Those of a certain age will remember the final scene in the original 1960s film Planet of the Apes. Charlton Heston is riding a horse across a post-apocalyptic planet when he finds a crumbling relic, and suddenly realises it is the remains of the Statue of Liberty. This strange new world is none other that the earth some time in the future, after some awful calamitous event.
A similar thing happened to me yesterday as I was walking the dog down an old footpath in Rastrick. I looked down at the stones making up the rough path …. and there I saw it.
Family history – dripping with memories. Aunty Annie in that hat, Uncle Harry in that suit, my wife to be in that dress: all set against the background of an asbestos garage. My father (left) is wearing a suit so it must have been a special occasion. The date will be about 1970 which doesn’t coincide with any important birthdays or anniversaries. No matter – a moment in time captured forever.
Two photographs from either the 1970s or 80s. By then I had left Halifax, but I would still walk around town with my camera when I returned to visit friends and family. These two photographs were taken in the Shaw Lane area of the town.
The stark monochrome shapes of mills and hills in Halifax. The mills are down Shaw Lane, the hill is Beacon Hill.
Looking down Boys Lane, Halifax, towards the Shears Inn. Little has changed over the years, you could probably see the same scene today: but, alas, in these Coronadays, the Shears will be temporarily closed.
A high resolution scan of the fallen blossom from the Camellia bush in the back garden. For weeks I have watched the bright pink fading into brown, and now most of the life seems to have gone from it. It leaves, however, a kind of beauty that can rival the boastful loudness of its prime.
With nothing much to do other than read old newspapers, I found this article in a copy of the local Brighouse News from exactly 140 years ago. It was a report by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Britton, on efforts being taken to combat the outbreak of scarlet fever (Scarlatina) in the town. Reading through the list of measures – social distancing, quarantining, closing schools, limiting funeral ceremonies, even gratuitous disinfectants – you are suddenly reminded that little is new in this world. Granted, we have yet to see the reintroduction of “Nuisance Inspectors”, but it is probably just a matter of time. All I need to do now is to find a copy of the newspaper from a year later to see whether things will ever return to normal.
Precautions Adopted: I now come to a very important part of this report, viz. – the precautions already adopted to put a stop to, and limit the spread of, the disease. I may say that everything has been done by your authority, and by your officers, with one exception, and that is “isolation”, to which I shall refer later on. Bills of “Precautions” have been twice distributed from house to house, and have also been posted in the district. The masters and mistresses of the various schools have been visited, and requested to exercise the greatest caution not to admit children from infected houses. All cases of which we have had any information, and also all suspected cases, have been regularly and systematically visited by your nuisance inspector, in many cases daily, and by myself at intervals of a few days. Not only have the cases been visited themselves, but careful inquiries have been made in the immediate neighbourhood of any cases, in order to ascertain if any more could be heard of. This has been done both at the inspector’s daily rounds, and also at my occasional visits. At these visits to infected houses, the occupants have been cautioned about admitting friends into their houses, and especially children; if they have had any children who remained well, they have been requested to keep them away from school, and not to allow them to mix with other children. They have been supplied with disinfectants gratuitously, and shown how to use them; they have been instructed to use every care in disposing of the slops and secreta from the houses; to observe thorough cleanliness, and to admit as much fresh air as possible into their houses. In cases of death, they have been requested to bury early, to avoid funeral teas, and not to allow children and friends in, to see the corpse; to make a thorough cleansing of house and contents afterwards, as well as after every case of recovery. This is a thing. I am happy to say, that the public generally do.
I took this photograph a couple of days ago whilst walking in Greetland. It shows the view across some fields towards Wainhouse Tower and Crossley Heath school in the distance. It’s a lovely sight, as fine a view as you could find anywhere in this land. What you can’t see, however, is what I love most of all about this place I call home. Behind the first set of trees and before the second, there is a valley. Not some piddling little thing, but a monumental valley carved by glaciers many thousands of years ago. A valley with roads, railway lines, rivers and canals. A valley with houses, factories, offices and workshops. A valley with life and love. We hide these things well in these parts.