Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Winter Kills

Freezing fog envelopes and hides the usual view of Norwich Cathedral, Castle and City Hall from my bedroom window. Thankfully for our collective peace of mind, it also camouflages the multii-storey car parks which are home to some of our population of rough sleepers.

Old Winter is come with its cold chilling breath
And the leaves are all gone from the trees
All nature seems touched by the finger of death
And the lakes are beginning to freeze
When your minds are annoyed by the wide swelling flood
And your bridges are useful no more
When in plenty you enjoy everything that is good
That's the time to remember the poor

The cold air and snow will in plenty descend
And whiten the prospect around
The keen cutting wind from the north will attend
And cover it over the ground
When the hills and the dales are all candied with white
And the rivers are froze on the shore
When the bright twinkling stars they proclaim the cold night
That's the time to remember the poor

The poor timid hare through the woods may be traced
By her footsteps indented in the snow
When our lips and our fingers are all dangling with cold
And the marksman a-shooting doth go
When the young wanton lads on the river slide
And the icicles hang at your door
When in plenty you are sitting by a warm fireside
You will tremble to think of the poor

For the times fast a-coming when our Saviour on earth
All the world shall agree with one voice
All nations unite to salute the blest morn
And the whole of then earth shall rejoice
When grim death is deprived of its killing sting
And the grave rules triumphant no more
Saints angels and men hallelujah shall sing
Then the rich
will remember the poor

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Taking A Stand

("The stains on the pavement around the Prince Of Wales Road night pissoir," read the original flickr caption, "seem to prove what women have claimed since Thomas Crapper installed the first indoor W.C.; Men may be in possession of powerful weapons but they can't aim them for toffee.")

I was reminded of this photograph and the one below by an item in Victor Lewis-Smith's Funny Old World column in Private Eye this week. Repeating (and translating) a report from the Norwegian publication Faedrelandsvennen it told of the defence of Lise Gjul, principal of Dvergsnes School, regarding her ban on boys standing while urinating. "The problem is that young boys are not good enough at aiming when they stand. We only have space for one restroom, so it has to be used by both boys and girls. And we want it to be a pleasant toilet, not one that is splashed, stained, and stinking of urine."

The whole issue of whether boys should be made to sit or allowed to stand has apparently become a political hot potato and the subject of a rally with Vidar Kleppe leader of the democrat party declaiming "When boys are not allowed to pee in the natural way, the way boys have done for generations, it is meddling with God's work". Political oratory is not dead in Norway it seems or It would be better to say that Political lava-oratory is not dead.

The Alibi - A Gentleman's Is Known By The Company It Keeps
A Gentleman's Is Known By The Company It Keeps originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What Mega Munch was hiding

What Mega Munch was hiding, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

I wish this was a better photograph. The shopfitters are working in the old Mega Munch premises in Prince of Wales Road and they have pulled away the plaster board to reveal an old cast iron Edwardian fireplace with tile surround.

It is not an item of outstanding rarity and beauty and I would not have noticed if it had it not been on this particular street. Prince of Wales Road with it's industrial sized drinking dens and fast flow takeaway restaurants has become a faceless environment of easy wipe Formica and brushed aluminium surfaces where the individual is entirely subsumed. This quirky art nouveauish fireplace is a reminder of a gentler time. I reckon it will have been thrown in a skip by now.

The great fire of Norwich

You can't invent what goes on in London Street these days. Someone (Not me) threw a lit cigarette butt into the rubbish bin and it sat on a styrofoam fast food container and a slight smell hit the autumn air. There was not enough smoke to photograph (as you can see) and the smell was so faint I had to keep sniffing to make sure it was there at all.
"Fair enough" you might say "This is the kind of unintentional accident that happens all the time. Nothing to get worked up about". If one thought it was going to get 'out of control' a concerned passerby could stroll over to the newsagents on the corner and ask for a cup of water to pour over it.

But you would be wrong. PC 1451 (pictured) was sufficiently disturbed to call up the fire brigade who sent a fully crewed fire engine with lights flashing and siren wailing to extinguish the conflagration. By the time they got there it had, of course, burnt out.

What annoys is the cost of the whole exercise. The memsahib and I pay £1300 a year council tax (that's about three pounds a day) and the whole of our annual payment was probably eaten up by the cost of calling out the brigade on this one occasion. If he had only asked me I would have pissed into the bloody bin and saved everyone a lot of time, money and trouble.

Aren't our policemen wonderful? And yes they should be armed.

Looking For A Fire - It's In There Somewhere

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Do We Really Look Like This Photographing The Workforce

There I was stopped at the traffic lights at the corner of Bank Plain and Prince of Wales Road when I noticed this guy atop a step ladder photographing the drones who work in the offices situated in the old Royal Hotel. These he had artistically arranged around the the doorway of the building. I had time to take one photograph of him before the lights changed. What you can't see, is that although the ladder was only three steps high, he had two people holding it steady.

I did a google search to find the correct spelling of acrophobia (the fear of heights) and found this terrific web site called The Phobia List which lists just about every phobia you can shake a hypnotherapist at. In the same way that if one reads a medical dictionary you end up with all the symptoms of all the illnesses described so I have discovered I have a lot of phobias I did not know about.

These include Pogonophobia (Fear of beards), Consecotaleophobia (Fear of chopsticks) and the quite reasonable Aulophobia (Fear of flutes)

While writing the above I have just realised something exciting. By replacing the suffix phobia with phillia the meaning changes neatly from Fear of to Love of hence Genuphobia (Fear of knees) becomes Genuphillia (the Love of Knees). The Phobia List web site thus becomes a excellent tool in my never ending search for new insults. We are so used to being sworn at with obscenities that they no longer have an effect but I can guarantee that if the next time you are cut up at a roundabout, you wind down your window and shout "Isopterophilliac!!!" at the offending motorist you will succeed in stopping the traffic. (An Isopterophilliac is a lover of termites and other wood boring insects by the way).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Going out on the piste

Master Menace Blink tackles the bumpy part of the dry ski slope at Norfolk's Premier Alpine Resort at Trowse.

There has not been much snow this year.......

Friday, December 01, 2006

A hitherto unmentioned addiction to rugs.

A hitherto unmentioned addiction to rugs., originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

My favourite shop.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Aesthetes 0 Philistines 3

I took the dog for a walk by the Great Broad at Whitlingham Country Park, Norwich, Norfolk and saw this sculpture which is always a source of amusement for me.

At the very same moment the sculptor was determining the exact spot that his (or her) work had to be sited to show it off to best advantage, an unknown official was signing a decree that lifebuoys had to be planted at predetermined distances -without variance- along the bank.

I find joy in the fact that no compromise could be found in this clash of titanic egos - one artistic, the other faceless and bureaucratic - with the result that the lifebuoy is partially hidden and thus made useless while the sculpture loses all the effect that should be given by it's solitary position on the waterside.

Further along the waters edge one comes to the Millennium Marker (Illustrated below) which is inscribed with the most awful tosh imaginable. When someone had the idea to put these up did they read what they said? Had they no pride?

Funded by the Royal Bank of Scotland (presumably in revenge for the Highland Clearances, Culloden and the failure of the Jacobite cause) it reads.

We have endured all of time to be here together today,
We are all children of the stars
We have navigated the heavens
We have travelled the earth

Oh please stop. It hurts. Mummy make the cruel man go away.
Whitlingham New Age Tosh

Envoi . A further explanation for the presence of the Life buoy has occurred to me; What happened was the sculpture was so outstanding that it would draw crowds from miles around. People would naturally stand back to admire it and then....................... splash!
The life buoy was installed, as an emergency measure, after a whole minibus worth of the New Catton branch of the Townswomen Guild stepped backwards into a watery grave.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bombed culture

Where the serious daytime drinkers used to meet. Not only the smallest pub in Norwich but quite possibly the darkest as well.

When I first used to visit there it was as a school boy and amazingly it had two bar rooms in the space not one. As underage drinkers we would be sent to the back 'snug' bar and have to sit on the single narrow bench squeezed in between old women with warts on their faces who never spoke without first giving a high pitched single laugh (or was it a sneeze). HA!! How are you love? or HA!! What have you been doing? The landlady would never let us drink more than two pints of bitter or mild. I wish I could remember her name.

Latterly a succession of landlords and ladies managed to move the daytime drinkers out. First their was a failed attempt to turn it into a lesbian pub (whatever that is) and then they stopped serving draught Stella Artois. The final straw was when they made it non - smoking which as any fool knows sounds the death knell for city centre pubs. (Weatherspoons, the MacDonalds of the licensed victuallers trade, attempt to turn all their pubs non-smoking before the ban comes into place lasted just two weeks because the drinkers - smokers and non smokers alike stayed away in droves.)

It also for a long while after his death contained the last piece of writing that Tim Sillence ever committed: regulars jealously guarded the biroed scribble above the gents urinal St Ignatius Loyola Rules Ok. Not I feel one of his better poems.

In the 1960s Tim had run with his friend Giles Bristow Norwich's only alternative bookshop in Bridewell Alley called Bristows. It was here we got our copies of Oz, IT and Friendz. I remember him at this time giving a poetry recital/having a poetry duel with Jeff Nuttall (of Bomb Culture fame) at Studio 5. For the last years of his life Tim drank regularly in the Vine. It was in the Vine that he was last seen alive.

So its goodbye Tim (he died in 2002) and its goodbye The Vine (It died in 2006 but went into a coma some years before)

Postscript: I received a request for more information about Tim so here goes: He was to be honest a minor poet. The local library used to have his complete works which were about two small press volumes and some photocopied and stapled things as well as inclusion in some anthologies.

He was always going to be the next best thing and then suddenly one morning he became someone who missed his opportunities. Drink and drugs did for his "art".

Hugely influential in the Norwich Arts Scene though. He was well loved and the crematorium was too small to hold all the people who came to his funeral.

A search using Google would have found the following three liner which proves really like everything else connected with the Sixties and Seventies it was the singer not the song.
Norfolk is a flat land
within easy reach
of the Himalayas
and a reminiscence by someone called Shaggsy written before Tim's death.
".......I like old Tim but he is one strange boy and he introduced me to the seamier side of Norwich.

I met him in FREEWHEEL next to the Plough in St Benedicts in 1979. Or was that the Brown Derby? He kept refering to every one as his "brother." Being a bit naive I thought, "he must have a big family." He was using it as a Romany address.... As in George Borrow's book. Mmmm The Romany Rye.

"Thank you my brother."

Well we went home to his flat in St Clements Road and I got pissed for the first time on vodka and became quite unecessary. An....he shew me his photo album which appeared to consist of him dressed up in women's clothes standing on a stage somewhere. Probably UEA where he used to perform. Well...I stood up after further madness - Jesus - and was violently sick in the toilet. I lay there for some time too blocking all other traffic to the bog which caused some consternation.. God I was bad. I eventually made it back home with my girlfriend and...thats it really.

Tim boozed in the following main Norwich hostelries: The Shrub house, (Gone). the Plasterers, the Wildman, the Plough, the Derby, (Now the Potty) The Red Lion at the fart Skool.The Dial, (Gone). The Ten Bells Whites near the Royal Bank numerous others but those were his faves and he ended up in the Vine, happy.

I never went to the Shrub house (Exchange Street?) but have heard that it was pretty wild in there. The Dial (Dereham Road) was weird too and kind of dodgy..

All I can say after that lot Tim, is Vodka after Directors bitter doesn't mix at all..

Tim and his mate Giles had the Bristows underground bookshop in the Bridewell Alley but that too is before my time. mid late 70's probably. Giles was normal then but he just went noo nah, quite suddenly in the 1990's

I think what really screwed Tim up the most was Giles. Herein lies a tale.

Giles burnt all Tim's limited edition signed underground books. Irreplaceable, experimental poetry by 60's and 70's "heads." Sorry - alternative types.

His clothes,burnt, sold, worn by Giles. He attempted to fry eggs in White Spirit, burnt/destroyed all Tim's floorboards and woodwork, Poured pound coins down a drain outside the Nuts 'n' Bolts and tried to sell complete strangers old string vests, flip flops and total rubbish he found in the street for silly money. Just being a complete loony. This was consistent behaviour. Not just after a skinfull serious bad craziness. Some of this seems tame but I wouldn't want to be around it.

Tim was in despair with that one. And Giles was his landlord too.

They found Giles dead in the house. After Tim had got the **** out. He'd given up on Giles ever having a normal mind again. I think the inquest returned a verdict of self neglect. The usual high smell had been noted by neighbours. The man died of egg poisoning cos that was all he ate. And onions - his guts must have been in a terrible state. He smoked Gauloise rollups but not once, twice, three times yeah four times - till what he was smoking was more like I don't know what than tobacco. He'd been stiff about ten days.

Sad really, Yes once were Gods! Giles was a qualified lawyer and a nicer, kinder person you couldn't meet but...he burnt out and just went to the devil really. Pore bugger.

These - in the main- were the topics me and Tim jawed on. So don't mention his friend Giles when you see him. I think Tim will write again after he gets his own place once more and is away from the alkies and dopers. Here's hoping. He's a part of Norwich and when I get back the first thing I will do is hit the market for the peas and then go check him out. "

Shaggsy's account is fairly incoherent. It was Giles who tried to sell the the string vests, destroyed the flat etc not Tim. He also fails to mention the "woman in the case".

Tim's longer work The Norwich Speed Wars is not without merit and worth seeking out.

Did I mention that in one period of his life Tim took to wearing a crash helmet because he was tired of hurting his head when he fell over drunk?

Market Forces

'Lizzie' begging, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The news follows my photography! What better epitaph for Milton Friedman the inspiration behind Thatchernomics than a photograph of a heroin addict with severe mental health problems, homeless because her lifestyle is so chaotic, rough sleeping because she is too violent for any hostel to take her, begging on the streets.

Every time I see her and think of the political decisions that have helped her to which ever doorway she is sitting in I am reminded of Nye Bevan's verdict on The Conservative Party; "Less than vermin".

"Hug a hoodie". Don't make me laugh. There are only two sides. Which one are you on?

Don't bother commenting I shall only delete it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's different up North.

This is a photograph from the vault. It was taken in the year 2000 and shows Ken Keating and his ex-Police transit converted to a GrassWatch van in which he would drive around Salford. The van as well as having a lit sign on the back saying "GrassWatch" had painted on it various slogans such as "NO GRASSES NO JAIL" and "Is your neighbour informing on YOU"

Lest anyone think this is charming, eccentric stuff, a bit extreme but what you expect from Class War associates let me draw your attention to the leaflet he would stick through peoples doors (See inset above). Featuring a mans head ringed by a rifle target sight it starts off; "Informing can seriously damage your health. It is a major cause of smashed knee caps and regular visits to the hospital."

I thought of this photo when looking at some photos of the Lowry exhibition uploaded by a flickr contributor and I wanted to demonstrate what a hard town Salford is, full of hard people and consequently how sentimental (almost sweet) Lowry's paintings are. To my mind Lowry converts unpalatable reality into pictures that can be put on any living room wall without causing offense. This is why he is so popular as a hanging for doctors' and dentists' waiting rooms. He is a mere creator of decor pictures that emasculate his subjects. He turns his northern England world into a suburb of Disneyland.

I also put it here for Simon K, a fan of the Smiths, as the photo was taken just a stone throw away (and a lot of stones get thrown in Salford) from the Salford Lads Club.

Oh yeah in an interview with Ken Keating I asked him about Lowry: He gave me a contemptuous look and said "Lowry he was just a f******g rent collector."

May I urge caution in commenting on the subject of this photograph.

I am very upset by how this photo has "degraded" in only six years. It was stored to a Kodak Photo Disk which promised "an estimated lifetime of 100 years or more"
Happily I did not believe the boast and kept the negative. All I have to do now is find it.

One, two, three.

One O' Clock, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Two O' Clock

Three O' Clock

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Way We Were not

Angel in the kitchen, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.
Get out in that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans,
Get out in that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans,
roll my breakfast 'cause I'm a hungry man

I said Shake, rattle and roll
I said Shake, rattle and roll
I said Shake, rattle and roll
I said Shake, rattle and roll
Well, you never do nothin' to save your doggone soul

Provided as a public service; an antidote to all the revisionist histories of the 1950s that are appearing at the moment suggesting that it was a wonderful time. It was not. Oh yeah the sixties were crap as well; think of all those high rise flats and as for the music for every Beatles and Stones album there were twenty by the likes of Brian Poole, the Bachelors or (gulp) the Dave Clarke Five. The best time is always tomorrow.
Her New Appliance

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Gonna make you a star

Gonna make you a star, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

I was witness to one of those moments that the old MGM musicals used to love. The impresario comes up to the poor but talented musician and asks him onto the show. "Stick with me and next year", he says, "Your name will be in lights".

If it had been a movie he would have be wearing an astrakhan coat, be accompanied by a platinum blonde (who later falls in love with the musician) and sucking on an impossibly long cigar. The climax of the scene would have been the buskers, scantily clad passers-by and a comic policeman or two breaking into a Busby Berkeley style routine down London Street, across The Gentleman's Walk and into the provisions market. (There is scope here for Carmen Miranda wearing a hat made of two pineapples, a pear and a bunch of grapes to emerge from one of the remaining Fruit and Veg stalls)

The more prosaic reality on a rainy November afternoon in Norwich is that he is asking them if they would be interested in appearing in one of the three acoustic gigs he organises around local pubs and clubs every week.

But it was still a magic moment and they were delighted.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Unleashing the dogs of law.

Levi McCarthy's Last Caper, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

This is Flossie. She used to belong to Levi McCarthy and was at the centre of the last two fingered salute he gave to the law. She is an old lady now but can still be found every day sleeping in a Norwich City centre jewelry shop

Levi was, depending on your point of view, either a criminal or a counter-culture local hero. Like all such people the stories about him grow and grow but this one I got from the horse's mouth.

In the days just before his death from a heart attack Levi was still a familiar face around Norwich; a big man you could hardly miss him in his blue Crombie coat. He had taken to traveling around on a moped with Flossie his dog in a basket at the front. As someone put it to me 'a young copper up at Bethel Street police station wanted to impress his superiors' and charged Levi with endangering the public because it could cause an accident if the dog jumped out of the basket.

Came the day of the court case. The policeman made his case and Levi who was defending himself stated that his dog would never jump out of the basket. He then persuaded the magistrates to go outside the courtroom and look for themselves. He had he explained left her in her basket in the car park. There then followed five minutes of farce as various officers of the court unsuccessfully tried to call and cajole Flossie out of the basket. As a result the case was dismissed and Levi was found not guilty.

It was quite easily done of course. Levi had got up at 6am that morning and taken Flossie for a twenty five mile walk. The dog was so tired it could not have got out of that basket if it had wanted to.

My favourite Levi story I got from one of the night editors of the Eastern Daily Press after he had left his job and become a stamp dealer. In the late 1960s he had been at work in the press office when they got a visit from an angry Levi holding a baseball bat. The cause of the fury was that they had reported one of his court appearances and in it had called him McCarthy throughout. This he felt was disrespectful. Those present agreed (unsurprisingly) without hesitation, the anger subsided and their visitor left. After that visit Levi was always called Mr McCarthy in the local press and never plain McCarthy.

Levi died in 2002

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not quite solid state

Flickr Flicker, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

What need for a DVD or Video when you have these gorgeously gaudy Japanese flicker books? They don't leave a carbon footprint either as they do not require electricity and they do not deteriorate like magnetic or digital media. It is a shame how much room "Gone With The Wind" would take in this medium though.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I knew he was an artist as soon as I saw his hat

His painting features a Guildhall Hill where all the taxis, drunks, Big Issue sellers, hoodies and old people have been removed and replaced by a few slender figures. His apocalyptic vision of Norwich seems to be of a place where the lunchtime crowds have been wiped out by disease and replaced with only the young and beautiful. A kind of Oscar Wilde bomb one presumes.

Is this a clue to why he pulls his brand new Panama down over his head and lifts his collar to hide his face? He cannot bear to stand alongside the glorious, mishapen, humanity passing him by.

Friday, October 13, 2006

21st Century Narcissus

Sunburst, originally photographed by Colonel Blink.

I asked him the question everyone must ask him; how long does it take him to "do" his hair and he told me 40 minutes.

"Oh well", I said "Everyone needs a hobby"

He then gave me that look; the one everybody does eventually.

I did not ask him the question everybody wants to ask him but doesn't dare; "How do you sleep at night"

There is a limit to just how long strangers will let you photograph them: after taking one last snap I made my excuses and left.


Spikes originally photographed by Colonel Blink


Draw!, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

We get a lot of them round Riverside Road; artists following the Leslie Davenport trail of where to paint in Norwich. They target Pulls Ferry or Cow Tower or, as in this case, Bishop's Bridge and the nearby houses that are so quaint and expensive that only Savilles sell them. They usually dress in crew cut sweaters or those blue fishermen's smock things and sometimes will even have a knotted red handkerchief around their necks as a badge of office. If they are good enough they prefer to exhibit in the Assembly Rooms for a week every year. If not you will find their paintings on the walls of those coffee shops in Broadland or North Norfolk that have placemats that look like pizza bases and sell eratz homemade jam and Norfolk Lavender as a sideline.

This pair (whom my lawyers advise me to point out are not like the stereotype above) arrived together and moved to opposite sides of the street where they faced each other like Western gunmen at high noon. Sadly though they were not painting each other.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Changing Tastes

The takeaway formerly known as............
AFTER: "The takeaway formerly known as............" a photo by Colonel Blink

They Changed it! The name of the takeaway on Prince Of Wales Road formerly called Tasteless and noted in this entry of mine has changed it's name to Tastebuds by the simple expedient of removing the less and replacing it with buds on its signboard as can be evidenced by the different style of font.

'Give me the blandest thing on the menu'

" 'Give me the blandest thing on the menu' " a photo by Colonel Blink

It is fun to speculate what brought about this change in policy from probably the first example of truthful advertising to hit Prince of Wales Road.
1. It was some kind of post-modernist joke that did not come off. Customers were put off by the name and the staff became pissed off by drunks demanding their money back because the food tasted of something if only monosodium glutamate and various E numbers.
2. The owners do not have English as a first language (as is the case with the proprietors of many takeaways) and it took a while to realise that tasteless is not the same as tastiness.
3. The signwriter made a mistake having misheard what he was supposed to write.
4. The signwriter, the brother in law of the owner, deliberately made a mistake because he hates his sister's husband.

In fact, as is often the case, speculation is more fun than knowing the truth so I will not investigate the matter.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gurney Clock, Castle Mall, Norwich

Multi-Cultural Society

Not quite a gentleman, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

I am, as I hope everyone realises, the most politically correct of people; I will interact with practically anyone. And then I saw that his bow tie was a clip-on and his dinner jacket and trousers were off the peg and I realised he was not one of us so I cut him dead. Was I wrong? I think not.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

I don't know what I like but I do know about art.

Art Class, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Just as one always wishes Morris Dancers possessed some kind of rhythm and did not prance around stiffly just missing the beat so I always wish that I could love the art of any of the pavement artists I have seen.

I am always reminded of an exhibition of Prisoner's art I once saw which seemed to comprise of surprisingly well crafted pictures of alsations and other pet manly dogs, garlands of flowers around the word mother, bikers sprouting angel wings and riding into heaven and (of course) pneumatic page three girls. There were no grounds, for me, to either appreciate or criticise what was on show because the aesthetic was so very different to mine own. It was so different, in fact, that I came away not feeling superior because of my better taste but reproaching myself for being a snob.

This guy has been chalking his pictures in the centre of Norwich for at least twenty years.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sally Ann and the Devil's best tunes

Raising the Maypole, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The Salvation Army is an entirely estimable organisation which works tirelessly for the least well off in Britain and I both admire them and the work they do. I do find it, however, a delightful irony that the Salvation Army rent a shop in Lower Goat Lane, Norwich which has seven protected by statute stained glass pictures depicting an imaginary and entirely pagan medieval world. That a temperate, straight laced organisation like the Sally Ann is forced to play host to a series of pictures depicting drunken revelry and in one case a picture full of sexually charged imagery has been a matter of joy to me since they first opened the Charity Shop in the early 1970s.
But then I probably need to get a life.

In the picture above three men, one stripped to the waist raise a sturdy maypole. In the background a woman lewdly plays the bagpipes. Next to her another woman tries to restrain a child. Not the average kind of image that appears in the War Cry.

This above is the only panel with any name or signature that I can find; It reads Yuletide P C H Bacon but whether this means they were the work of the London based stained glass manufactures Messrs Percy Bacon & Bros I am unable to say. The other six panels are not all yuletide scenes; which begs the question have some others in the shop been destroyed with time.

Were panels like this available 'off the shelf' to be put into pubs, shops and homes? Certainly we have all seen stain glass windows inserted into turn of the century homes and pubs.

The heads in all the panels look as if they could be used in other pictures. Witness the chap on the right above; He could be used for an Apostle or even Christ.

The Punch Bowl

Apologies for all the converging lines and strange angles in this series. I was having to duck behind and above furniture, cupboards and customers to take them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Market Farces.

Much hot air has been expended about the recent reorganisation of the market. I feel it might be interesting to show the second reorganisation (the first was in Victorian times) that was completed in 1936. Market, Memorial Gardens and City Hall were designed to be one homogenous whole along with various improvements to roads and tree planting along the Walk and beneath the Guildhall.

This (probably copyright) picture is taken from the Souvenir programme for the opening of Norwich City Hall 1936. This is the sketch that was provided by the architects (C H James and S Rowland Pierce) after they won the the architectural competition held to choose a new design for the building. The layout for the market was designed by Robert Atkinson.

City Hall did not quite turn out as in this picture but the market did. Please note the presence of a tram in the foreground and also the statue of the Duke of Wellington which was later moved to the Cathedral Close. It was still envisaged that all the stalls would be cleared away at the end of each day allowing a space for meetings, dances etc. Ironically given how claustrophobic the market has become the programme says "It has been the aim of the Corporation to ensure that the new Market Place shall form part of a civic centre worthy of a City famous for its open spaces."

Edwin Lutyens' war memorial has been moved from below the Guildhall and placed in "a terrace garden which it is hoped, will make a colourful foreground to the new building and also a position of dignity for the War Memorial. Beneath the terrace a large vault has been constructed in which the Market Stalls will be stored when not in use."

"The Market Stalls for the most part will be open wooden stalls of the usual type, which will be of a uniform design. The fishmongers and butchers, however, will be provided with a box type stall designed to keep the fish and meat exposed for sale free from dust and dirt"

"All the stalls will be covered with canvas tilts of varying colours, so that the Market will lose nothing of its previous picturesque appearance."

The Angel Of The East

Long before Anthony Gormley had built The Angel Of The North. it was envisaged to have a 30 foot tall angel perched 185 feet above the City of Norwich. I am sorry that it never was built.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I wandered lonely as a clod

The morning after I took these photographs, what should fall out of my copy of The Guardian but a giveaway wallchart called Clouds identifying the more common types of (surprise, surprise) cloud.

I think that these are altocumulus stratiformis from looking at the pictures but I suppose they could be stratocumulus lenticularis

That is the problem of all handbooks and guides; You need to be an expert in the field in the first place to be able to interpretate the photographs. An ex-neighbour of mine used to get over this by refering to all flowers as geraniums and all birds as pigeons or robins. 'If you say it firmly enough' he would say, 'No one questions you.'

But conferring the ability to be confused while attempting to identify clouds is not the best thing about my free wall chart. At the bottom of it, written in letters so tiny that you need an electron microscope to read it, are the words "with thanks to the Cloud Appreciation Society" and yes they have a website. Full of lovely photographs but also (may God have mercy on our souls) poetry featuring (I quote) "members’ and visitors’ poems that are cloud related".

Mind you I am feeling very let down. I was brought up on

Red sky at night,
Shepherd's delight.
Red sky in morning,
Shepherd's Warning.

but instead of the warm and balmy weather this verse makes it my right to enjoy, it is really pissing down with rain this morning. I feel really betrayed. To whom does one complain about this sort of thing? Can I sue? We expected better under New Labour.

Over the garden wall: Sunset
Over the garden wall: sunset originally uploaded by Colonel Blink

Friday, September 22, 2006

Me and the one and only Billy Shears.

That the singer's going to sing a song
And he wants you all to sing along
So let me introduce to you
The one and only Billy Shears
And Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Walking through Norwich I saw this van stopped on double yellow lines.
I wanted to photograph the man who had taken the name of a character from one of the Fab Four's most famous songs but he would not let me. "You can photograph the van", he said "but not me in these clothes". (He was wearing pre-faded blue denim jeans and jacket, a black t-shirt and a black machine knitted wooly hat without a bobble if you are wondering). I offered him a light for his roll up and left him to his sartorial inelegance.

As I walked off to cross the road on my way home I caught him out of the corner my eye watching me go wistfully. Oh God seemed to be written on his face what if he was with the New Musical Express and I am watching opportunity stroll away?

Anyway let me introduce to you his one and only van.

Colonel Blink finds it necessary to point out that there are hundreds of musicians calling themselves "Billy Shears"; here for example is a Scottish group and here is a chap in Canada. None of them, to my knowledge, is the "real" Billy Shears. As far as I know the name Billy Shears came from the nickname of the man who used to cut the Beatle's hair (a dab hand with a pudding basin presumably but utterly crap on guitar). I could be wrong but I realy do not care. Please stop emailing me. It's only show-biz and therefore "nothing is real and nothing to get hungabout". Get a life.

Leather and Chrome

Leather and Chrome, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

I don't know who owns or rebuilt this Yamaha. It was parked on the pavement outside an amusement arcade (which somehow figures) with no one about to lay claim to it. A careful 0bserver will find divers portraits of the photographer reflected by the chrome.

This is not your average babe catching machine though because it is designed for a solitary rider. The exhaust pipes are presumably why there is no room for a passenger behind; anyone sitting pillion would have their feet burnt off.

In the interests of International Harmony I print these extracts from that excellant though entirely imaginary publication The Rough Guide English- American Dictionary

Pillion: noun
A seat behind the rider of a horse or motorbike etc.
Pavement: noun

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I went in for a tetnus booster and came out with an acute aphid infestation

No, this is not the counter of a garden centre. This is the reception desk of my doctor's surgery. It is a jungle out there. The waiting room may be full to bursting but over half the place is given up to a tropical rainforest.

Only we don't have doctor's surgeries any more: we have health centres. This is the Woodside Health Centre but perhaps Woodinside would be a more appropriate name.

No need to wonder where all the millions of pounds the government has poured into the health service has gone because it is quite plain: Its all been spent on bloody Baby Bio.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Night Terrors

Night Ridden, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

There is no need to believe in headless horseman and ghostly apparitions when steel and chrome can move so mysteriously in the night. In Hammer horror films they lock the doors and close the shutters to protect themselves from the undead; In the 21st century we do the same but to protect ourselves from our fellows.

Maybe the supernatural has updated itself for modern times and instead of the Flying Dutchman and spectral Carriages we have broken bicycles; only we have innoculated ourselves with countless viewings of Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chain Saw Massacre and no longer can recognise the marvellous. Or maybe the manmade horrors of Darfur is more horrifying than anything the spirit world can produce.

The next day - morning is broken

The next day - morning is broken originally uploaded by Colonel Blink

Six hours later it has moved down the road under the cloak of darkness. By the next night it will probably be in the river. By coincidence that day I heard Jeremy Hardy on the radio say "Pavements are for pedestrians, roads are for cars and canals are for bicycles"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How to talk like a toff.

Trowse, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

This sign seems to be making a derivational link between the village name Trowse and Tree-House. Trowse is pronounced to rhyme with house unless you are one of the upper classes when you will pronounce it trice. In the same way that they call a house - hice and trousers become tryzers. Similarly you will hear garage pronounced gararge (the second syllable pronounced to rhyme with the first syllable of Argentina.

Which reminds me.

In the 1980s a titled bigwig from the board of Debenhams decided to pay a call on it's Norwich branch to rally the troops and check everything was running smoothly. British Telecom had not long been privatised and the store manager proudly showed off the special display of telephones on sale. The window dressers had gone to town and they nestled in a jungle of house plants.

"How much is that fern?" said the bigwig. "There is no price ticket".
"The ferns are not for sale" explained the store manager "They are there for display purposes only which is why they are not marked with a price"
"How much is that fern?" insisted the bigwig in a louder voice.
The store manager felt harrassed now. It is not for sale he explained but if 'Sir' would like it, we can have the plant put in his car as a gift from the Norwich store.
"No. No" said the titled bigwig now quite cross 'I mean how much is that telefern"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The damn dog

Sea sky and sand, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

'poorly' eye
Those of a sentimental nature may care to know that we cured his eye completely by using the traditional treatment of throwing twenty five quid at a vet.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A blood moon hangs overhead

A blood moon hangs overhead, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Monday, September 04, 2006

'Give me the blandest thing on the menu'

You really can't make it up; a restaurant called Tasteless.

Presumably some kind of post-modernist ironic joke to catch the eye of passing punters. Yum I can't wait to have one of their pizzas. Unless of course by tasteless they mean that the burgers are all in the shape of willies and the waiting staff dress up as concentration camp guards.

I confidently expect the arrival of a burger house called Catmeat. Soon.

After all we already have in the City of Norwich the Silver fish and chip shop

Friday, September 01, 2006

There are a thousand stories in Norwich City and this is one of them

10pm. Wednesday August 30th.

I am walking through Norwich, going to the pub.

A man is sitting cross legged on a blanket and works on his Apple notebook in the open porch to Bethel Street Police Station. He is totally focused on the task in hand and as I walk past he does not lift his head. He gives no sign that what he is doing is anything other than ordinary.

The situation is similar to one of those Edward de Bono lateral thinking tests where an odd situation is postulated and you have to give a rational interpretation but truthfully no matter how hard you try you will not come up with a totally satisfactory explanation.

I stop, turn and take a photograph. Thus another strange occurance is catalogued and almost made safe. I reflect that I am not the only one to have mechanisms to keep the bizarre at bay. I light a Hamlet and continue my walk to the pub.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The World's Shortest Ghost Story

Not, I hasten to add, my own creation; It was first told to me over thirty years ago as a joke.

Two strangers were talking.

"I do not believe in ghosts" said one.

"Don't you?" said the other as he vanished.

Other people's camps - Smoke Ghost
Other people's camps - Smoke Ghost a photograph by Colonel Blink.