Monthly Archives: December 2015

Concrete Bull In A Monochrome China Shop

Bull Ring Shopping Centre, Birmingham (D1-1)

In 1968 I went to live in Birmingham for a year. These two photographs were taken during that period and feature what was, at the time, the modern shopping centre at the heart of the city : the Bull Ring Centre. The Centre was all blocks and concrete, passages and steel. overpasses and underpasses. It was a delight for the monochrome photographer – but not for much else.

Bull Ring Shopping Centre, Birmingham (D1-1)

The old Bull Ring Centre has been demolished now (replaced by another one which has imaginatively been called Bullring) I have not been there yet, but I suspect that it will not provide the same inspiration.

Picture Post 1405 : An Old Trouper Begging For Coins

Wimbledon Palais (B1-5)

 

I must have taken this photograph of Wimbledon Palais in the 1970s. By then it was in terminal decline, and moving through the end stages of life of all great venues : from bingo hall to furniture store to builders’ rubble. Forty years earlier it had attracted dancers from all over London with the largest sprung dance floor in Europe. Even ten years before this photograph, the likes of the Beatles, the Stones and the Who had graced its stage. In this photograph it is like an old trouper begging for coins on a street corner.

Sepia Saturday 308 : The Lusty Cloth Dressers Of Halifax

Miriam Fieldhouse with older woman and dog. Circa 1940  (F1-1)

Miriam Fieldhouse with older woman and dog. Circa 1940 (F1-1)

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features an illustration from a late Victorian edition of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. There are all sorts of directions I could go with this theme. My Great Grandmother, for example, married a chap called J Robinson Thickpenny; but that is another story altogether and best left until after the watershed.

Daniel Defoe himself would be a useful thread to follow, for the man had a considerable affection for Halifax – the little Yorkshire textile town I will always call home. Defoe was a jobbing-writer of the best sort, turning his hand to anything that would put food on the table (if he had been alive now he would probably have published a blog). During his lifetime, other than the famous Robinson Crusoe, his bestselling work was a book entitled “Tour Thro The Whole Island of Great Britain” which was a lengthy Bill Brysonish travelogue in three volumes. During his tour of Yorkshire, he describes Halifax at the dawn of the industrial revolution at some length.

1512B-8

“…and so nearer we came to Halifax, we found the houses thicker and the villages greater…if we knocked at the door of any of the master manufacturers we presently saw a house full of lusty fellows, some at the dye vat, some dressing the cloth, some in the loom. …. those people all full of business; not a beggar, not an idle person to be seen, except here and there an alms-house, where people antient, decrepid, and past labour, might perhaps be found; for it is observable, that the people here, however laborious, generally live to a great age, a certain testimony to the goodness and wholesomness of the country, which is, without doubt, as healthy as any part of England.” (Daniel Defoe, 1726).

But it is a thread nearer the hearts of Sepians everywhere that I have decided to follow – choosing to feature another icon with a dog on the sands in my main photograph. The icon will need no introduction to committed Sepians – it is Auntie Miriam herself, the pin-up girl of Sepia Saturday. I like to think that the elderly lady standing with her is Athena, the Greek Goddess of digital imaging, and that the dog playfully wandering in the background carries the spirit of my own dear Amydog (this is unlikely as Amy disliked the sand with an intensity that matched her love of boiled ham).

So once again, Sepia Saturday takes me on the kind of ridiculous journey which makes life interesting. Far from being deserted, my island is full of characters : my great grandmother and her husband; the lusty cloth dresssers of Halifax, Amydog picking the sand from her paws and, of course, the iconic Auntie Miriam.