According to the news there is a danger of a storm surge in the North Sea which will bring the waves crashing inland. By chance I was watching that item whilst scanning an old negative which was taken, I think, in Bridlington. But who knows, by the end of this morning's high tide, it might be Brighouse-on-Sea.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
I took me a while to find the right phrase to describe it, but then it finally came : a transit lounge. There is something spartan and utilitarian about the phrase, it does exactly what it says on the tin. And as with all transit lounges, people stood around, sat around, leaned around; waiting. Whatever pose they adopted, whatever way they found to pass the time, they were all waiting for the call. Every so often a big chap - who could well have been called Gabriel - with a voice that could carry an armchair, would come to the door and shout out a pair of names. Looks were exchanged, brief, British nods of farewell were traded and the pair in question would walk, limp or hobble towards the door that led to the next room and whatever waited beyond.
And while we all waited we exchanged looks and swapped emotions; each of us unclear whether our absence from the last pair of called names was a cause for rejoicing or disappointment. Nobody wants to live in a transit lounge. If you looked at the other faces carefully, you half recognised some of them. They were people you had shared life with, even though you may have never met them before this evening. Most of them were old, but the occasional younger face would drift through as though to prove that life was nothing but a stick of rock with uncertainty in blood-red words running through it.
Every so often, people would glance towards the door to see if Gabriel was ready to call another pair through. He would shout their names with a strange formality that fit in well with a transit lounge. "D Barraclough and P Webster", he would call, and a pair of men would detach themselves from a group sat around a table casually drinking old ale and head for the door. And as each pair departed, the room got a little quieter, a little more introspective. Maybe we each individually flirted with the idea that whatever was driving the call would become satiated, and we that were left could go home and sit in front of a warm fire and try not to think too much. But like all good flirtations, it was never meant to be.
"J Singer and A Burnett"
It was Jack and me. It was our turn. I glanced across the room at Jack and he gave me a barely perceptible nod of the head, as if to say "come on lad, no fears".
So we rose from our seats and went through the doors to take part in the Brighouse and District Domino League Knock-out pairs championship. And, in case you are interested, we lost in the second round.
Monday, December 02, 2013
I must apologise for the intermittent nature of this blog of late. Long delayed attempts to complete projects for Christmas have collided with early-onset lethargy to create a perfect storm of procrastinated passivity. On top of which my camera lens has been unwell and I think I have a corn in the ball of my left foot. I was out testing the camera yesterday and took this photograph of skateboarders in Elland Park. In case the returns manager at Amazon is reading this, I must point out that it was taken with the good lens rather than the defective one.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a rather splendid gentleman sporting a rather splendid moustache. I suppose I could easily match it with any photograph of myself taken over the last 45 years or so, but my long standing moustache may be familiar and it may be comforting, but few would describe it as splendid.So I am turning to an anonymous Cabinet Card which comes from a Victorian album I bought at an Antique Centre last year, I have no idea who the subject of the photograph is, but the photographers' studio is local and therefore this particular gent might have been walking down any street in Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Halifax or Barnsley a hundred and twenty-five years ago. I know little about Eddison Ltd - the photographer - but their Halifax address is listed as being 4, Silver Street, Halifax. Silver Street still exists but the photographer is long gone.
Let me finish with a quick note about "The Best Of Sepia Saturday", the book which contains all the contributions to Sepia Saturday 200. As you can see, the proof copy has now arrived and there are just a few final revisions to be made (thank you Marilyn for reading through the draft and making some excellent suggestions). Here is a picture of the good lady-wife enjoying a sneak preview of what is destined to become one of the publishing events of the decade. Hopefully I will be able to officially announce the details of how you can obtain your copy early next week.
Until the book is published, you can get your ration of sepia goodies by going to the Sepia Saturday Blog and following all the links.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
“In the dime stores and bus stations
People talk of situations
Read books, repeat quotations
Draw conclusions on the wall
Some speak of the future
My love she speaks softly
She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all
Bob Dylan, “Love Minus Zero / No Limit” (1965)
Friday, November 22, 2013
|Same father, same garage, same house - a few years later.|
Friday night. My father and my brother were home from work. I was home from school. My mother had made tea (in the working class homes of the north, "tea" was the main meal of the day) and was washing up. My father had retreated into the little workshop he had at the rear of the garage where the family car was kept. He would be sandpapering a bookshelf, sorting his nails out, or greasing his hacksaws, or whatever he did in there. I am not sure where my brother had gone to : he would have been twenty, so the chances are he was already on his way to a night out. I was watching television. The news had finished and the regional current affairs programme was on. They interrupted the programme to make the announcement. Reports were coming in that US President John F Kennedy had been shot and killed. I remember going out of the door and into the garage to tell my father. I don't suppose either of us knew what it might mean. Neither of us realised that an indelible bookmark had been affixed to the story of our lives. Even 50 years into the long, unknown future I would be able to remember where I was at that precise moment.
Sepia Saturday 204 celebrates those momentous moments, the moments when big history and small history collide. See how others have interpreted the theme by going to the Sepia Saturday Blog and following the links.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Randomly dipping into and scanning my old negatives brings to the surface this early picture which must have been taken in 1966 or 1967. I was still at school and this was taken at a meeting of the School Photographic Society. I can't recall any of the names, except for the somewhat serious looking teacher in the centre : Tom "Screwy" Driver.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
What makes us read novels more than once? It can hardly be a tense plot as we already know how the plot unfolds. It might possibly be the quality of writing - I have read Scott Fitzgerald on many an occasion just for the pleasure of the words - but it is a rare writer that can achieve such heights. It might, of course, be familiarity : a kind of literary comfort food - rice pudding printed in Times New Roman - but there are limits (I am told) to how much rice pudding you can eat.
I pose the question because I have just started reading C P Snow's "Strangers And Brothers" sequence of novels again: for the third time. I suspect it is a personal thing, a relationship between characters real and characters fictional, that brings me back to these eleven linked novels. As I read the books I keep coming across bits of my life, people I remember and people I have forgotten, incidents and events, even places : all mixed up, shuffled around, out of context like a lightly troubled dream.
I have just embarked on the first in the series - George Passant - and there are still another ten waiting for me. In a moment of unnecessary contemplation the other day I thought to myself "this will be the last time I read the sequence". But that is silly. I suspect I can manage one more full reading before I leave the library of life.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Just got back from Centre Parc in Sherwood Forest where we have spent a delightful weekend with The Lad and The DTB (daughter-to-be). To those reading this from afar, I should stress that Sherwood Forest does really exist (and yes, it is in Nottinghamshire), and Centre Parc is a kind of holiday village built amongst the trees. You can swim, sail, play endless energetic games and/or eat and drink. Whether you are reading this from near or far, you will be able to easily guess my choice. Here are a few photographic souvenirs.
|The Lake and parts of the Village|
|One of the Villas : a little more up-market than the one we stayed in|
Thursday, November 14, 2013
As I have no doubt said before, looking at old images is a form of photographic archeology. You start out with the site; smoothed out and grassed over by age, and then slowly scrape away the layers of neglect to reveal a story from the past. Like any other archaeologist, we have our tools - our scanners and magnifying glasses, our on-line records - but at the end of the day we depend most of all on our eyes and our instincts.
As I went in search of a photograph for this week's Sepia Saturday - the theme of which is people framed by doors - I had high hopes of the faded photograph I chose. It matched the theme well, indeed for a moment I wondered if it could have been the same doorway as the one in the prompt image, but on closer inspection it wasn't. It was an old and faded photograph, however, and those are always the best for us photographic archaeologists. There was an intriguing notice in the window and the woman and girl would hopefully be identifiable.
But sometimes a bumpy field is nothing but a bumpy field. All my efforts to read the notice proved unsuccessful - my best guess is "Wax Stall" which makes little sense - and the two figures don't remind me of anyone in the family tree. The house, with its stone construction on a hillside, certainly appears to be resonant of West Yorkshire, and the fact that the photograph was in the Family Photo Shoebox rather than the Old Photographs Bought at Jumble Sale Shoebox infused it with genealogical possibilities. But those possibilities will have to lie dormant for a little longer. As I said, sometimes a bumpy field is nothing but a bumpy field.
To see what archaeological treasures are being investigated by other Sepia Saturday participants, go the the SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG and follow the links.