A seasonal image for the Christmas period: an early twentieth century celebrity postcard. It is captioned “The mother of The Missess Zena and Phyllis Dare“. Zena and Phyllis were musical comedy stars of the early years of the twentieth century, and their mother was Harriette Amelia Wheeler. She was the victim of an unhappy marriage and a violent husband, and clearly directed her energies into encouraging her daughters to go on the stage. As the postcard demonstrates, she also enjoyed a certain celebrity status herself. Her husband, Arthur Albert Dones was a divorce clerk, an occupation that may have come in useful when Harriette eventually divorced him for cruelty and adultery in 1915.
Monthly Archives: December 2020
A wet day in Brighouse, fifty-four years ago. Full of memories – donkey jackets, mini cars and Timothy Whites chemist. More resonant in these difficult times, memories of crowded pavements and social interaction.
On a day that we seem to be more isolated from the rest of the world than ever before, a reminder of the times when travel was easier. A reminder also of summer, and one of the beautiful capitals of Northern Europe. This was the city of Tallinn in Estonia during a visit in 2016.
Sometime, all you need is a shape. Detail is superfluous when outlines tell a story. This is my mother, Gladys, fifty-five years ago. I probably mis-judged the back-lighting, but I like to think that I was concerned only with capturing a shape.
What a pity the placenamers of old didn’t have access to Photoshop filters. Black Brook in West Vale could have been Gauguin Blue Brook and North Dean Mills could have been renamed Munchian Orange Mills. The world would have been a more colourful place.
The 16th century Clough House stood on Halifax Old Road, just north of Huddersfield. Its grandness can be judged by the fact that under the 1664 Hearth Tax it was taxed on five hearths, which at the time was not just grand it was positively greedy. Sadly it was demolished in 1899 and now lives on only in an old postcard in my collection.
A welcome Christmas present from the British Newspaper Archives – they have finally got around to making a start on digitising back copies of the Brighouse and Rastrick Gazette. Three full years are already available – 1881,1882 and 1889 – so there is plenty to keep my occupied during the coming Merry Little Christmas. Perhaps I will go and get myself a new set of artificial teeth to celebrate.
Take a cut flower on its last legs (and before you say it, of course flowers have legs); match it with a bit of colour left over from spray painting a railway viaduct; shake it all about, and you come up with the first of our exclusive 2021 range of wallpapers. What else is there to do on a winters’ night when you are waiting for Match of the Day to start?
A stone wall somewhere in Yorkshire – it was 40 years ago and I can’t remember exactly where. It probably was somewhere around Halifax, where there is stone enough to spare. There is something appealing about the slight curve: whether subsidence or intent, it gives it a sinuous feeling.