Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Policeman's Hat Is Not A Happy One.

You Have Been Warned

You Have Been Warned, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink. (Sign on Rouen Road, Norwich.)

"Plain clothes Police are operating in this area" which means presumably extravagantly dressed Police are operating everywhere else.

Which leads me to wonder why a policeman out of uniform is described as wearing plain clothes? I guess that the original Victorian blue uniform with the strange flower pot helmet (described by policemen today, I believe, as a tit* because of its because of it curved shape giving way to a metal 'nipple' at the top) was purposely outrageous so that the officer could be easily seen on a crowded street. We are so used to the hat these days we no longer see its strangeness.

It may be that the police actually call their hat a tit because it is short for Tit for Tat which is Cockney rhyming slang for hat. (This is more usually shortened to titfer.) Maybe that is how the helmet first got its name and the rude connotation was mere happenchance.

As everyone knows fewer and fewer policemen are wearing the helmet; For one thing no car is tall enough. It is more usual to see them in caps or even baseball caps ("What," says John Bull, "Not even cricketing caps but foriegn rounders ones").

I remember a friend in the force telling me that at the first sign of trouble; whether it was to chase someone or calm down a fight the first thing a new policeman learns to do is to get rid of the helmet because it only gets in the way.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Allowing Nation Speak Unto Nation

Marconiphone Model 295(?)

AC. Manufactured by Marconiphone Co. Ltd., Hayes, Middlesex. 1934, 4 Valves plus valve rectifier plus Fluid Light Indicator, Alternating current mains powered superheterodyne receiver table model. MW/LW. Iluminated full vision tuning scales showing metres. Left hand scale LW and right hand scale MW which light up according to which band you are tuned to. Brown bakelite trim and walnut cabinet. 16in. x 18in. x 10.25in. Original price £14. 3s 6d (£14.17.5p)

The tuning indicator shows a rising column of light as the station is tuned in.

Is George Formby on tonight?

The original cost of the radio is given some context when it is remembered that in 1934 an agricultural labourer would expect to earn £1. 10s 8d for a 50 hour week.(The figures are the national minimum wages under the Corn Production Acts 1917 and 1920, the Corn Production (Repeal) Act 1921, and the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Acts 1924 and 1940. From 1972 they are the statutory minimum for "ordinary" hired regular whole-time men. Obtained from this fascinating site here)

Info with help from Radio Radio by Jonathan Hill

Friday, August 26, 2005

The New Plague Warning,

I saw the word ASBESTOS written above the entrance of the derelict Watney's brewery and immediately thought of the stories of Red Crosses being painted on the doors of houses infected with Bubonic Plague.

The list of plagues and risks that the 20th Century has willed to the 21st seems endless. Ten seconds allowed me to think of Asian Bird Flu, resistant TB, global warming, HIV/Aids, Hepititis followed by any number of letters, MRSA .... The list is endless and I stopped the act of remembrance because it is a too painful process. I suspect that soon we will see other doors with other plague warnings. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Watney's brewery by the way was responsible for Watney's Red Barrel a beer that tasted of strawberry jam and which should, if there was any justice, have been seen them in the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Anyone remember their other product aimed at students The Party Six?

Watney's bought up every small brewery in Norwich, closed them down and opened one central super-brewery producing two single local beers Norwich Bitter and Norwich Mild. They were dreadful. No wonder new drinkers turned to continental lagers. And so in turn Watney's was closed. Bad cess to them!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Communicating With Aliens. Nanoo. Nanoo.

CAN 05; Boy meets egg, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Right lets get THAT famous quote out of the way first:

Two nations divided by a common language

It was Oscar Wilde who said it btw. (a man whom everyone knows from the immortal poem "Georgey Porgy pudding and pie, Kissed the Boys and made them cry, His mother said you darling child, I think we have an Oscar Wilde")

It all started when I decided OK I am writing/publishing this weblog primarily as part of my communications with my daughter but I am not writing anything rude or personel so lets invite some others in. And so dear reader, I decided to join some webrings or blogrings or whatever they are called

So I went over to Blogs That Flickr read the instructions as well as I could and filled in the online form,(with excitement I may add, because if you have read my online profile you will know how absolutely exciting I find filling in forms)

I then cut and pasted the script for the blogring (or webring) logo and inserted it into the script for this page and felt I had done a job well done.

Blogs That Flickr
• Join •

Five days later I clicked on the next button on the Blogs That Flickr logo and got a message saying
"Sorry you are still on the Blogs_That_Flickr queue or your site doesn't belong to this ring !!!!!"
I realised that it was still not activated because I need my reg. number or something and went back to their homepage to try and discover what I had done wrong.

What happened next is best described in a thread I posted to The Blogs That Flickr forum

Quoth I

I went to the Blogs That flickr site to read again the conditions of joining and to find out if I was a bona fide member of the ring and how long it should be before I get an approval code emailed to me.
I had to resort to pushing links at random because I did not realise the significance of the phrase The 411 which is the link, I subsequently discovered, to 'learn more about blogs that flickr'
Trial and error has told me that The 411 is the page I needed to read but could someone tell me what is a 411?

Within minutes a bloke named Fishlamp wrote to explain
"411 is the number you can dial on telephones (in the USA) for information (i.e. directory listings). Some use "411" as slang for "information"."
Fishlamp btw from his profile seems a damn good chap and one of us. His photography is excellent too though I may have to go and visit him one day and steal his cameras!

I replied as follows
One lives and learns. If ever I am in Little Rock, Arkansas and need a Pizza I will know who to call!
I thought it was going to be one of those extraodinary numbers you hear being used in American Cop Shows. You know the kind of thing; A voice comes on the car radio and says "Sarge, there is a 411 being perpetrated on the corner of 108 and 12 near the 711" And Kojack (for it is he) replies "Ten Four"
But what really tickles me is that on the page for Blogs that Flickr are written in large letters the words

International or non-English blogs ARE ENCOURAGED to join!

To which I ask, in the light of my utter bafflement on their webpage what about English language blogs

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Barker Memorial. Rosary Cemetery. Norwich

Sacred to the memory of JOHN BARKER, Steam Circus Proprietor. Who was accidently killed on Norwich Cattle Market April 12. 1897. Aged 60 years

Barker Memorial. Rosary Cemetery. NorwichBarker Memorial. Rosary Cemetery. Norwich

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The warm hum of a valve wireless

Philips 'Superinductance' Model 274A by Philips Lamps Ltd. First Marketed 1934. Four valves and a valve rectifier. AC. Table Model. MW/LW. Walnut veneered plywood cabinet. 16in x 13.5in x 8.5in Original Price. £9.9s.0d (£9.45). A triumph of British design and technology (Hurrah).

The Lion, carved from a single piece of mahogany, is most likely a souvenier from the British Empire Exhibition held in Wembley in 1924.

It works very well. This radio is one of the prides of our collections.

Have we missed The Archers Omnibus?

*Technical details compiled with help from the best book on vintage British wireless:
Radio! Radio! by Jonathan Hill
Details here

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Trials Of Photography


So if you are one of those people who go week at the knees at the mention of trousers or prefer to cover the legs of your tables and chairs in case they induce lascivious thoughts in the minds of gentlemen callers you had better stop reading now.

Now we have lost those of delicate sensibility I can explain. Todays log (unfortunate word given the circumstances) is about the difficulty of photographing in Gentlemen's Public Toilets. Let me explain.

I had taken my young menace, eight year old Master Blink, for an outing to Norwich Castle Museum. From Ancient Egypt to Norman life, natural history to modern art, Norwich Castle Museum houses a huge range of displays - including the largest collection of ceramic teapots in the world.

During the visit we stopped off in the cafe for a cup of tea and a bun (My bun was fine but the menace's was worthy of a place in one of the archaelogical displays).

As a consequence I afterwards went with the menace to the public toilet. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the museum in conjunction with Messrs Twyford had arranged for different artists to illustrate both the Urinals and the W.C.s. They were stunning. I must photograph these I thought and instantly whipped out my pocket digital camera.

I then discovered the first difficulty of photographing in Gentlemen's Public Toilets; you have to wait for the automatic flush to get rid of the yellow water (if you understand me) in the bottom of the urinal. I had not realised that it took so long between flushes. Finally it flushed and I focused my camera and waited for the flash to charge and at last I was able to take the photograph shown below.

It was then that I came across the second difficulty in photographing in Gentlemen's Public Toilets; I become aware that someone else has entered the room and is standing behind me.

I turned around and find there is a father clutching his five year old son giving me the kind of suspicious look that a Customs Official gives someone getting off the plane from Columbia who claims to be a talcum powder salesman with samples.

He does not say anything but makes a strange growling noise in the back of his throat. I can see he believes me to be some kind of pornographer hanging around the toilets waiting to photograph his son and heir in the act of answering the call of nature.

There is nothing one can say in this circumstance. Believe me. I know. I thought of a hundred things and they all seemed, somehow, inadequate. I briefly wished I had availed myself of a flickr badge identifying me as photographer general of washrooms, toilets and commodes to Her Majesty The Queen or somesuch.

Meanwhile indignant father was turning red.

So I did what any Englishman, in whom flows the blood of Kings and heros, would do. I made my excuses and left. Quickly. All the while the young menace, Master Blink, wailed "Aren't you going to take any more photos Daddy"

So I will have to pay another 5.95 to return another day to photograph the other four. But I am going to go prepared. I have printed out a notice that reads


which should give me time for the automatic flush, allow the flash of my camera to charge, keep out vigilante parents and let me to take my photographs

When I got home I told the memsahib, Mrs Blink, what had transpired. She was, to say the least, unimpressed and when I asked her if she would go the next day to photograph the Ladies' Public Toilets for me she refused. Point blank. Just like that. And that is the third difficulty of photographing in Public Toilets; there are no girls of true spirit left these days.

Decorated Urinal, Norwich Castle Museum

Friday, August 19, 2005

Singer (& Trumpeter) in the Tony Bennett style. With guest appearance by Robbie.

Another in of my series of street buskers in Norwich.

This one sang rat pack songs to a taped soundtrack stopping only to give Eddie Calvert style trumpet solos. In the meantime his smiling, proud wife/girlfriend stood in the background selling his homemade CDs. An impressive performance that got people singing along and dancing.

Robbie is the guy lying on the ground, in the background, shaving. A well-known Norwich street person (a 'character' even) given to bursts of violent rage that can make him dangerous to approach or even look directly at.

The council and other agencies have repeatedly attempted to house him but his chaotic lifestyle means that he often ends up back 'on the street' or at least sleeping on other peoples floors (a.k.a. sofa-surfing). His behaviour has seen him banned from various hostels and for a while he was living in a tent.

Another Norwich flickr person Munkt0n (a better photographer than I will ever be) has also photographed Robbie. His photograph gets over the sheer 'in your faceness' of the man in a way I never could. Unfortunately for copyright reasons I cannot reproduce it here.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Norwich Prison Gate

Norwich Prison Gate, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Norwich Prison is a remarkable Victorian building

(Well really it should be Norwich Prisons as it is two prisons in one HMP*Norwich and Norwich YOI*)

As I was saying Norwich Prison is a remarkable Victorian building complete with redundant turrets that serve no purpose other than to look pretty. I always feel it would make a very good home for Ronald Searle's St Trinian's School.

Norwich Prison

It was originally built in 1886 as a military barracks and has a commanding position overlooking the city. In fact it sits on the what would be probably the most expensive piece of real estate in Norwich if the Governor ever woke up one morning, decided his pension needed augmenting and hung a For Sale sign outside the front door.
Norwich Prison in morning light

I must point out that despite the title, the gate of the main photograph in this entry, is not the main entrance to the prison. Thats round the back on Knox Road (a street named after the dour 'thou shalt not' Scottish religeous bloke). All the photographs here are taken from the Brittannia Road Side. Brittannia was the insignia of the Norfolk (later the Royal Norfolk) Regiment whose home this once was. The next is a Photo of the same gates in 1893 being guarded by a soldier from the Norfolk Regiment.Norfolk Regiment, Brittannia Barracks 1893

Back to the main photo: Being English I did not like to inquire too closely what those two chaps were doing with the ladder. I was slightly concerned when they called me over and asked me to hold the bottom.

I have, however, waited 24 hours and as there has been no news of an escape from the gaol I reckon they were doing what they should have been and I am not going to be charged with aiding and abetting anyone to abscond.

*Eggsplanation : HMP stands for Her Majesty's Prison and YOI stands for Youth Offenders Institution. I think

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Some Minature Bottles

Some Minature Bottles, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Minature Bottles produced for advertising and promotion. All of them are from the late 1950s and 1960s

From left to right. 1.PLJ (Pure Lemon Juice; 2. Adam's Old Monk Port; 3. Stout especially brewed to promote Wiebull's Barley Seed: 4. Guinness; 5. Harp Lager; 6 Pol Roger Champagne; 7 Pimm's No 4 (that's the Rum based one).

All would have contained the drink advertised on the label except the Pol Roger which has a label on the back which (rather queasily I think) proclaims that it contains sugar syrup. (Did anyone ever say 1953 was a vintage year for sugar syrup. I think not)

The pound coin should allow you to gain some idea of the size of the bottles.

If you live outside the United Kingdom you should know that the pound coin is our largest coin with a diameter of One Metre (aprox 3 feet). This last statement is a lie.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Just Before Sunset

I turned this photograph of the man made dunes at Waxham into the one below by messing about with PaintShopPro and the Virtual Painter plug-in.

Playing about with art programs into the small hours of the morning is, to say the least, addictive behaviour and (in my case at least) often produces unnecessary flummery.

My own feeling is that I may have lost the mystery and loneliness of the sand-dunes at evening and replaced it with a twee sub-Watership Down mock 'countryness'.

Norfolk's ghostly dog Black Shuck could inhabit the first photograph; Only the Tellytubbies could live in the second. The darkened countryside the view looks out on is not only inhabited by the demon dog but is also the site of one of the many spectral mad hunts that haunt England.

The savagery of the local legends (seeing the dog or seeing the hunt is a premonition of your own soon to be violent death) is reflected in the ephemeral nature of human habitation locally. The land is farmed only because of a series of pumps and dykes keep it drained and within living memory the sea has broken through the man made dunes and killed hundreds along the length of the coast.

Global warming (yes. It is happening NOW not in the future) has led to the decision this year to raise the water table by two metres. Eventually the one mile deep strip of farmland along the coast will become saltmarsh again and then finally sea. Remember the story of King Canute. The sea always wins. And that is why I prefer the original dark photograph of the flood protection barrier; it is simply more true.

Just Before Sunset

Monday, August 15, 2005

Small Wave at Waxham

Small Wave

Another photograph from the beach at Waxham, North Norfolk, UK. This picture has been 'messed' around with PaintShopPro and Virtual Painter. I lay down on the sand to take this photo and had to roll backwards very quickly to avoid getting wet.

It is the 'banding' effect I was after. I may even have succeeded. Beach/seaside photography is fascinating in the attempt but probably less interesting to view the results.

Titles below: 'North Sea' 'Boy On The Beach' 'The Great British Holiday' 'Flotsam' 'Jetsam' 'Flotsam: Exploded Bucket'

North SeaBoy on the beachThe Great British HolidayFlotsamjetsommore flotsam: exploded bucket.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Holiday Weather

The beach at Waxham one wet morning.

It is a gamble. Usually the Gods smile on one. We are able to laugh at those who go abroad for their holidays. This year it did not work out. Mostly we were Singing In The Rain ......... or the gale or saying to one another "Was it really that cold last night?"

Who would be a camper in Britain?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Wind Generators / Stormy Sky

A photograph untouched by any 'photo art' program. A view of Poplar Farm, Waxham from my tent showing the double line of wind generators in the distance.

Sometimes called "Norwich-On-Sea" Poplar Farm, Waxham provides a low cost anarchic camp site. (a kind of rock festival unencumbered by bands)