Sunday 17 October 2010

Abbeydale Road, Sheffield

Some murky pictures of Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, taken on a murky day last week.

Abbeydale Picture House has somehow managed to survive and is now a cinema and venue again.

I don't know if John Carr & Co. is still open for business. It wasn't when I passed by.

Thursday 14 October 2010


Just a nice, easy-going book to help us learn to read. OK.

Is that television terrors up there?

Just chilling out. Nothing wrong with that. Maybe take those boots off, eh?

I love Raumpatrouille Orion. And now I know how to spell 'weird animal-men'.



Look at the hand. The hand. Behind you. Still, it's OK though.



'He was shaking all over as their feelers touched his skin' has to be the best line in a kids reading book ever. This perfectly captures the genuine terror that children sometimes feel when watching science fiction on television. My parents used to let me watch 'The World at War' but when I first saw an episode of 'Quatermass and the Pit' when it was repeated on BBC2 in the eighties I almost shot through the serving hatch without opening the doors. I expect there'll be more from 'Words' later.

Good Night! Sleep Well!

I've never understood the concept behind 'tonic wine'. It sounds like a hangover (heh!) from the Victorian period, like buying heroin from the chemists and prussic acid from the corner shop (Prussic Acid being my main choice of name if I ever recorded any Aphex Twin-style electronica). A little alcohol a week is said to be beneficial for your health, but I'm not sure I'd fancy a few gulps of Buckfast before trying to settle down.

Then I realised where I found the image, and things started to become a little clearer. I discovered this in a 1940 copy of People's Friend magazine. What other period of British history would require you to take a pretty strong drink before going to bed? If I'd have lived through the Blitz I think I would have been permanently pickled (although you do wonder how many people missed the air raid siren and had to be dug out of the wreckage of their bedrooms after a Phosferine or three). As an aside,I really like the name of the product - somehow redolent of phosgene gas and phosphorus, those well-known putter-to-beds. It smacks of an era before large marketing departments and focus groups, although I'd take a focus group over being bombed any day.

Good night! Sleep well!

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Adam Curtis - The Strange Death of Political England

Many people will be familiar with Adam Curtis' work on the BBC, and his particular M.O. when it comes to documentary making, i.e. the use of carefully sourced original film and video, sometimes in context and sometimes juxtaposed with music and effects to create an atmospheric and darkly humorous feel.

More recently he has started a project on his BBC blog called 'The Strange Death of Political England', an 'emotional history' of Britain from 1970. I imagine that this will take some time to complete, but 1970 is already finished - take a look at it here. The clips are taken from news and current affairs programmes (amongst other sources) and are backed with the music of that particular year. There is something rather poignant watching the ordinary people from 1970 on the screen - taken out of their context as observers of great events or eyewitnesses to history, we actually get to see little shards of ordinary life from the past. The whole thing is a bit like wandering into a photograph, and taking a look at the straggly haircuts, British Leyland cars and pre-decimal adverts.

Anyway, it's great if you love archive film - it shows just how much has been stored away and remains, unseen - and I eagerly await the next year to be completed. Watch out for the report from Cairo after Nasser's death, with the unflappable chap from the BBC being slowly beseiged by members of teh public without once missing a beat, and also a quick look at a booze-puffy Gene Vincent touring around London and talking about conspiracy theories.

Finally, here's the first part of a Curtis series that I haven't seen for years;

Tuesday 12 October 2010


I found this in either 'Traffic Engineering and Control' or 'Civil Engineering (Monthly)' and is part of an advertisement for a road sign manufacturing company. Anyway, I like it - it's as if the men from the 'Keep Britain Tidy' signs got dressed up for their Christmas party.

Monday 11 October 2010

Faces of Old England

I found this terrifying photograph here. Taken circa 1863, it belongs to a photo album that was about to be thrown away for recycling.

The site has some wonderful found photographs (discovered in second hand books) and is highly recommended.

Seventies Storage

Storage solutions from the Design Council, seventies-style. I haven't included this in a kitsch, look-at-that-white-television kind of way, I love the ornaments and little details that give these interiors a sense of time and place. They in no way remind me of my own seventies childhood kitchen, which owed more to the Victoriansd and the local branch of Leo's than the Design Council.

Monday 4 October 2010

Looking Around

These primary school geography textbooks were published by the University of London Press in 1960. They are written with a very clipped, precise but entirely uncondescending voice. Pupils are asked to 'Cut out a paper spiral thus:'

The second book has a very urbane title:

The number of primary school children familiar with legs of mutton in 2010 = zero.

Three herrings on a dish. Paint pictures of a drifter at sea. Drifter at Sea sounds like a beatnik Dirk Bogarde film.

Friday 1 October 2010

Peak National Park Information Pack

Discovered in a dusty vault and full of interesting leaflets. How to wander the dark peak, discover love feasts and dressed wells, and who to contact if the worst comes to the worst;

Richard Manuel takes a group of young pioneers out into the peaks. I like her t-shirt.

The treasures contained within the folder;

There's a touch of the old weird albion about the next three. The faceless woman on the cart, the pensioner 'petalling in the smithy', not to mention the love feast of alport castle.

Finally, if you get into trouble;

Bee hive cover - depression in hillock. Phone Ripley 3551. That'll be all.


From Practical Wireless ...