Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Scent and Sensibility

Has anyone else noticed that since the smoking ban when you walk into a pub it is common to be able to smell the toilets? Either the Jeyes Fluid or more usually the lack of it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Other

Reflected trees in the Wensum River, Norwich, Norfolk.

"'I should be ill,' she continued, 'if I did not live on the borders of the fairies' country, and now and then eat of their food. And I see by your eyes that you are not quite free of the same need; though, from your education and the activity of your mind, you have felt it less than I.'"
George MacDonald - Phantasteses

It is supposed to be viewed large.

Later Note Only ten year old Master Menace Blink shares my sense of the otherness of this landscape stating unprompted "This photo is really weird. It is both night and day." No one else has given it a second glance. ho hum I will just have to plough a lonely furrow.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

straw and string

straw and string, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Well its straw and wool really but that is not alliterative. I suppose I could have written wheat and wool which is alliterative but somehow not le mot juste so I didn't. Very popular in and traditional to Austria, I have been told, these kind of tree decorations.

Are they like corn dollies and you are supposed to destroy them before the next planting or be cursed for the next year? I don't know.

And finally.........

Why are their only 25 letters in the alphabet at Christmas time?

Because the angel said No L

What do they sing outside Psychiatric Hospitals in Germany at Christmas time?

God Rest Ye Gerry Mentalmen

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


While following the abysmal Ice Sculpture Trail through Norwich I saw "The Singing Snowmen" coming out of City Hall. It is actually Tom Carver leading the usual suspects. We traded insults and sneered at each other and then they melted away.

I have since learned that the sculptures were taken to nearby Earlham Park to melt away naturally. I wish they had brought one round to my house as I could have added lemon, tonic and gin to it. That way I could have, at least, got something pleasurable out of the event.

Snowbusiness like showbusiness
Snowbusiness like Showbusiness uploaded by Colonel Blink.


MG, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Monday, December 17, 2007

When Norwich Became An Icy Wasteland

Oh god, today we took the Menace and a friend of his around the Norwich Ice Sculpture trail and boy was it tedious. Even worse than The Gt. Yarmouth Festival Of Sand Sculpture Massacre. Something felt by most of the onlookers who instead of looking at the so-called art photographed it instead. Presumably so they could look at it at another time when they felt mentally stronger. Like the sand sculptures this photograph makes them look better than they were in reality and that is not saying much.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Baby, it's cold outside

Frost & Fog4, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mast Base

Mast Base, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

About twenty years ago this corner of the River Wensum, next to the mortuary that has turned into Zaks Hamburger restaurant, was given a face lift. Seats were put in, a large notice board describing the history of the area was erected and a Wherry mast was installed as a flag pole. After a few months the notice board was burnt and the seats had had an axe taken to them.

All that remains now of the revamp is the sign announcing the totally made up name for the spot -Petch's Corner- peeping through the forest of weeds, litter and discarded syringes and the mast.

Unfortunately when "they" concieve of these schemes and get funding for installing them they never get money for the upkeep and for the lack of a coat of varnish or even creosote the mast is rotting away and will soon either fall down or have to be taken down.

Sic transit Gloria Mundi which as any fule kno translates as "Every Monday Gloria gets travel sick".

Wherry mast flag pole

Norfolk Harpys

Norfolk Harpys, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

These were modelled on woman who, still to this day, can be found in the smaller, more remote North Norfolk villages.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Early Bird

Lines written on hearing the first carol singer of Christmas November 27th 2007 but at least he waited unlike the TV adverts till after Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night.

To the editor of The Times

Dear Sir,
Today I heard the first carol of Christmas sung on the street. Is this a record?

Yours etc.
Colonel Blink

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Smoking in public

But a cigar is a good smoke, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

I saw these two come out of the tobacconists opposite Jarrold's corner, Norwich and with great ceremony and ritual light their cigars.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In Stone

The Rosary Burial Ground, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.


For more photographs of "The Rosary" click here

The Rosary Burial Ground - Morning Light The Rosary Burial Ground - That Angel again

Friday, November 02, 2007


Progress, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

A few 19th and 20th Century Cream Bottles and jugs photographed to demonstrate how ignorant and savage our ancestors were. All these were reusable; it was a simple matter to return them to the milkman, have them washed and sterilised and reused. How much better our modern method of putting cream into plastic pots and sending them to a landfill. How clever we are to have realised that it is better to smash up bottles and "recycle" them rather than wash and use them again.

Back-row (l-r) 1. Earthenware jug. incised mark Western Counties Creameries. 2. Earthenware jug. No Mark 3. Earthenware Pot with Registration Mark. 4. 1960s Glass bottle. MMB (Milk Marketing Board)

Front Row (l-r) Earthenware jug. Makers mark - the Dorset Pottery. Earthenware pot - Hailwoods Rich Cream Manchester

Friday, October 26, 2007

Culinary Names Explained; No 1. Beef Wellington

In Norwich's Cathedral Close the Iron Duke is depicted in the act of pulling back his coat presumably to expose himself. There must be a joke about not going out without first pulling on your rubbers in there somewhere.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The same only different

This chap is a well photochopped version of the skull previously recorded with a mate here

Friday, September 21, 2007


Cube, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Sometimes I wonder if I am over stating my case when I describe Norwich Castle as the ugliest building in Norwich and then I look at it and realise that I am, if anything, being generous. Even THAT hotel down Duke Street or the wonder that is Anglia Square are beautiful when set against Old Norwich Prison.

Mind you the art galleries inside the Castle work better for me than the sterile oppressive interior of the Sainsbury Centre with its ever present, almost subsonic hum of air conditioning and its strange grey light. Gosh oh golly. Two sacred cows in one posting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Learning new skulls.

Both spotted in St Andrew's Church Norwich: this last one for those who prefer a skull rather than cream on their fruit salad....

St Andrew Norwich

Sunday, September 16, 2007

St Andrew Norwich - Green Man

Seen in the Parish Church of St Andrews in Norwich. A tiny Green Man on the Victorian Stone reredos which is a surprise to say the least. I cannot think of any other Green Man within the Sanctuary area of any church anywhere else.

Forget contemporary new age drivel about Green Men. In medieval symbolism the Green Man was not a man but a beast without a soul, a creature who was wholly subservient to every gross need and drive. He is completely without intellect, compassion or guilt. He is a monster that takes what he wants, when he wants it.

The oak leaf strewn face was a popular design with both Gothic revival and Arts and Crafts designers but they knew exactly what the symbolism meant. Christianity is heavily dependent on symbols (the Cross, The Dove, etc. ) and they fill our churches -so why did the Victorian mason decide to put this one by the altar?

It is tiny, being only a few inches tall. All the other panels in line have the oak leaves but not the face. If you do not know it is there you will not find it. (If you do go in search of it: you will find it immediately behind the cross and to the left.)

Hidden or not. Every Sunday the congregation kneel in prayer before the Cross and a tiny stone carving of a rapist. Which is weird

Friday, September 07, 2007

More than a junk store

St Mary The Less, Norwich, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Daily Mail and Daily Express readers look away now.

The state of the interior of St Mary The Less almost makes me believe in the conspiracy theory of history. This particular church is a solid representation of one of the most glorious revolutions in Norwich's history and is also a beacon of hope for the future of our whole country. I do not understand how we can allow a building like this which should be a place of secular pilgrimage to be treated in this manner.

This church was given to The Strangers, Dutch refugees from religious persecution to be used as their own. If you look at the parish records for the church you find they start off being written in their own language but after a hundred years or so they continue in English. But this was not the subsumation of a smaller culture into a greater one; The Dutch Strangers changed forever the politics, the culture and the economics of the whole of Norfolk.

It was not without it's stresses as can be read here but the history of St Mary The Less proves that multiculturalism works. It has all happened before. Actually the present wave of economic migrants is as nothing when you think that at one point one quarter of the population of Norwich was Dutch and Walloon.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Death Of Language

Uh what? What the hell is contemporary dining and drinking?

Scene: The Bull public house in Ambridge. Sid Perks, the landlord, is behind the bar polishing glasses, his wife Jolene is out of sight in the kitchen. Occasionally the sound of her humming "Stand By Your Man" wafts through the whole pub.

Sid Perks: Would you like a drink gentlemen?
Doctor Who (for it is he): I am trying to work out if I want a pint of contemporary Stella Artois or whether I want to get in the Tardis and go back in time to 1982 and redrink the non contemporary but very historical Harvey Wallbanger I drank then.
Doctor Sam Beckett: Oh boy. Not again. It was bad enough the first time. Besides if you go back in time that Harvey Wallbanger then becomes contemporary.
etc. etc

Thursday, August 30, 2007


A strange featureless empty place - The drained marshes that lie between Great Yarmouth and Acle. A place of extremes: it is freezing cold in winter with nothing to protect you from the wind and the rain and the frost conversely on a hot summer's day the heat can become unbearable.
The Big Nothing - Halvergate Marshes 1

The Big Nothing - Halvergate Marshes 3The Big Nothing - Halvergate Marshes 1

Double tags

Formerly known as Willie, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Engineer, sculptor, cello maker, furniture maker, toy maker Willie Bailey displays his hospital label on his right wrist and his electronic tag on his left ankle.

Previously featured in my occasional series of Norwich characters here

He is currently designing and building a steam engine with the heat source originating from a rechargeable electric battery. When I asked why, he explained that the coal fired one he had built was far too smelly and was thus upsetting the neighbours as well as making his flat uninhabitable.

The court ordered electronic tag he tells me interferes with his digital radio signal and the label reveals his name is not Willie at all but Robert. Which all gives credence to my late mother's theory that he gained the name Willie because of the obscenely short, cut off jeans he insisted on wearing in the days of his youth.

Whatever the reason - Hello Bob.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Idle Thoughts At The Lowestoft Air Show

Cloud Painting, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Units of the provisional wing of the Suffolk Tourist Board painting clouds to "make them less boring and more of an attraction"

.....and how does one apply for a job as a wing walker? Do they advertise for them in job centres or are you supposed to hang around the right bars and wait for a pilot to call out "Hey Kid do you want to earn a tenner tomorrow"?

Air Show Wing Walkers

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Seeing the light

Suffolk Clouds Part 5, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Seeing this move towards me I thought I was in for some kind of divine revelation which would have been handy as I was having trouble trying to think what to cook for everyone's dinner

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Commerce In Britain - THE VERDICT

I photographed this in Southwold as part of my pursuit of Sunburst designs.

Norton Peskett's mission statement is boringly obvious; "Our team approach means that we work together to bring you the quickest, practical and most cost effective solution to your problems." Ho hum. They would generate far more business if they changed it to "We will pepper your small towns with cast iron sunbursts."

That is the problem, in a nutshell, of the malaise that strikes at the heart of all commerce in Britain today; no vision.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Chalk Hill Works Revisited

Chalk Hill Works Revisited, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

I first posted a photograph of this 1930s building to flickr two years ago and it has lain empty since then. The fabric of the building is starting to rapidly deteriorate and clear signs of subsidence can be seen in the car park. Doorways and gutters are becoming choked with weeds and parts of it appear to have flooded. The boards that have appeared on the windows since I first photographed it are there to prevent trespass rather than protect the building.

Derelict 1930s Factory, Rosary Road.

The site started off as Thomsons ironmongery works in the 19th century and manufacture continued there until after the war. (Production was given over to making shell and bomb casings 1939 - 45 and bombs fell near the entrance to the works during the so called Baedaker Raids). It was Thompson's who subsidised the Ferryman at Pulls Ferry until the start of World War II to allow their workers to take a short cut to the factory.

The factory has a hidden surprise. The buildings go back into the hill behind and join the Chalk caves (really flint mines)that riddle the whole of Thorpe Hamlet.) I was allowed to go down a little way some years back (although not take photos). The metal bunk beds that they used when it was air raid shelter during the war are still there..

Manufacture stopped and Thomsons turned into Decco and the works became a local distribution centre (that's a warehouse to you and me)

Two and a half years ago Decco moved their operation to their Ipswich works and the works have been empty ever since.

The building has Grade 2 listing and in spite of this outline planning permission has been given to develope the site for offices and housing. Industrial buildings are the most difficult to preserve as those of us who mourn the demolition of the fine Art Deco façade to Jarrolds Printing works a few weeks ago well know.

Chalk Hill Works Revisited (again)

The site presents a lot of difficulty for any developer; Rosary Road used to be called Chalk Hill Road and chalk is not the best medium to lay foundations on. In addition because of its industrial history and because of the presence of at least two petrol tanks under the ground the site is heavily polluted. In addition the presence of 250 housing units will put a lot of pressure on local traffic. For all of the aforementioned reasons it seems likely that it will be a while before the site is developed and probably the land will be banked leaving residents with a view of a gradually rotting building.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Roll Over Max Jaffa

Homework, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

My next project: a recently acquired single string phonofiddle. Made somewhere between 1910 and 1930. Manufacturer (as yet) unknown. There is the remains of a torn paper label below the soundbox which although unreadable is sufficent to recognise if I see another complete one. It was found in the back of a dryish garage.

The string which is played with a fiddle bow sits against a soundbox at its base which amplifies the sound through a horn. Homemade ones were often made utilising the soundboxes (and horns) from phonagraphs. This one, which appears commercially made, connects the string to the mica diaphragm of the soundbox using a piece of cork.

Whats wrong: It is missing its horn. The body is in terrible cosmetic condition. The soundbox needs attention; the mica diaphragm is fine but the pieces of rubber that hold it in place although still intact have perished and become hard thus losing the necessary pliability to offer the best sound. The cork which should be attached to the diaphragm (?using beeswax?) has dropped off. Five woodworm holes in the wood of the body although these appear to be old. It is currently strung with what appears to be a plastic string from a child's toy ukelele.

What next: Acquire a reproduction Phonagraph horn. These are available in brass, enamalled tin and aluminium. Attend to the wooden body. Fix and tune the soundbox. String.

Questions I am minded to get a brass horn because it will look better than an aluminium one. Will the weight make it impractical to use? The price difference is only about seven pounds. Which will sound better?
Which is the best violin string to use?
Anyone done up one of these?
Any tips?
Anyone recognise the manufacture from the remains of the label?

What after that: Learn to play and become a rock god. After all if Norfolk's own Bruce Lacey could play one in legendary band The Alberts I can surely do it too.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Colonel Blinks Bad Trip

Truly unseen Beatles, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Picture the Colonel on a pavement by the YMCA taking photographs of that building ("Just a plain photograph of the front of the building Nothing arty" I had been commanded) when I noticed all these toys in the window of the St Giles Gallery.

I had forgotten that they had an exhibition of photographs of the Fab Four called The Unseen Beatles taken by newshound Frank Herman in 1967. The window featured modern toys from the the 1968 animated children's film "Yellow Submarine" which the Beatles had little or nothing to do with and the display seemed to be more about 21st Century eBay marketing than about Herman's wonderful and revealing photographs.

What I did like was St Giles Street reflected in the strong colours of the window and I took a photograph and then another one of a balloon. Big mistake.

"Can I HELP you............Sir?" This guy in a purple t-shirt had run out of the shop and was looming over me, speaking very loudly.

"um. yes. well I was just taking a picture of er your window" I said

His hand rested on his hip and his lip curled "You should have asked first" he said and with that he spun round and walked away.

"I was just coming in to have a look" I said to his back but the slamming of the shop door hid my words.

Now I knew how the Apple Scruffs felt. On reflection I decided that I would wait a month or so before I visited the exhibition. As I trudged down St Giles Street I found myself singing one of the fabs most famous songs "All You Need Is Cash".

This photograph is my 1000th entry into the Norwich flickr pool.

Beatles Play St Giles

Friday, May 18, 2007

What Sally was doing in the Alley

I find it reassuring that Norfolk County Council decided to put this sign up in three languages because it has been constantly preying upon my mind that continental types are taking cheap flights into Norwich International Airport merely to urinate up the back passages of Norwich Citizens - and everyone knows their wee smells different to ours.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

From Our Show Business Correspondent

Change Of Career, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

To stay ahead in show business you have to continually reinvent yourself. He has an extraordinary ability to naturally talk in soundbites. He told me (with a Norwich accent)

"They can't call me The Puppet Man no more cuz I'm the Karaoke Man. I think it do a bit better. Only thing is I can't remember all the words so I have to put my own in"

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Last Ride

My grandfather used to boast that he was the last person to ever use Surlingham Ferry. It happened this way.

He was a doctor and while acting as a locum in the 1960s he was called out after midnight on a stormy night to attend a woman in Surlingham who had just gone into labour. He arranged for Tom Ellis (the son of local naturalist Ted Ellis) to row him across the ferry. Halfway over they noticed that the boat was filling up with water in a way that could not be attributed to the torrential rain. As they stepped out of the dinghy it sank into the water never to rise again. He sprinted up the road with soaking wet clothes and found that his patient had her baby without him. (She was mortified, he remembered, that the doctor had come round and the house was 'in a mess')

Me And The Devil

Postwick All Saints, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The Parish Church of All Saints, Postwick. Postwick, as anyone in Norfolk will tell you, is pronounced POZZICK and interestingly enough the Domesday Book gives it a french spelling Possuic which suggests to me that the proper pronounciation was always thus. The spelling of the village name is probably the result of a fantasy of some early mapmaker.

This photograph is taken from the very spot upon which I was standing when at the age of nine my friend Alan Williams, told me that if I pointed my finger at a gravestone then my hand would turn black and rot away. I can still, after all these years, hear the shock in his voice as he warned me of my fate. Only washing it with holy water would save my arm he told me. Now Holy Water is not something readily available in Anglican Churchyards but after some thought we decided puddlewater from the graveyard would be just as good as it came from sacred ground. Due only to this use of muddy rainwater I am writing this entry with both my hands intact.

(Shamefacedly I must admit that even now I check myself if I should unthinkingly point my finger in a churchyard.)

Another related superstition from childhood that comes to mind was if a Bible fell on the ground three times then it was no longer holy and thus no use for swearing oaths, warding off vampires etc.. Indeed it could even be a malign influence and attract the very evil one hoped to avoid. The trouble was, I recall, that you could not tell a Holy Bible from an unholy one.

These and other tales made up a kind of secret annexe to the official religion we were taught at home and school and were only spoken of among ourselves and never never mentioned to adults.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

From My Bedroom Window - Sunset Norwich Cathedral 05 05 07

I had decided in advance that I would take yet another photograph in my series From My Bedroom Window for the highly trailed flickr group Twenty Four Hours Of Flickr 05 05 07.

Came the day though the sky was overcast and as mundane as a view of a medieval cathedral steeple can be. :-)

The clouds began to clear in the late afternoon but I still could not get excited by what I was viewing through my lens. Just before Sunset the sky took on a rose hue as the sun dipped down behind Magdelan Street and I took this photo. After five seconds the sky returned to a more normal blue but I already had this photo.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Local Elections

Local Elections, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

We had three visits from the Greens and one from Labour - nothing from the Conservatives (we hang 'em high round here) or the Liberal Democrats. I was amazed by the low standard of election material we got and by the hazy ideas by the people electioneering on our doorstep as to what City Councillors actually do.

The Greens, were sadly, the most inept. The first guy to come to our door seemed mad and was 'off message' where the local manifesto was concerned. Another asked me in the middle of our conversation where Rosary Road was and seemed only mildly enlightened when I told him we were standing on it.

They all seemed to mix up the actions of the Parliamentary Labour Party with those of the Local Party with the first guy declaiming that one could not vote Labour because "They led us into Iraq". This summoned up an image for me of Steve Morphew (Leader of the Labour Party in the Council) personally raising a Pal's Regiment in the Mile Cross Estate and marching them down to Thorpe Station while singing "We Don't Want To Lose You But We Feel You Have To Go"

The Labour guy had the appearance of a make-weight who was fighting the ward because he had been told to.

I never spoke to the Lib Dem candidate but every time I saw him in the distance he was wearing an orange bri-nylon shirt.

The final result, if anyone cares, of this battle of the second rate was
J Conway (Green) 952;
J Holdcroft (Labour) 428;
J Hooke (Liberal Democrat)* 953;
G Richards (Conservative) 429.
Liberal Democrats hold, majority of 1 vote.

It went to three counts with the Greens winning the first by one vote and losing the next two. Apparently it was a night of high drama.

The original count had the Green party leading by one vote. The Liberal Democrats's asked for and got a recount which put them in the lead. The Greens asked for another recount which when completed still had the Liberal Democrats's ahead by one vote.

A tearful Green candidate begged for there to be another recount but this was turned down by the electoral officer (whatever his office is called) on the grounds that it was (a) very late and (b) that the Greens had lost two out of three of the counts.

Rumours abound that the Greens are going to complain about this and try to have the decision overturned. For myself I just don't care. As I have indicated, that although I did vote, I could not engage with any of the partys or their campaigns. The most worrying thing for me is that the vote in South Norfolk and Broadland suggest that if Norwich expands as a local authority we will be in a Conservative run area. I may have to move.

Friday, May 04, 2007

PhotoArtmaster Classic

PhotoArtmasterClassic3, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Free this month with Digital Camera The Magazine for today's photographer comes a program called PhotoArtmaster Classic from fo2Pix which normally sells for all of £5.99 (nine dollars in the states which suggests an unfavourable rate of exchange for the pound).

The fo2Pix blurb says "All the PhotoArtMaster products are unique as they are the only creative software that automatically generate hundreds of variants, or ‘Sources’, based on the original digital photograph or scan. PhotoArtMaster Classic 1.5 generates over 47 such Sources. The Sources, which are accessible via 4 Tabs at the bottom of the Studio Editor screen, are composed of sketches, monochrome and colour palettes, under-paintings and highlights. The 4 Tabs included in the Studio Editor are: Colours; Main Colours; Main Edges; and Hints: Photo Art"

With a non intuitive front end and documentation that consists of a silent movie (really) it offers, despite the promises, results that are available from a hundred other programs and plugins (many of the latter free). As with all these so-called art programs the better the original the better the 'art'. The result turn out to be the kind of designs that would appear on cheap table place mats in the 1970s. Once used a couple of times it is doubtful that one would go back to it which leads me to think I paid the right price for my free copy.

The program seems to use more memory than Photoshop (on my system at least) and so I suggest you use it in conjunction with a Ram freeing program like the excellent freeware FreeRAM XP Pro. from