Friday, April 15, 2011


This is a Sepia Saturday post.
I've mentioned My Mum often enough here ( e.g.)
  Here is a photo I found (while clearing out the attic this week) of her Birthday Party ..
My Mum always spoke of her childhood as a lonely desert of a place,.My grandmother had died in childbirth.My grandad (pictured here, top/middle) was a sailor ,away from home & who had little to do with my Mum.She spent her childhood in the care of aunties in Fife & Edinburgh.She thought it a lonely existence I think.
All the more strange, then, to see this photo.It must have been her 6th birthday .Here she is , right in the middle with cake+doll.All those people around her!Even her dad!Although, I dont recognize anybody else in it.Maybe a school affair?Was "Birchlea" a school? I just dont know........... 
Maybe this is the opposite of  last week's post ?Just another way of "covering things up"? The camera never lies? Maybe this was just staged - managed? A cunning ploy to convince her she wasn't  really alone?Am I being cynical? I'm sure ,objectively , it was more complicated than that..................
One thing for sure........most of the photos I have of her childhood , she appears clutching a doll of some kind.

photos in  Halifax tonight . Tracy's Leaving Do . A Special Thanks to Nick & Dave for arranging the evening for us all+ making it all possible......

Friday, December 31, 2010

who am I when there is a sea?

A raindrop,dripping from a cloud,
Was ashamed when it saw the sea.
'Who am I when there is a sea?' it said.
When it saw itself with the eye of humility,
A shell nurtured it in its embrace.
They say that toddlers often enjoy playing more with the box the Christmas present came in rather than the present itself! Not so Me. Before Christmas , I bought myself the present of a negative scanner from the new Aldi's thats just opened next door to The Rochdale Hammam.I was royally pissed -off when I opened the box on Christmas Day to find it empty.
Yesterday I returned to complain.I now have the contents!
The first old negative ( 4x4 inches)I scanned was the above.It gave me quite a jolt.I think it was taken in Perth,Scotland.Late 1880's/early 1890's? I have never seen a photo before of my Great-Grandmother, but it must be her, she looks so much like My Mum  that its a bit disturbing.given the stern look on her face.
This is a Sepia Saturday Post.

My Thanks to Labour Councillor Bob Piper for these nice words.
+I Want To Send Some New Year Love To The Beautiful KAZ.
In Manchester.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A heart needs a home

Theme Thursday test

The Unthanks perform Robert Wyatt's 'Dondestan' (with clogs dance).
London, Union Chapel - December 8th, 2010

Palestine's a country / or at least used to be.
Palestine's a country / or at least used to be.
Felahin, refugee (Kurdistan similarly)
need something to build on / rather like the rest of us.
Palestine's a country / or at least used to be.
Palestine's a country / or at least used to be.
Felahin, refugee (deportees similarly)
need something to build on / rather like the rest of us got

Its just a year ago that we saw The Unthanks at the  Hebden Bridge Trades Club [ my photos].. This week I booked my tickets to see them play Manchester Cathedral on 30th April.
Becky Unthanks (2nd clog dancer from the right) although born in  Northumberland , now lives less than a mile from my house in Hebden Bridge.I see her shopping in the CO-Op & suchlike........
Halifax born Dominic Rivon threw out a challenge this week on his blog Choose one question from All Soul's College exam paper & write a blog post on it.
I have picked..................... Is exile always a misfortune ?

"Exile" might usually be seen as a geographical idea. To live apart.It's also tied in with a feeling of banishment . The majority have exile trust upon them. Those who choose exile do so out of circumstance.
I guess my Dad's life could have been described as one of "Exile".Living in Britain because he couldn't return return to his home in Poland.I am sure he saw this as his total misfortune.
[Incidentally , I am looking forword to seeing the new Peter Weir film The Way Back based around the life of
Sławomir Rawicz
born in Eastern Poland near my dad & like him, conscripted into the invading Soviet army, in 1939 from which both deserted and fled through the World to escape.]
The problem with this geographical exile is that truth & fact can become hidden\lost & incomprehensive in the exile's new home. It difficult to pass the legacy on..........I , for example, still don't fully understand how my Dad got from "A" to "B".I know he escaped Poland. I know he traveled via South Africa.I know he ended up in Scotland to join the Free Polish Airforce. But I don't know how this was done. I guess I never will...............
My dad hated his exile. Maybe if you chose it yourself it is different.? The World is full of happy expectant migrants Sailing to "New Worlds".in the hope of a better life.I,m sure it's not always a misfortune. The misfortune is not having a choose in one's life.................
How odd , at this point I was going to quote something Bryce Taylor said to me once.
" To Have True Freedom You Must Always Have 3 Alternative Options In Any Decision ". You Are Not Free If You Have No Alternative.........
I studied under Bryce when doing a 2 year Transpersonal Diploma with Oasis Human Relations. He had a very powerful influence on me.I lost touch after I left in 1996.It's a measure of my exile from him that I only tonight learned just now of his death in March via the Oasis
facebook page.
How strange ,reading his obituary  in The Yorkshire Post I found out things I never knew about him.He was born in Rochdale and he was a "keen photographer, gardener and Bob Dylan aficionado."
He was full of Power............To Say I liked the man would be wrong.But I respected his power & insight. He Saw me better than I saw myself (which was a worry !) bryce was one of the most influential people in my life.It is strange now to know of my exile from him.............He changed my life is ways I still have to discover.

His position was ,maybe, that We are all in exile.but we have the fortune to find our way home.
The facebook site carries photos of tree planting ceremonies to him on October 20th in Boston Spa,Yorkshire & Boston Massachusetts ( GRLI GA).Below a photo of Bryce (holding a carpet someone thought looked like a tree stump) & me.on the grass, in exile............
Another final point.You might find yourself in Exile and never need to move an inch! You stay still & the World changes around you.The current political & economic climate a case in point.Maybe it's not a geographical thing at all......................

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Polaroid Photo taken (By My Mum?By My Dad?) on the morning of 6th July 1977.It's in the Garden of my parents house in Halifax.
It must have been early morning.My Dad later would drive me & my Mum to The University of Lancaster to a degree awards.I was to recieve my Bachelor of Education Gong..
I had been out drinking & smoking the previous night & was a little hungover.The photo almost seems to mirror my inner-state.Digs those trippy flowers!
I remember being very proud of myself. The Duchess of Kent did the awarding.The first & only member of The Royal Family I have met,shaken hands with & spoken too.She died 13 months later from a brain tumour.She seemed very nice
A month after this photo was taken I moved to live in The East End of London to begin my teaching.
This is a Sepia Saturday post.

Friday, July 16, 2010

pretending to board a ship

This is a Sepia Saturday post.
A photo of Me.Taken by My Mum?Leith Docks.Early 1960s.
I've always had trouble with  naff jackets! No taste at all! This one must have been during my "Biggles Phase"?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

how I lost my innocence & virginity on the roof of St.Paul's Cathedral Choirboys School.....

This is an Easter Tale of sorts.I moved  for a year to London on April 1st 1971
Today I've been looking at and uploading some of my  dusty personal photos  to a  the facebook site called  YHA Carter Lane. It's  very small (23 members)but an  active site.My mind has been jogged!
[by the way,the Japanese Lady in this tale is on the left, in green,.in this first snapshot.I had been sleeping-in late on my rooftop room.They dragged me out of bed for this photo! I still look half asleep!]
Carter Lane Youth Hostel is in The City Of London ."The City" is an island within the rest of London.It has it's own Police Force.It's where the Law Courts & The Fleet Street Press were housed.At weekends it closed down.My local pub was where Dickins did a spot of scribbling.....[think The Vatican inside of  Rome]. All Pre-Wapping.:Pre-Thatcher.
Carter Lane is  just opposite St Paul's Cathedral .The Building was St Paul's Choir School ( former pupils include  Jimmy Edwards,& Walter de la Mare)
 In  May 1967.The Old School closed and...........
".Gone forever was the famous "crocodile" of boys crossing from Carter Lane to the cathedral at service time with the head chorister holding up the traffic."................  
It reopened soon afterwards as a Youth Hostel
It took me months to get used to The Cathedral bells ringing every 15 minutes [even throughout the night!].when I  first worked there as a 19 year old in 1971.I was an Assistant Warden.
It was the first time I had lived away from home.I cant remember the reason, but i seemed to have 2 rooms to sleep in.[One  led onto the building's roof.].
It was an important time in my life. I lost my virginity & had an intense & longish  relationship with a Japanese Lady who was 4 years older than me (it was the time that John & Yoko were hitting the headlines~.all very Cool+Hip  for me ).
It was also in Carter Lane that I started smoking Dope for the first time.I was introduced to Neil Young & spent many a hot summer's night dreaming  on the roof, listening to his music.
So happy memories.Also I grew up some.The Japanese Lady became pregnant by me.She wanted an abortion.I didnt.She won.We (as they say) split. The dream turned sour but, from this distance of time, the good memories far out way the bad.Ah! Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.........Finally.You will notice that I do not mention The Japanese Lady's name here.That's not me being diplomatic (after all this time,what would that matter?) The reason is I cannot remember it!
I do remember that her friend (the Japanese Lady on the right of the first snapshot) was called Yoko! Say's It All I Guess!

After this I returned to Yorkshire.I went back down to London's East End 8 years later as a Teacher.That is another story for another time.Although, I do talk already about it slightly  here.It's quite a different, harsher, experience.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mum & Dad.

It's a paradox.I,ve been posting quite a bit recently.I was going to visit & comment  on your blogs......(I have a backlog).Do you find that visiting & commenting takes up more time than actually creating your own posts?Anyway, I had set aside this Saturday morning to do this l.However, a charming roofer from Bradford came this morning  at check a leak.He was straight out of Last Of The Summer Wine!Soooo.....he was chatting for 3 hours & the morning has gone!
Me & Cathy are off to Manchester this afternoon & staying-over until Sunday ( It's Don & Margarets Silver Wedding gig).I will try & catch up on my return.
Next week I visit Bob in Bacup to help him set up his own blogspot.Also on Wednesday I stop over at Steve's in Shaw......a pissup in Royton!
See other Sepia Saturday posts here

This is a captured still from an 8mm film.It was taken in Poland in 1965.
My Dad had been away from his home village since WW2 ,25 years previously.
My Grandma was dying.He had come home to see her for the last time.
In this photo he is pointing out to my Mum a stream he used to play in as a child.

Friday, February 19, 2010

you keep me hanging on the telephone...........

Have you heard of The Samaritans?
Founded in 1953 in The East End Of London.
All major towns & cities in the U.K. have branches.Open for email;visits & telephone calls 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
I was a volunteer in Halifax for 7 years.I also helped regionally & nationally with Training.
Here is a little history behind the organization.
Non - Religious , yet initially founded by a vicar Chad Varah who was moved by the suicide of a 13 year old local girl.She had started
menstruating and, thinking she had a terminal disease ,(with nobody to talk too), she killed herself.
I met Chad a couple of times in his later years.(photo above).His simple idea of befriending filled a lonely gap in British Life.
It's not counseling.You don't talk anybody out of 'topping themself' .You just stand alongside them and (to use that awful American expression ) "Feel Their Pain" with them. Never a Judge. Never a Jury.
Because it is a non-religious outfit.And because it is totally inclusive (after some hard-nosed training *blushes*) , you get a really nice mix of volunteers to work with.
Usually , volunteers will work in pairs.Very easily you might find ,say, a 19 year old big ugly Chav  with tattoos & sweaty armpits sharing a shift with a 70 year old Hyacinth Bucket look alike in twin-set and pearls! Despair comes in all shapes and sizes and so do the friends who witness this despair.
Being a Samaritan is one of the Proudest things I have ever done.
This photo was taken in the late 1970's. A Float in the Halifax Charity Gala.  
I would love to tell you that I,m the 3rd person in the tub,under the bubbles.But,That, would be a lie...........
This is a Sepia Saturday post.

Only while writing this post, I found Here  the  contact details of The Sams in The U.S.A.
[forgive the dreadful pun in the title of this post.Forgive ,also, My posting of Debbie Harry on my (much neglected) Music Blog.]  !
Click here for a cartoon called "Watch out! Stephen Fry has joined the Samaritans!"
+Did you know that Phil Selway ,the drummer with Radiohead, is\was (?) A Samaritan?I also learned via this link that Phil Selway went to the same Teacher Training College  (C.F.Mott,Liverpool) as me!As did Julian Cope.

*Monday update: This terrible story.Politics at it's worse.The Micky Mouse Telephone helpline called "The National Bullying Helpline".Is causing a minor storm here in pre-election Britain.They claim that government staff rang their helpline claiming our Prime Minister bullies them.........which may be true\it may not.However,they broke all the rules of caller-confidentiality.As always with Politics.Dont ask "WHY" ask "WHY NOW"*

Thursday, January 14, 2010

after the goldrush............................

More uploads from my family's history here.............more info shortly.........Yesterday,.I met My Brother Zyg with Cathy & my Sister-in-Law Jean at The Bear in Todmorden.We had Lunch &; he gave me several Newspaper cuttings relating to Our Family's presence in North America. (not read them yet!) +137 more photos to share including the one above..........It's kind of tricky sharing & scanning these photos as they are both small & stuck in a photo album.I dont want to damage anything so i will take my time to copy them safely........
Here are the first batch I've uploaded.Something I never knew, My Aunty Brenda was born in Canada. My Grandfather moved there in the early 1900's "looking for gold" :"goldpanning" Whatever........I will give you more detail when i understand it more myself.
I have a postcard from Canada.Later my Grandfather must have moved South, hence these photo from Saranac Lake in upstate New York. .
I have been sharing these photos on facebook with Historic Saranac Lake
Turns Out It's Not Connected with Robert Louis Stevenson.But Interesting,None The Less (just mere coincidence a Family member returned?)......
.Sorry I have been AWOL from blogging .will visit you soon!Check Out Alan's Sepia Saturday for other romps !

Friday, January 08, 2010

Lang may yir lum reek wi ither fowk's coal

click image below for biggary & detail
frús'trey-ting-lee.........if enlarged ,you can see the faint inprint of a previous letter written over the top of this Xmas card.............................

"lang may yir lum reek "or 'long may your chimney smoke'.............a shortened version of “Lang may yir lum reek wi ither fowk's coal.” ( “Long may your chimney smoke with other people's coal.” )
This is my contribution to Alan's Sepia Saturday .As i told Alan the other week in Union Cross pub in Halifax I have a big box full of old (mainly sepia) photographs I need to scan/preserve.This is one i pulled out at random.The problem with many of these photos is ,although they are connected to my family, I really do not know the detail behind them.My Mum's side of the family came from Fife & Edinburgh. One of the few things I know about what is a very complicated family tree is that I am related to Robert Louis Stevenson .
The reason it is complicated & why big chunks are unknown to me is that my maternal grandfather was married 3 times .His first 2 wives (including my grandmother) died in childbirth.He had 3 children.One to each wife.My Mum had a half-brother & a half-sister.each of who had different mothers!

Although all the 3 were reasonably close they ended up living throughout the UK.One in the Home Counties of England.One in Edinburgh & my Mum in Yorkshire..My childhood was an endless series of trips to distant half -Aunts and quarter -cousins!

Genealogy has always been an ology-too-far for me .It's just too damn complicated!My maternal grandfather died (in Malta.he was a sailor) in 1951.He kind of abandoned my Mum when she was wee.So she was never very forthcoming on him & his relationships and the finer points of family history.Added to which my Dad's Polish family was even more complicated & distant to me .Astrology has always seemed a better bet!

Anyway this is a series of photos I had passed onto me when my half-Aunt Brenda died in Edinburgh 1985.This was a Christmas Card sent from Saranac Lake in upstate New York.

My guess is it was posted around the late-1800's or very early 1900's.Another guess it was sent to a member of my extended family.Maybe the sender too was a relative? I have several other photos from North America around the same period.I have about twelve from the series.Lots of Snow!It's really frustrating because one is of The Family Dog (with HIS name written on the back).I know the name of their bloody hound but not theirs!
Finally.For This Week.Here is another photo I dug out today.Again I know little.I seem to remember my Mum saying they were Family.and the house is in The Americas.Another mystery............but please look here.You could write a whole historical tv mini-series on the basis of this one photo alone!

Sometimes Life is like getting a 1000 piece jigsaw for Christmas.Then,come January you find out that 743 bits are missing................................

POSTCRIPT: [click ]
Coincidence...............after writing the above I went to Wiki and read up on the life of Robert Louis Stevenson.Turns out he wintered in Saranac in 1887! Of Course my post is probably 99% totally unconnected with this fact..but it does make you think.................

at last, a Protest Song about Afganistan..............

"..............Drawn from Martin Carthy's extensive repertoire, the song is a Napoleonic anti-war ballad about crippled cannon-fodder, brought bang up to date to reflect the toll paid by amputee veterans of Blair's wars..............." INDEPENDENT:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ralph Winston Fox.

“He is ignored by the Dictionary of National Biography and Encyclopaedia Britannica. There is no portrait of him in the National Portrait Gallery. He is a man largely without honour in his native town and despite obituary notices in most of the major newspapers, and a memorial service attended by 1,500 people.............."............the only memorial to Fox which exists in Halifax is a small plaque on a bench at Bull Green – on which the date of his death is incorrectly recorded...............[from:]
n.b. The ßench is outside what used to be the main Gents Public Toilet in the town !One the other hand, the Spanish recently put up a monument to him in the town of Lopera where he was killed.Sort of proves J.C.'s point that "a prophet has no honor in his own country". ?

The Great Halifax Marxist Writer&Fighter Ralph Winston Fox. I also have a copy (somewhere!)of an unpublished dissertation I helped research 15 years ago on his Life & an out-of-print copy of one of his novels ,if you wish to borrow?

Friday, September 05, 2008

She Flew..........................

Tie two birds together.
They will not be able to fly,even though they now have four wings

My Mum Died At 7 pm Last Night.
This Is A Photo Of Her Taken By The Halifax Evening Courier in 1983.
I was quite embarrassed & puzzled about it at the time.
She had left the Budgie's cage open &;the living room window open.It had flown away......................!I really do not know what she was thinking of? She lived very near the Newspaper Building.Perhaps she hoped the bird had flown in and perched on the Editor's desk?
Anyway.She was appealing to the readers to report any sightings.
More innocent times.These day the local paper is full of Murders &;; Drugs Raids......................
6 months after this photo was taken My Dad died suddenly.............................
I have prettier photos&;stories&memories of This Beautuiful Woman...........but this story seems so poignant to me today.

Neil Young "ßirds":Performance from ßridge School ßenefit 1991.