Statues, Cousins And Bill Bailey

The Duke Of Wellington’s Regiment Memorial, Halifax, by Andrew Sinclair, 2019

Sculpture belongs in towns, on the streets, in the squares; not stuck away atop bronze horses in distant parks. It needs to be touched and spoken to. It needs to be a repository of thanks, of memories, and of empty coffee cups.

The Empty Niche Of Halifax

Trafalgar Square has its fourth plinth, where sculptors and artists are invited to exhibit their own interpretations of cultural history. Halifax Town Hall has its empty niche, just waiting for a suitable commemoration of local history. But who, or what, should be there?

Uncle Harry’s Cousin

This photograph is simple identified on the back with a caption saying “Uncle Harry’s Cousin”. The uncle was Harry Moore, husband of my father’s sister, Annie. I have no idea, however, who the cousin was – but what a lovely dress! The original print was a faded sepia – but with the help of a little artificial intelligence, the colours come out wonderfully.

The Palais Glide

 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.

Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this vintage postcard is the date. It was posted in 1904 and we must assume that by that time, the “Bill Bailey” song was widely known. The lyrics of the song – which was written and composed by Hughie Cannon two years before this cards was sent – tell the story of a man thrown out of his house by his wife who subsequently changes her mind. The image on the card changes the context somewhat and makes you question why anyone would possibly want Bill Bailey back in the state he is in!

The message on the reverse of the card is equally full of unanswered questions. Will Mr Mumford, the butcher of Brightside, ever make it home? Who knows!

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