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.
Category Archives: Pictures From Nowhere
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.
First Day Of Spring. ‘Nuff Said.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I still can’t make my mind up about AI. Artificial intelligence (AI) colourising programmes are all the rage: smart little apps where you can feed a monochrome image in at one end, and a beautifully realistic full-colour rendition emerges from the other end. To be honest, sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes realistic and sometimes it is colourful, but rarely all three. And sometimes it has the look of the kind of thing a three-year old, fed too much chocolate and given too many coloured crayons, would produce. I get to thinking that the old, faded, and bleached-out vision of faces from a bygone era is more lifelike than some daisy-fresh technicolour dream. And then I feed another old Victorian pasteboard photo into the AI machine and see life emerge, and it takes me back to the thrill I used to get when black and white images would slowly emerge from a dish of developer solution. As I say, I can’t make my mind up about AI. I will spend the day with these two colourful Victorian girls and see what they say about artificial intelligence.
This is the outcome of yet another late-night, malt-whisky induced, Photoshop adventure. The starting point was a rather tattered little print from an old photograph album. The album contained thirty or forty prints of entirely unknown origin, which I bought off eBay for less than the price of a cup of tea in a coffee shop. The only clue as to the provenance is a short inscription in the front of the album which states “Winter 1946-7 and Summer 1947. 431 ED“. If the prints were in better condition, I would be loath to mess with them, but they are scratched and faded, bent and blurred, and openly invite me and my pal Photoshop to do our worst with them.
Of this particular effort, all the can be said is that the original blurred photograph was the work of our unknown photographer, the somewhat surreal colouring was the work of Photoshop, and the final decision that it was a face that I would be happy to spend the day looking at across my desk was my own …. with a little help from a glass of Bunnahabhain.