Friday, March 31, 2006

St Fabian & St Sebastian Parish Church, Woodbastwick, Seat arm.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ghost Story

My grandmother first told me this story when I was about ten years old. It is a tale of a past vicar of Ranworth Church and his dog. She said she had been told it when she was a child before the First World War and it is, I am sorry to to report to lovers of gore, the kind of ghost story that could be quite properly told to an Edwardian child. It had stayed in her mind because it featured a faithful dog and that was the kind of story (Black Beauty, Beautiful Joe) she liked and if not exactly local to her in those pre motor car days(she lived in Fundenhall some 25 miles away!) it was at least set in the same county.

This vicar of St Helen's Church, Ranworth in the county of Norfolk had a dog who would follow him everywhere; even into church when he conducted services. If he was not allowed to follow his master the dog would sit outside and howl loud enough to drown out the service. At last the vicar gave in and allowed the dog to follow him into the Church but only after the congregation had agreed to allow him to build a gate onto the communion rail to keep the animal out of the Sanctuary and away from the altar.

The dog lived for several more years, attending every service that his master officiated at but finally he died.

"And they do say" continued my grandmother in the best tradition of these stories "that even today if you walk around the churchyard you will feel a snuffling at your heels because the ghost of this dog continues to haunt Ranworth"

There is, of course, a sub-text. This is not a ghost story but (it sounds to me) an elaborate satirical joke about Ranworth and the High Anglican Church. Whether a Church has a gate on its altar rail or not was one of the markers as to whether it is high or not. If it is a satire then one can only presume that the dog is supposed to stand as a metaphor for the Oxford Movement or Anglo-Catholicism or the suchlike. And the ghost of the dog, the story goes, lives on in Ranworth...... That is my theory anyway.

As far as I know my grandmother, and she was no fool where these matters were concerned, saw it as just a ghost story to tell her ten year old grandson. My theory is that as a young girl she was handed in the street or elsewhere one of the many anti-Catholic pamphlets that were circulating at the time; this one aimed at what was seen as the Popish leanings at Ranworth. Her eye missed all the bits about purple plots and the malign influence of Rome and just settled on the story of the Vicar and the dog because that was, as I have already explained, a story that would have attracted her.

Unless, of course, you have walked Widdershins around Ranworth Church and felt a snuffling at your heels.

Links: My photographs of Ranworth Church are here. The Norfolk Churches Site entry about Ranworth is here

St Helen's Ranworth Graveyard and Oak tree
St Helen's Ranworth Graveyard and Oak Tree

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Smoke on the road to Ranworth

Smoke on the road again, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Another messed around photograph. The original is here

Smoke on the road

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Painting The Crowds With Sunshine

I have seen him before. His paintings always seem to turn Norwich from a East Anglian market town into a multicololoured place under a Mediterrean sky. I only wish I could love them

"When I pretend I'm gay,
I never feel that way,
I'm only painting the clouds with sunshine.
When I hold back a tear,
To make a smile appear,
I'm only painting the clouds with sunshine.
Painting the blues, beautiful hues,
Coloured with gold and old rose.
Playing the clown, trying to drown, all of my woes.
Tho' things may not look bright,
They'll turn out alright,
If I keep painting the clouds with sunshine."

Painting the Clouds with Sunshine (song)
music by Joe Burke, lyrics by Al Dubin

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Man In A Suit And Tie Juggling In Gentlemen's Walk, Norwich

Juggling in Gentlemen's Walk, Norwich, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Is that a drug buy going on in the background?
..............and where is that woman in the glasses putting her left hand?
..............and what is she watching that makes her do it?
..............and is that man really going to buy Harry Potter & The Franchise Of Gold from H.M.V.?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Pig-a-back, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Anyone know the rules for this one. Like Ludo (and its brother called Uckers in the Royal Navy) it appears to be a variation on the Indian game of Pachisi. I only have the board of which this is the label. Ludo was introduced in Britain in 1880 or 1896 depending on which book you read. The former seems more likely since the Pig-a-back board bears the registration mark 173533 which dates it at 1891.

Other Victorian-Edwardian Pachisi variations included Royal Ludo and Monarch Ludo.

One other worthwhile (although I bet there are a lot more) link is Pachisi & Ludo - pc games, rules & history

The board measures roughly twelve and a half inches square. If you want a large copy of the board you will have to click on the picture below and join flickr (which is free) and then click the all sizes button above the photograph.

Pig-a-back board

Monday, March 20, 2006

Opie Street - Devil's Alley

Opie Street - Devil's Alley, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Given that seventy five per cent of Opie Street is given over to one firm of solicitors and one firm of stockbrokers it would be fitting if the name of Opie Street were to revert to Devil's Alley - although perhaps this would be a little unfair on the Devil.

Spike Box (The way we live now)

The purple cast comes from the UV lamps which illuminate the Norwich Market toilets. The lights were put there to try and stop junkies from being able to find a blue vein to inject into. This attempt at stopping addicts from using the toilets for this purpose was, of course, a failure. Hence the need to place a spike box for discarded syringes in the facility. The pictograms of a razor blade and a safety pin are red herrings to sooth the worried feelings of mothers sending their children into the public conveniences.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Last Man Out

Last Man Out, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Tales From A Riverbank

It had been minus four degrees centigrade the night before. Hidden in some bushes was some clothes and a half full, blue, litre bottle of cider. The Sun had turned the previously frozen ground into a quagmire. Of the sleeper there was no sign but his sleeping bag was coated in mud. Just behind the tower there is a sign that welcomes visitors to NORWICH A FINE CITY.

Friday, March 17, 2006


SET, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

In Classical Egyptian mythology Set was an evil beast-headed god with high square ears and a long snout; brother and murderer of Osiris. His worship was brought to Thorpe Hamlet by the Romans and that his cult still exists in some of the darker parts of Norwich (ie The Pilling Park Estate) can be seen from this example of graffitto on Riverside Road. The rituals of the devotees of Set are infamous for their central use of animal and human sacrifice. No child is safe while this cult is allowed to continue.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Poetry Trail: A True Story

Poetry Trail: A True Story, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

This is a strange one. I walked out of my front door on Sunday morning to find that someone had carefully laid a trail of pages torn from an anthology of love poetry for about 300 metres along the opposite roadside.

Was someone saying adieu to love? Was it some sort of art installation? Was it literary criticism? Was it farewell to a hated set text? Was it a ceremony and ritual? Was it rage or pain or laughter or disdain?

As I watched the wind started to move the pages from their appointed places; they had been all facing the same way, all roughly the same distance apart and if a parked car was in the way then they had been placed underneath.

You get an altogether better class of litter in Thorpe Hamlet

There was something unsettling and hysterical if not unwholesome in the way they had been arranged. I walked down the hill to look into the river (The scene of two suicide attempts already this year) but when I got there no one was drowning.

The roads and streets were Sunday empty. I carried on to the newsagents and bought a newspaper and some milk. Then I returned home and made myself a bacon sandwich.

By lunch time, the pages of torn poetry had drifted like autumn leaves into odd corners and doorways, their sequence broken for ever.

Adrian Mitchells ended up in the gutter just like his teacher predicted

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Imaginary CD

Norwich Buskers Title, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The title picture to a flickr set called Norwich Buskers.

This set features photographs of musicians (and others!) playing on the streets of Norwich. All the photographs have been taken with their permission. I have attempted, with this title page, to create the cover to an imaginary CD featuring their music.

This picture was made using Mosaic Maker utilising photographs that make up the set and then made more exciting with Paint Shop Pro and Virtual Painter.

It may not be art but it certainly wastes a lot of time.

I have not finished it but am pausing before I do any more.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Seeking Immortality, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The Actual And The Actuarial

two of these people will be unhappy for most of their lives,
half of them will have marriages that end in divorce,
one of them will have a cat that does not prefer Kit E Kat,
four will be a victim of violent crime,
five of them will suffer from clinical depression,
one will be saved by the love of a good woman,
three will never fully acknowledge their sexuality,
three more become vegetarians (though one of these makes an occasional secret exception for bacon),
one will be a taxi driver
another a nurse.

Over a half never know true poverty.
Three of them will have criminal records but one of these while in jail finds Jesus.
Some of them will have children, all of whom will be either male or female.
All except two will, at one time in their lives, own cars.
One of them will die before they are eighteen.
Most of them, at some time, will worry about their appearance
One will become blind while another becomes a millionaire.
Two will fail the Pepsi test
One will be stuck in a broken lift for two hours with a man called Don
while another is destined to spend sixteen hours every week watching Soap Operas on television.
There is at least one alchoholic
A heroin addict
There is also someone who life is given over to good works.
And another who buys a lottery ticket every week of his life but never wins the jackpot.
There is the one who will read The Guardian while many of the rest choose The Sun.
One of them will spend their twenty first birthday in Spain.

All of them fall in love
most of them with other people.

All of them will die.
Most of them will be sadly missed.

With a pin you can choose which.

Victorian Postbox, Prince Of Wales Road, Norwich

Marked V R but it does not have a crown insignia. (The first I have seen without this royal mark). It is quite short being not much over four foot tall.

This last is interesting to me. Family legend has it that my great-uncle Henry Buchanan (whom I was partly named after) would win drinks by betting that he could jump onto the top of a pillar box. Maybe this lower style of box was the secret of his success.

Incidently the post office often moves around boxes; on Rosary Road the Victorian wall box was replaced by a George VI one about ten years ago.

Here is another Victorian Postbox.
Black Post Box

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Street Lamp

Street Lamp, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.