the matter in hand. 

But now I answer to nobody, my life is gloriously aimless, and I can mess about 'till the cows meander home. When my time eventually comes, the last post on my blog will be "Alan Burnett - Stopped Messing About"

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Market Forces


MARKET FORCES : The hidden hand of competition that brings together buyers and sellers of bacon, beef and free range eggs under the cast-iron canopy of Victorian elegance. That was Halifax Borough Market fifty years ago.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

More December Days


More December calendar days which transport us from a group of statues gossiping in the sun, to a World War 1 leader captured forever on a vintage postcard, and finally a dead rose on its way to the dustbin.

Filtering On The Beach


This is based on a photograph I must have taken back in the 1980s. It wasn't a particularly good photograph in the first place, but experience suggests that poor photographs are good raw material for "filtering" (Filtering = the process of applying Photoshop filters in order to make pleasing images). At a guess, it was taken somewhere on the South coast, but I have no memory of where. Wherever it is, I think it is a fairly pleasing image, and therefore worth preserving.

Monday, December 13, 2021

A Walk In The Park With Edith Scheusz-Mohlheimer

On a miserable wet and grey day, what better is there to do than go for a walk in the park? You don't go for a walk in the park to get anywhere, such walks are aimless in the best sense of the word. They are voyages of discovery, where what is being discovered is simply something of interest, something curious, something unexpected. The park itself is not the main focus of interest, it could be any park, but in this instance it is People's Park in Halifax. The date is December 1908, and our companion today is Edith Constantia Scheusz-Mohlheimer.

Our walk in the park is courtesy of a picture postcard of People's Park which was sent on the 27th December 1908.  The card was sent to Mrs Cluff of Charlecote, Marple, Cheshire, and, although normally we have little idea of who sends such cards, in this instance Edith has included her address on the front of the card : 11, Park Road, Halifax. Those who know Halifax will realise that Park Road runs along the bottom of People's Park, and indeed, it is No 11 Park Road that is shown on the front of the card itself. The message reads as follows:-

"Many thanks for kind Xmas & New Year Greetings which we heartily reciprocate. Rudie has been very ill with acute attack of bronchitis but he is now practically well again I am thankful to say. Yours affect. EC S-M"

The 1911 census shows Edith Cconatantia Scheusz-Mohlheimer living at 11, Park Road, along with her son, Rudolph aged 6, and two servants. Her husband, Rudolph Scheusz-Mohlheimer Sr, must have been away at the time of the census as he is not listed, but we know from other records that he was a carpet manufacturer. They had recently moved to Halifax from Kidderminster (the other notable British "carpet town"), where young Rudolph had been born. The wonderful thing about such virtual walks in the park is that Edith can not only tell us what is happening now - about poor Rudie's bronchitis for example - but also give us a glimpse into the future. Both Mr and Mrs Scheusz-Mohlheimer continued to live in Park Road until their deaths (Rudolph died in 1949 and Edith in 1953). Rudolph Jr at some stage changed his surname to Castle-Miller (a more or less straight translation from the German) and was a wartime pilot in the RAF and a successful Barrister and Court Recorder.

What started as a simple view of People's Park ended as a fascinating stroll through twentieth century family history - a delightful walk in the park.

On The Sands


Messing about on the sands in Cleethorpes forty years ago. Messing about with a photograph of messing about on the sands in Cleethorpes, late last night. Whisky glass in hand, Photoshop filters all lined up. Photographs become reduced to shapes, colours reduced to shades. On the sands.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Back Street In Elland


There is something typically Yorkshire about cobbled back streets. Strong, functional, individualistic: taking you from A to B without any fuss, and even less fancy. I took this particular photograph in Elland back in the 1970s - back in pre-wheelie-bin days.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Around The World In Eighty Words : 13. Whisker


"I'm confused," said Lucy. "You're confused! What about me? I'm the one who is supposed to be finding our way around the world in just eighty word changes to our what3words geolocation code," I replied. "It might help if you turned the your map the right way up," was the short-tempered response from my dog.

We had arrived in the Anhui Province of China from our previous location in the Champagne Region of France. For most people (and dogs) that would require long distance international air travel, trains, buses, taxis, passports, visas, injections, health certificates, foreign currency, and a fortunes'-worth of travel and pet insurance. For us it had required nothing other than to change ///washing.basket.shirt into ///washing.whisker.shirt and we were gently transported into the middle of a field of rice thirty miles south east of the city of Fuyang.

To give some kind go geographic context to our paddy field, we were about five hundred miles south of Beijing, 720 miles north of Hong Kong, 400 miles west of Shanghai, and 5,400 miles east of Huddersfield (where we call home). As we walked through the fields towards the road, Lucy said that there was a lot of rice, and she kept stopping to sample it and check to see if there were any chicken near by, as chicken and rice was one of her favourite dishes. I reminded her that there were a large number of places in the world where dogs were seen as a culinary delicacy, and gave her a tug on the lead.

It's not easy finding information about remote areas of rural China, so I did a quick web search using the name of the nearest village, Songpozhaicun. All I could find was a list of the three most popular questions being posed by the residents of that village, which were, according to the Google translation, as follows: 1. "Can braised pork be eaten in the refrigerator for five days?"; 2. "Is black bean good for green heart or yellow heart?"; and 3. "What are the levels of protection for dolphins?" Not knowing the answer to any of these three questions we decided to give the local village a miss and cadge a virtual lift to the nearest city, which was Fuyang.

There can be few places in the world where the contrasts between the almost medieval rural and the technologically advanced urban are so great. Fuyang is a modern city of busy roads and skyscrapers and seven and a half million citizens. There was even an endless choice of KFC's and McDonalds where we could get chicken burgers and rice. After our meal - as was now traditional - Lucy and I decided to seek out a bar where we could spend the evening and choose our next word. I checked the directory for bars in Fuyang and found an extensive list which included the Mountbatton Bar, the Football Home Pub, the 1984 Siren Club, and the SOS Yaoba Karaoke Bar. Eventually we made our decision based on nothing other than the name of the establishment, and took a taxi to the Big Mouth Duzi Filling Station on Linquing Road. We finished up sitting on a wall outside the restaurant ("no dogs allowed") sharing a tin of Tizer. Lucy gave an involuntary shiver. "Winter's drawing in," I said. "Fair enough!" replied Lucy. So off we go to ///wahing.whisker.winter; see you there.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Boxed Phones And Chocolate Machines


The 1970s, when cars were wide and streets were narrow. When slot machines would just as easily provide you with ten filter tipped as a bar of chocolate. When phones weren't mobile but were inside cast iron boxes. When black and white were the colours of the decade.

Surreal South Yorkshire

This is a reworking of a photograph I took fifteen years ago on a walk around Thurgoland, near Sheffield. The original shot lacked both focus and detail; but Photoshop filters bring out something which may, or may not, have been there originally.

Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...