Monthly Archives: March 2021

Leather Settees And Decorative Bournemouth

I am not sure which seaside this “seaside snap” from the 1930s was taken at. If it was any other member of my family I would say Bridlington, Scarborough , Blackpool, or – if they were being adventurous – Skegness. This, however, is Auntie Annie (left) and Uncle Harry (second from left), and they led a far more glamorous lifestyle. Harry had flirted with the performing arts, settled to become a clerical worker, and together with Annie, bought the first semi-detached house the family had ever seen, and spent their money on leather settees and decorative ornaments. This could well have been Bournemouth. Enough said!

Grass Is Green, Sky Is Blue

To prove a point I made yesterday, here is a hand-coloured postcard view the Lock-keepers cottage at Salterhebble from around 1905. The artificial intelligence behind this bit of colouring would have been a studio artist, but they would have worked on the same basis as their modern AI equivalent: grass is green, sky is blue, and flowers are normally pink. I passed this scene only this morning and I am pleased to say that not all that much has changed: the cottage still guards the lock, the railway line still directs the hill and All Saints Church still looks down on the world below. And the grass is still green, but, this morning, the sky wasn’t blue.

50 Shades Of Reality

An old negative of mine from 50 years ago with a dusting of colour provided by some Artificial Intelligence App. The results of such experiments remind me of the artificial colouring of vintage postcards during the first decade of the twentieth century: the results are not exactly accurate, but are attractive to the eye and make a change. We should equally avoid the trap of thinking that such experiments with colour somehow interfere with the “reality” of the original monochrome image: there is nothing real about a world reduced to a greyscale colour chart.

Ticket To Ride

Uncle Frank collected bus tickets. That’s not all: he also collected tape recordings of tv adverts from the 1950s, cigarette cards, and the occasional stamp. It was a relatively harmless pastime, and nothing like as disruptive to the family as, say, Auntie Amy, who collected husbands. I still have some of his old bus tickets and they are true works of art. The look, the colour, the very feel of them can transport you through time with the same effectiveness as the buses could transport you into town.

Britannia Over Elland

For over a century, Britannia has sat on top of the old bank building and the end of Elland Bridge, flanked by columns of Aberdeen granite, two pubs, and a host of mill chimneys. Whether she was looking at the old gas works, watching the traffic of the new by-pass or scanning Elland Woods – is that a meandering bear I see? – remains a mystery. Pubs, chimneys, gas works – and even bears – come and go, but Britannia remains, resolute in stone, ruling the occasional waves that appear in the Calder And Hebble Canal.

Rediscovering The Fellow Travellers

This is a photograph of unknown origin, the type of thing some people call an orphan image, which I must have acquired at some point as part of a job lot of old photographs nobody wanted any more. There is, however, an almost painterly quality about it: someone has taken the time to pose the group and the composition is outstanding. Equally, it has the ability to suggest both famous people and occasions: blink and I see President Roosevelt inspecting plans for the Panama Canal, blink again and it is Eiffel planning his tower.  I’ve coloured it a bit and cropped it a bit, just to prove that you can’t spoil a good photo by messing with it. I even did a Google Image search to see if it was a copy of a more famous photo, and surprise, surprise, I found an exact match! It appeared in a blogpost five years ago by someone who said: “I have found this old photo and I don’t know where it came from!”.  The post was from me – which just goes to prove two things: that life is a constant process of rediscovery ….. and my mind is beginning to go!

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