Category Archives: Pictures From Nowhere

ARCHAEOTOGRAPHY

As far as I know there isn’t a name for it: it isn’t a recognised pastime, there are no societies for the propagation of it, nor journals that record the annals of its proceedings. I am, however, dedicated to digging up old images. It has the distinct advantage – when compared to its second-cousin, archeology – of not exposing you to quantities of mud, or worms, or rain, or snow. It is environmentally-friendly, draining only enough electricity from the grid to power-up a scanner, and making the use of old photos that would otherwise go to land-fill. And, at the end of the day, there are few joys that can compare to the discovery within the tattered and torn remnants of some unknown photograph, an image that is truly beautiful.

Get A Life

Well, there you go – doesn’t three months go quickly when you have nothing better to do than produce your own daily calendar. When I started the project, I thought it might last a week or two – a month at the most, but now I am surrounded by calendar pages, and I have posted one to my blog every day since the beginning of the year. But now the sky is blue, the lockdown is easing and life pops its head around the corner to remind you its there. I will keep on producing the daily calendars, for the next week or two at least, but I will abandon the daily posts and get a life.

“Little Housewives” Learn How To Boil An Egg!

My room is packed from floor to ceiling with boxes full of old photos, old newspapers, old writings and old memories. Occasionally I randomly dip into a box and scan what emerges. Today it is a copy of the New Penny Magazine from – as far as I can make out – about 1898. It contains an article entitled “Little Housewives” which could form the basis of a PhD thesis on gender stereotyping at the turn of the twentieth century. Here is but a short extract:-

LITTLE HOUSEWIVES : A Visit To A Housewifery Centre. The frying-pan rules the world, or rather those who wield that powerful weapon do so; or to put it in a more matter-of-fact way, the happiness of man depends in great part upon the skill or otherwise of those who manage the household; or to come really to the point, a good housewife is a boon and a blessing to the man who is lucky enough to win her for his mate.
Bearing this weighty fact in mind, I turned my steps one afternoon towards Walworth, S.E. or, to be precise, I went down there by train, and found myself first in Beresford Street, then in a school-yard, full of merry maidens of immature age, who looked on me, I have no doubt, as a strange thing strayed from another world, for what business had a man there? Before me stood a small house, at whose door I timidly knocked, I entered to find myself in a neat kitchen, on the left I saw an equally neat scullery, on the right a cool-looking tidy sitting room. I was in the “housewifery centre”, which I had come to see, where I had heard that girls were initiated into the mysteries of house-keeping.
COOKERY AND DOMESTIC ECONOMYLESSON IX : Theory – (a) Eggs; their chief constituents. (b) How to test and preserve them. Demonstration – Poaching an egg. Custard pudding. Boiled batter pudding. Class Practice – In above and boiling an egg. Principle Taught – Dietary value of eggs, various methods of using and cooking them.
DOMESTIC ECONOMY AND LAUNRY WORKLESSON IV : Theory – The process of washing, rinsing and blueing clothes. Blue and whence obtained. Demonstration – Washing “fine things”, rinsing and blueing.


It will form a suitable calendar photo for today, and perhaps remind me, not only how to boil an egg, but of the importance of social change.

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!

Good Wishes Yvette

To Edith, Good wishes : The Edith in question was my later mother-in-law, who, as a teenager in Liverpool, would stand outside the stage door at the Liverpool Empire and collect celebrity autographs. The sender of these sentiments and the subject of the postcard portrait was the actress Yvette Anning. Yvette was a successful singer and actress in the 1920s and 30s, who seems to have left few digital footprints for the modern Information Age. As far as I can see, this is the only photograph of her on the internet, and if this is the case, I am proud top be its sponsor. Good wishes, Yvette.

Murder Most Foul In Tenerife

My desktop calendar image today features a photograph I took ten years ago whilst visiting an ornamental garden in Tenerife. Why I took a photograph of the ticket office, I don’t know – it was one of those instinctive shots that sometimes works …. and more often, doesn’t. I like to think it did this time, although I would have difficulty explaining why. There is something about the Agatha Christie posters, the Union Jack and the expression of the ticket seller. Murder most foul in Tenerife.

Shooting The Past

An old friend of mine recommended Stephen Poliakoff’s “Shooting The Past” (and even better, sent me the DVD through the post), and I have been watching and enjoying it over the past few nights. What struck a particular chord with me was the ability to love photographs for their own sake, not because they feature Uncle Joe or Cousin Ada … or even more bizarrely in these modern days, because they provide an enhanced vision of oneself. Photographs of all types, have played a massive part in my life, and therefore today I am featuring an old photograph from an album of unknown photos of people, which came into my possession via eBay. All I know is that the subject of the photograph was called Derrick. I don’t even need to know that. On its own, it is a fine photograph – good enough to grace the shelves of the Fallon Photo Library.

« Older Entries