Category Archives: News From Nowhere

Acorn Autumn

If you go out for a walk in these parts, you can’t get very far without treading on a bed of acorns. It’s a little like walking on wooden marbles, and the sound of them crunching and snapping underfoot is reminiscent of the famous ladybird summer back in 1976. Just to check that it wasn’t my imagination, I Googled “why are there so many acorns this year?” and I was rewarded with a host of articles telling me that the phenomenon – it’s called a mast year – is quite rare. Then I checked the dates of the articles and discovered that they were from each of the last four years. This might mean that it isn’t as rare as the newspapers have suggested: or it might mean that these rare events have now become as common as … well as common as acorns. And that, might be a portent – but what could possibly be worse that what we are now living through? I see President Trump is up for election for another four years in a few days time …. it’s just a thought!

The Caryatids Of Ossett

With the iron grill of travel restrictions falling faster than the time it takes to flick through a glossy travel brochure, one is left wondering where to go for that little romantic break. Versailles is iffy, Venice is to be avoided and Athens is a risk too far. So what better way to spend a summers’ afternoon than to visit the caryatids of Ossett? Ossett Town Hall (conveniently situated ‘twixt Wakefield and Dewsbury), it’s magnificent stone carvings, along with the war memorial and market square, most be on anyone’s list of the ten greatest tourist destinations in the world. Social distancing wasn’t an issue – there weren’t that many folk about – and the locals speak in a way that will make you feel at home.

Layer Upon Layer

I took these two photographs when I was living in Sheffield in the early 1980s. In trying to work out where they were taken from, there are some obvious clues. With the help of maps and archives, I was able to pin down where the Morning Star Patent Flour mill was, and I was able to identify the church (Holy Trinity, Wicker, now the New Testament Church of God). There were, however, two separate railway lines visible in the first of the two photos, and try as I might, I could not come up with a line of sight that would include all these combinations. The solution came, I think, when I realised that I must have been using a telephoto lens, and I must have been stood on the top of the Kelvin Flats in Upperthorpe. The high-rise flats have been gone for more than a quarter of a century now, so such views of layer upon layer of Sheffield are no longer available.

Adding A Little Colour To The Family Tree

You know what it’s like. It’s late. You’ve been scanning some old family photographs. You’re tired, but not quite ready for bed just yet. And anyway, there are a still a couple of millimetres of that 10 year old Laphroaig left in the glass. It would be a shame to rush it. It’s important to have some alcohol gel on the inside, as well as the outside, in these difficult times. So you start messing. There is that photo of your mother, father and brother in all its sepia dullness. Why don’t we give my mother a nice coloured coat? And wouldn’t my father look good in a red check shirt? And as for little Roger, bless him, why not a yellow raincoat?

In the cold light of the following morning, you know that the original is more authentic, you know that some of the colours look a bit silly. But, what the hell! It’s about time that someone put some colour into the family tree. Now, it’s just a matter of waiting for my brother to email me to point out that the coat was green, not yellow!

If It Wasn’t For The Trees In-Between

This photograph must have been taken some time around 1972. Friends were visiting from “down south” and being shown Halifax – and where better to see it from than the top of Godley Bridge? Halifax was changing by then, new buildings were appearing on the skyline, and old mill chimneys were vanishing. My wife and I were passing the spot this photograph was taken from only yesterday, and I couldn’t resist trying to recreate it, although only one member of the original cast was available for the reunion. The spot is the same, and the view wouldn’t be all that dissimilar – if it wasn’t for the trees in-between.

I Am A Rock, I Am An Island

The last two frames of the strip of negatives from the winter of 1964/65 reveal how I can be so sure of both the date and the place. They show the destination of my walk, which was to my brothers’ new house in East Street, Lightcliffe. I may be neither a rock, nor an island (thank you Paul and Art for accompanying me in my walk), but at least at the end of my walk I can have the pleasure of watching Roger dig up rocks from his back yard.

I can remember the project well: he was clearing the yard to make room for the boat he was about to build there. By the Spring of 1965, the boat was well on the way to completion, and later that year it was starting its journey around the canals of northern Britain.

It was replaced by further boats, each of increasing size and complexity, and they would eventually take my brother and his family to the other side of the world. He will probably be reading this post from his island home in the West Indies: with memories of all those years ago …. and trying hard to remember what on earth snow is.

The Demo

A short strip of four negatives that must date from the 1960s. More than likely it was 1968: that was the year of demonstrations, and that was the year I must have caught a coach to London, slogan at the ready and camera in hand. I can vaguely remember the crowds, the excitement, and the noise. If I dig a little further, I can probably remember the cause and even taking the photographs. Just memories now; memories and a short strip of 35mm negatives.

A Question Of Religion

I am fairly certain that I was stood on the corner of Lister Lane and Rhodes Street in Halifax when I took this photograph some 55 years ago. If you squint in the right direction you can just about match up the curved corner stones with the current view on Google StreetView. My question, however, relates to the two religious establishments that can clearly be seen on my photo, but which have been replaced by houses and car parks on the current view. I have delved into the usual local history annals for clarification, and ended up with such a collection of saints and chapels, I have descended into a state of spiritual confusion. Someone out there, I am sure, will be able to provide me with some form of religious insight.

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