Thursday, 29 May 2014

Hair Today - Sepia Saturday

I cannot hope to match hair like this but I did once write about my experience with haircuts - see what follows, with a few pictures thrown in.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

It’s a sight I don’t often see these days. But then I don’t visit the barbers any more. What sight do I mean?

You must have seen a young child, watched over by a hovering mother getting his or her first hair cut. I must have been about four when I was introduced to Mr Fawkes, known to everyone as Guy. He was an ex-service man invalided out during the early days of WWII and fortunate to be retrained as a barber.

I remember being forced to sit on a narrow plank of wood, rough enough to leave a splinter in your bum if you did not sit still. Not that you had much chance of moving in the vice like grip of Mr Fawkes. Children were never allowed to call him Guy.

When I was older and permitted to visit his shop alone I soon realized why everyone called him Guy. If he had been the real Guy Fawkes, whom we had learnt about at school, I don’t think he would have been caught before he had had the chance to ignite the gunpowder in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament. Guy was an awesome sight with a lighted taper in his hand as he approached, intent on singeing the hairs on the back of the neck and in the ears of the victim in the chair.

Frank Churchill having his hair cut
{Illustration by Chris Hammond  in Jane Austen's "Emma."}

It was no fun waiting your turn. If an adult entered you went to the back of the queue. However it was informative to wait and see which staid gentleman accepted Guy’s offer of ‘something for the weekend,’ especially when it was the vicar.

Guy’s shop has gone together with his red and white pole.

George Webb's shop at 30 Friar Street Reading complete with barber's pole
(1890-1899 phot by Walton Adam)

 Guy went as well some time while I was at university. 

Bob at St Andrews

There is no barber’s in the village now. Even if there was it would be a unisex hairdressing salon with nubile young girls to cut your hair. Now this is something I miss as you will see as this tale unfolds.

The men on my side of the family have all gone grey and lost their hair. In my case the first signs of grey were pointed out to me when I was just sixteen. The receding hairline just crept up on me over the years. 

However I still had sufficient hair to feel shocked when I was subjected to the brutal trim administered by an army barber on my second day at Catterick as a National Service man.

British and American soldiers having hair cut in Normandy in 1994 
(ex Imperial War Museum collections)
My National Service haircut was just like the one behind the soldier with the paper.

Later I thought about auditioning for Hair. Eventually I decided against it. There really was not much point as I can’t sing and with three left feet my dancing is more one-sided that England’s football team. The audience would have left in horror at the scene in the nude. After all, who wants to see a hairy ape on stage?

Children have a habit of asking awkward questions. However there are some who come to their own conclusions. Once when I was not wearing a shirt I was told, “Daddy, I know why you have no hair on your head. It must have lost its way and grown on your chest instead.”

Hair has its own way of telling you when you should get it cut. In the days when I had to wear a safety helmet at work I knew the time had come when my hair curled upwards outside the brim, preventing my ear defenders from being deployed. 

Hard hat, safety specs and long sideburns
While I was in Norway, the one thing that delayed corrective action was the thought that a haircut would cost you an arm and leg as well.

Hair’s a funny thing; it grows profusely where you rather wish it didn’t, like down you nose and in your ears. Far be it from me to conclude that here it is well fertilised. Isn’t it strange that the ladies, and men too I’m told, get their unwanted hairs removed by using wax?

I don’t go to the barber’s any more. I really miss the attention of those young nubile things. I’m told they are not good for my blood pressure, but that’s not the reason I have given up. The cost of a haircut soared so much that it was better to invest in an electric trimmer.

This has it dangers as she who wields the clippers has designs on trimming the hair on my back – because it gets up her nose in bed. I suppose I must be thankful that my ears are intact. She draws the line however at using the attachment to attack those nasal hairs and those with their roots embedded in wax.

Finally here’s a safety warning. If you approach me from behind you had better wear dark glasses. My polished pate shines brighter than a landing light on a flies’ aerodrome.

For more follicle challenges you need to check the hair styles at Sepia-saturday-230.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Cloudspotting - Thematic Photography

Leaden, grey skies and rain make cloudspotting a difficult exercise this week; there is little promise of improvement tomorrow either. That's why I have raided my 2007 archive..

OK - so the clouds were in the shots by accident in all but the first.

Storm clouds gathering - Michigan, September 2007

Alnwick Castle in Northumberland is a photogenic subject - the clouds enhance the effect.

Alnwick Castle - Northumberland, July 2007

But does Harry Potter playing quidditch behind its walls add to the magic?

Alnwick Castle walls

Sorry - you have to imagine him.

The next two pictures were taken from a little steam boat on the Fowey estuary in Cornwall. There must be thousands of pictures of the town - these were taken in May 2007 when we were attending the Daphne du Maurier festival in her centenary year,

Fowey - May 2007

To see the results of more cloudspotting check out the links at Carmi's Thematic-photographic-296.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Gibraltar and Victory - Sunday Stamps

Horatio Nelson died at 1630 on 21 October 1805 on board HMS Victory. He had been shot on board by a French sniper during the Battle of Trafalgar.

Gibraltar issued a set of stamps to commemorate the 175th anniversary of his death.

This painting shows the Victory, with Nelson's body on board, being towed into Gibraltar for repairs after the battle. The famous Rock is unmistakable.

The four stamps issued in 1980 include one of the painting.

It shouldn't be too hard for you to work out where I found the sheet and the set of stamps. It wasn't under a rock.

To see what others have chosen please follow the links at Viridian's Sunday-stamps-172.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Stand By Your Beds

I cannot claim to have had much experience of dormitories and even less of ones occupied by the female sex. 

Our prompt this week shows a dorm room at a typical North American College in 1917.

I went to Stamford School in Lincolnshire as a day boy in 1948. I don't remember ever visiting the boarders' dormitories. However later some friends of mine were disciplined for 'raiding' the local girls school.

At St Andrews University I stayed in St Salvator's Hall, then a exclusively male hall of residence. Female visitors were only allowed in on a Sunday afternoon in those days. Now of course both male and female students live in 'Sallies'.

On balcony railings at end of top floor corridor outside room C30 - late 1950s
Hanging out the windows on the staircase over Sallies main entrance.
I have managed to find some dormitory pictures from earlier times, none as luxurious as Sallies spartan rooms.

You can only guess at what conditions were like at Ipswich School.

Interior of a dormitory at Ipswich Blackfriars (Dominican Friary)
{By John Sell Cotman (1782-1842)}
This pen and ink and water colour drawing is of the interior at the end of the period of occupation by Ipswich School.

As part of the civilian evacuation scheme in Britain  during WWII Malvern College was evacuated to Blenheim Palace. The State rooms were converted into dormitories and also used as classrooms.

Malvern College at Blenheim
The tapestry depicts a famous Malbarian battle scene (The Battle of Blenheim 1704). Because of the value of the works of art and antiques in the rooms ink was not used in school classes - all work was done in pencil. (Photo from Collections of the Imperial War Museum - IWM Non-Commercial Licence)

However refugees in Britain were not in such luxurious surroundings.

Life at Pauntley Court - School and Home for French and Belgian Refugees, Pauntley, Gloucestershire 1943
This photo is also from the collections of the Imperial War Museum (IWM Non-Commercial Licence). 

The blurb with the photo says, "Boys settle down in their bunks in one of the dormitories at Pauntley Court, the beams in this attic bedroom reminding them of the history of the building and the tradition that says it once belonged to Dick Whittington."

Somehow I doubt that was on their minds at all.

To show I'm even handed I looked for sleeping quarters containing girls and came up with these.

Early morning on a ski trip
And from my daughter's stay in Germany for a term, before she became one of the first six girls at Yarm School.

All girls together
The only dormitories I have shared were call barrack rooms. Often there you were rudely interrupted by a Sergeant Major or a junior NCO bawling "Stand by your beds!" - rather like these fellows.

French Infantry of the Line awaiting an inspection - 1885
In basic training though, the order might have been, "Stand by your beds with your boots in your hand!"

Or as one newly appointed Corporal shouted, "Stand by your boots with your bed in your hand!"

Now it's a case of "Right turn and march over to other dorms at Sepia-Saturday-229.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Trees and Branches - Thematic Photography

I'm spoilt for choice for Carmi's 'Trees and Branches' theme this week. 

Nevertheless I'll restrict myself, mainly. to recent photographs.

Tree in blossom at the bottom of our drive (April 2014)
I took some shots earlier today further up the lane.

Fir, White Lilac, Laburnum and Lilac
Another view from across the road of the same group of trees.

You should be able to pick out the four trees and another with red blossom.

If it's branches that you want to see then the pollarded tree in the old farmhouse garden really stands out.

Cherry Tree at Townend Farm
The next tree I have to show stands in front of a house rebuilt in 1754 - shame I cut its top off, as it looks just like a gigantic mushroom.

The 'Poppy' Tree
Going back to 2007 when I studied what was happening in a wood I have two shots that would make my all-time favourites list.

New growth viewed through a decaying log

Back home in April that blossom at the bottom of our drive stands above a juniper bush and is dwarfed by our largest conifer which unfortunately may have to come down soon.

While I talk to the trees you may branch out and see more at Carmi's Thematic-photographic-295.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

United Nations - Sunday Stamps

I acquired an envelope from the flea market a little while ago. I knew that it would be just right for a week where we have a free choice theme.

United Nations - franked envelope
Of course the stamps are on the other side.

United Nations
Taking a close look at the stamps - 

The central stamp contains the opening of the Preamble to the United Nations Charter written originally by the South African statesman, Jan Smuts. Smuts had also been, in 1931, the second non-British Lord Rector of St Andrews University (my old university). He was the only man to have signed the charters of the League of Nations and the UN.

The words on the 1c stamp are also part of the Preamble to the Charter of the UN.

The envelope was posted on June 18, 1971 to an address in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Cuyahoga Falls is the second largest in Ohio's Summit County where apparently they had bad flooding at the beginning of this week.

If you look at the franking on the envelope you might be able to make out that the date stamp in the middle was at Cuyahoga Falls on 21 June, 1971.

If you cross over to Viridian's Sunday-stamps-171. you can check out what others have shown this week.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Day We Went to Redcar - Sepia Saturday

I knew I shouldn't have used this title now I can't get that Fiddler's Dram song out of my head.

Redcar in North Yorkshire is one of the nearest beaches to us. We went there one Sunday last month. I was not expecting to see the place like this - 

Two windmills and not a car in sight
In the 1920s there were a lot of people about.

Beside the sea at Redcar
You can see Redcar's pier stretching out to sea.

The pier did not have a very happy life. In the 1880s and 1890s a series of ships broke through it. It was deliberately breached in 1940 to prevent its use by enemy invasion forces. As a result of damage by a mine explosion and subsequent deterioration it was never reconnected. The pier was demolished in 1981.

However Redcar now has a brand new pier.

Redcar Beacon - the town's vertical pier
When I first saw it i thought it was a 'helter skelter' ride like the ones there used to be at Redcar early in the 20th century.

Redcap Promenade 1902
The pier is still there and the beach is a hive of activity, a bit different from the day of our visit.

Redcar beach - 2014
I fairness I should say that it was mid-April when we went, the car park was half empty despite it being free (until the beginning of May at least). We couldn't have really expected the sands to look like this.

Redcar sands
We really must go back in the summer to see whether it's as busy then.

The old photos I've shown were taken inside the Redcar Beacon. 

Redcar Beacon  - 2014
 There is one on the wall on each of its six floors.

And just so they can annoy you too, here is Fiddler's Dram

Now you can get some more sand in your shoes by visiting Sepia-Saturday-228.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Landscapes - Thematic Photography

I have found some shots in my archive that are just right for this 'landscapes' topic.

High Force - on the River Tees in Teesdale
The English writer Arthur Young arrived there, on horseback, with his wife in 1771. He wrote:

"The whole river (no trifling one) divided by one rock into two vast torrents pours down a perpendicular precipice of near fourscore feet: The deluging force of the water throws up such a foam and misty rain, that the sun never shines without a large and brilliant rainbow appearing...
After preaching at Cuthberton and in Teesdale, I went a little out of my way, to see one of the wonders of nature. The river Tees rushes down between two rocks, and falls sixty feet perpendicular into a basin of water sixty feet deep."

Back in the 1956 I went on a geology field trip to the island of Raasay just off Skye. The landscapes there were quite spectacular even in black and white.

St Andrews University students on Raasay
The landscapes in the Yorkshire Dales are spectacular in a different way.

A view in Swaledale (Arkengarthdale?)
Another Swaledale view
All these shots were taken before the digital age. I wish I had kept a record of when and where the last two were taken.

For landscapes from other parts of the world check out what's been posted at Carmi's Thematic-photographic-294.