Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Digeridoo Seller

Digeridoo Seller, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Happily demonstrating circular breathing. "Oh you can pick up the technique in about an hour" he said blithely.

I filed the statement away in the same compartment that I keep "Learn guitar in a day, the Bert Weedon Way" and "After only one lesson you will dance like Astaire"

The only such music slogan I ever believed was the one for the London Pianola Company that read "My daughter has a great foot for music"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Carte de visite, Norwich Castle

Albumen print by William Russell Sedgfield of Norwich Castle.
Marked on the back Sedgfield's English Scenery published by A. W. Bennet 5, Bishopgate Street Without, London E.C.
Sedgfield produced more than a thousand stereo photographs of English Scenery between 1855 and 1866 which were all published by Bennet. A lot of these were produced as single images to cash in on the craze for carte de visites.

Distressed does not begin to describe the condition of this photograph and only a sentimental nature and a love of stove piper hats have prevented it being consigned to the bin. Best viewed large.

Albumen print. Image size 2⅛ × 3½ inches mounted on card. Carte de visite.

Tasburgh Bell Hanging 1900

Tasburgh Bell Hanging 1900, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

This is a scan of one of two photographs taken to celebrate the rehanging of the church bells at Tasburgh Church, Norfolk in 1900. The mount of this one is marked Alf. Robinson, The Studio, Long Stratton and I have no reason to believe that the second one is not by the same photographer.

The photograph shows a clergyman and two other gentlemen standing in front of 5 church bells outside Tasburgh church. The centre bell (the tenor?) is marked

?. B. F.
Records reveal that the rector of Tasburgh in 1900 was Walter Robert Hurd and a careful examination of the left hand bell in the back row reveals that the name of the second churchwarden was William Last Duffield (a surname still known in Tasburgh.) I am unable to make out the name of the first Churchwarden. Any help would be much appreciated in identifying him.

I used to think this was a photograph of the Rector, flanked by his two Churchwardens in front of his bells. I have now decided this is not the case. The chap on the left is too obviously an artisan. I think the bloke in the hat is probably a representative of the Bell Foundry.

In 1900 the bells of Tasburgh church were retuned and rehung. They were the first in Norfolk to be retuned on the 5 tone principle.* The company responsible were J Taylor & Co of Loughborough who are still in existence.

Tasburgh Bell Hanging 1900

I think this second photograph probably shows the workman from J Taylor & Co. preparing to rehang the bells. The chap in the centre of the photograph is someone who features in the first photograph.

Both images are "Real Photographs" mounted on card. Photograph size 6in X 4in

* I did not know what the five tone principle is either. This from Taylor's website may explain (or may not.)
Taylor Five Tone Principle
Taylor's introduced their five tone principle of bell tuning in 1896. This produces the purity and sweetness of tone and allows the bell to sound with full and rich mellowness. This gives Taylor bells their special characteristic and sets them apart from all other cast bronze bells. The Bell Master and the Bell Tuner work on five principle harmonics, the hum, fundamental, tierce, quint and nominal but these in turn influence and affect many others. When the correct frequency for each of these harmonics has been achieved, the bell is in tune with itself. In a set of bells, each bell is tuned using the same standards applied to its own frequencies and thus each bell in the set is not only in tune with itself, but also with each bell in the set.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Swan Pit

Swan Pit, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Oh God another intrusive heritage sign obscuring what it is trying to explain. Norwich's Medieval Swan pit does not need a tin duck attached to it and needlessly blocking our view. I have no objection, in theory to the labelling of sites but it becomes ridiculous when an attempt is made to make the label more important than what it describes. In this case because of the choice of font, the use of capitals and the insistence that the words should follow the curves of the wing most of the sign is illegible.

But it is very artistic!*


*The swan pit and sluice at the Great Hospital, Bishopsgate. This swan pit with attached sluices dates to the late 18th century but was restored in the late 19th century and altered again in the 20th century. It takes the form of a large rectangular pool with brick sides. At both eastern corners are brick paved ramps. Attached to the north a stone sided channel with two 19th century sluice gates which link the pit with the River Wensum. The sluices ensure that the pit is filled at high tide, and not allowed to empty at low tide. This very rare 'swan pit' was used for the breeding of local swans for the Master of the Great Hospital, Norwich, who since medieval times had the right to cull swans and provide them for feast. Quote taken from here.

We didn't come on the broads for a spell

No wonder we get called yokels

Monday, October 25, 2010


Blowing Job, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The Norfolk Lurcher, in my photograph above, belongs to another busker who was waiting to take over the pitch. There is an informal arrangement among the regular buskers as to how long any one person can stay at the same spot; partly to stop local shopkeepers from getting too annoyed at hearing the same musician, partly to give everyone a go at the 'better' sites. Much angry muttering is aimed at those who refuse to comply and stay in the same place, set up next to someone who is already playing or drown out their rivals with amplified sound.

I have said this before but it is worth repeating. Contrary to popular belief the majority of the regular buskers who play on the street every day in Norwich are not signing on as unemployed at the Jobcentre. They are not scallywags who are 'playing' the system and earning extra cash in the black economy. They perceive themselves and act as professional musicians albeit on the lowest rung. For better or worse this is their living or part of their living which is why, I guess they try to make rules.

The lurcher, by the way belongs to Bevan who is featured in this second photo.

Rainy Day, 12 String Guitarist With Norfolk Lurcher

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Number Three Hundred, December 28th 1946.

Corkers!!! it's the Beano from 1946 with Big Eggo on the cover.
The only pal you will recognise in the comic is Lord Snooty. Try to avert your eyes from the racial stereotype on the masthead.

It would be nice to think that he was there, eating a melon and with a bunch of bananas sticking out of his pocket, only to cheer up the readership during the dark days of rationing but alas I am afraid not. He was on the masthead from the very first issue July 30th 1938. His name was Little Peanut and his original purpose was to introduce the letters and jokes page but by the time Issue 300 came out this feature had been scrapped because of paper rationing.

The premise of Lord Snooty in the early days was slightly different to it's later incarnation. He would escape, every issue, from the confines of his stately home to play with his pals from Ash-Can Alley. They were Rosie, Hairpin Huggins, Skinny Lizzie, Scrapper Smith, Happy Hutton, and the baby-grow clad twins Snitchy and Snatchy. The final pal, representing the animal kingdom, was Gertie The Goat.

I can exclusively reveal that Lord Snooty's real name was Lord Marmaduke, The Earl Of Bunkerton.*

Other Characters in this issue included Cocky Dick (He's Smart And Slick), Sticky Willie, and, of course, Pansy Potter (The Strongman's Daughter).
*In later life he became a director of Leman's Bank and a contributor to the Conservative Party. In the present coalition government he holds the post of Minister Of Peasant Kicking.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Unasked Question

The CBBC Live 'n' Deadly Roadshow came to Norwich. Before it's host, the craggily handsome Stephen Backshall, came onto the stage there was a warm-up man to lead the children in a series of clapping games to get them to the right state of excitement.

First of all he put on his serious face and instructed the kids "Right when Steve asks for questions I want you all to ask questions but they must be sensible ones. It's no good asking if he wants to come round to your house for tea. Ask something like how many species of shark are there."

Please sir! Please sir!!! I've got got a good question. "How can you possibly justify the keeping of birds of prey in captivity to use for entertainment and the furtherance of your career?"

I warmly commend "The Goshawk" by T H White and the conclusions he came to about his own attempts to train/subdue a Goshawk?

CBBC Live 'n' Deadly Roadshow - Steve Backshall 'n' guest

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fire At Zizzi's

Fire At Zizzi's, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Zizzi's restaurant in Tombland caught fire today 12/10/10. One could smell the smoke as far as Norwich Market Place and although the odour was not as strong I was reminded of the day the Central Library burnt down and the stench of burnt paper hung around the whole city for a week. From the outside the fire at Zizzi's, which forms part of the medieval wall around Norwich Cathedral, did not seem too serious.

Fire At Zizzi's -Water Foam UnitFire At Zizzi'sa
Fire At Zizzi's - Gentleman Of The Press

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Wooden walled camera with shutter

This is the same camera as shown here. I have successfully got the before-the-lens shutter mechanism to work and this photograph shows it in situ.

The shutter is a simple, brass, non-returning, spring fired, rotary shutter that has to be turned every time before use. The 'cocked' shutter is held in place by a small latch that is released to make an exposure. Although the rotary shutter was first proposed in 1851 they were not in general use until 1886. Their great advantage was that they did not shake the camera unlike the earlier flap shutters. If this shutter is contemporary with the camera (and I have no reason to believe that it is not) the presence of this shutter makes the camera slightly younger than I first thought. I would now date it to about 1895-1910.

Also shown in this photograph is one of the plate holders.

I may or may not strengthen or replace the spring that holds the cocking mechanism in place but I have now largely finished all the repairs and renovations I intend.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Cost Of Postage Stamps

Inside The Dalek, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

A “double” postbox opened to reveal the insides. One notices straight away the red warning notices reading BEWARE OF HYPODERMIC NEEDLES.

It is sobering to think that as well as paying for wages, sophisticated sorting machinery, property, aeroplanes, ships, trains, vans, bicycles and all the rest the first class stamp has also to pay for HIV tests for Posties who accidentally pierce their skin with carelessly discarded syringes.

Postman Pat was never like this.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Picture Hangers

The Picture Hangers, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The one on the left must be Fireplace and the one on the right Heating. Dunno about the one in the foreground.

I don't take many "candids" because I think they are unfair. This is an exception. I messed around with it in Photochop to try and give it a "cartooney" look.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Plate Camera

Plate Camera, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

I went out looking for a cheapo second hand digital camera to replace my present one and came back with this one instead.

A brass and mahogany camera, very slightly less than quarter plate. Fabric and paper square cut bellows which date it to being probably manufactured before 1890*. Of very basic manufacture, it has no makers name on the camera or on the lens. There are no focusing screws or keys which make it very difficult to operate.

It comes in a sturdy canvas case, with a black focussing cloth of probably later date and a set of three diopters in a case marked Wide Angle, portrait and telephoto. It also has a wooden tripod that looks like three crutches leaning against each other.

It probably had originally a set of three or four aperture rings that could be screwed into the lens and maybe even a hand pushed guillotine shutter.

From this description you will realise that in it's day it would have been considered very basic; The kind of camera advertised in the small ads of Ally Sloper's Half Holiday or given as a prize by the original Titbits magazine.

If it's so awful why did I buy it? Simple....because it is very pretty.


Footnote published 11th October 2010

* I have changed my mind about the date of this camera. Please see here

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

There's still some tourists about then

I am calling for volunteers to participate in an experiment I have thought up.

Every year, in Norwich we have hundreds of visitors to the Broads who moor their hire cruisers at The Norwich Yacht Station beside Riverside Road. I have kept a rough head count and by my reckoning at least half of the visitors think what a jolly jape it would be to buy a Skull and Crossbones flag from one of the many cheapjack shops that infest, in particular, the Northern rivers and fly it from their boat.

Broads cruisers do not normally come with a flag pole and one witnesses great ingenuity in their construction; Broom and mop handles are most usually used though I did once see a Jolly Roger stapled to a wooden crutch which was in turn lashed to the stern of a boat. (I did briefly wonder who on earth brings a spare crutch or even a stapler on holiday with them.)

The Jolly Roger or skull and crossbones flag is a signal older than semaphore, or signal flags or Morse code. It means no quarter given or asked for. It means if you don't kill us we will kill you and steal anything movable. As Wikipedia puts it

"Historically, the flag was flown to frighten pirates' victims into surrendering without a fight, since it conveyed the message that the attackers were outlaws who would not consider themselves bound by the usual rules of engagement—and might, therefore, slaughter those they defeated (since captured pirates were usually hanged, they didn't have much to gain by asking quarter if defeated)"

Flying the Jolly Roger is therefore an out and out threat. If justice still runs its course throughout Britain one should be able to board any boat flying the Jolly Roger, slaughter its crew (they have signalled after all that they want no quarter) and claim their vessel and goods by right of salvage. My contention is that there is not a court in the land that would find the perpetrators of such action guilty of any crime given that the flyers of the flag had clearly signalled that they were first of all outside the law and secondly were prepared to do the same at the blink of an eye. Any action against them is self defence pure and simple

But I need a few volunteers to find out if my theory runs true.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Norwich Scandal

Fly tip, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The people who dumped this lot are bastards. Norfolk Homemakers would have collected it for free and seen it all went to a good home.
The Salvation Army and Oxfam would have collected it all for free and sold them for funds.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Don't Blink

Don't Blink, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

A "living statue" of Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp.

A graphic demonstration of the difference between reality and art; A real homeless person (as against someone dressed up as the 1910 version of one) holding their hand out for money in this way would, of course, find himself arrested.*

Living Statue

I think he probably hated me for firing a flash in his face but he could not say anything.

*Individuals were begging and causing a nuisance, often being aggressive, and the SNT has liaised with market stall holders on a daily basis to gain feedback regarding the problems in the area, issuing begging warnings or making arrests where applicable. From "Police target city centre anti-social behaviour" Norwich Evening News. 07/08/2010

Monday, September 06, 2010

Spot The Ball Competition

Spot The Ball Competition, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

The photo line-up for the Sky News Labour Leadership debate, Sunday September 5th. Unfortunately no Diane Abbot.

"No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." George Orwell, Animal Farm.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Foot Soldiers Of Liberty's Battle

While walking through Norwich Cathedral Close I came across this pair enjoying the sun and having some lunch.

They were, they told me footsore, having spent the morning canvassing on behalf of the Green Party prior to next week's local elections*.

*13 of the 39 seats on Norwich City Council are up for grabs. They should have been contested in May but the elections were postponed because Norwich was about to become a Unitary Authority. Now that those plans have been scrapped by the new government, the elections have to take place as soon as possible.

The council is in no overall control. It's run by a minority Labour administration. Labour have 15 seats, The Greens are the main opposition with 13, the Lib Dems have six and the Conservatives have five

Of the seats being contested six are Labour seats, four belong to the Greens, two to the Lib Dems and one to the Conservatives. Quoted from BBC New Point East Blog

It seems these elections are almost being held in secret. We have had one leaflet each from Labour and the Greens. Nothing at all from the Lib Dems or the Conservatives.

Rumour has it that the Lib Dems cannot find any volunteers to help with the election because of the unpopularity of the coalition among members of the local party.

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Chips

The Knave Of Hearts
He had some chips,
A moment in his mouth
And a lifetime on his hips

*Transatlantic viewers please note: What you call fries we call chips and what you call chips we call crisps. I think.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"I am a camera (me no Leica)"

So I was on Norwich Provisions market when a thought struck me.

Well that's a lie because two thoughts struck me; the first being Why do they call it Norwich Provisions Market when there seem to be only about five stalls that sell provisions? It would be more truthful to call it Norwich bag market because there are about eight or nine stalls scattered throughout it selling bags.

The Handbags And The Gladrags

These are all owned by just one person and I believe he took on only one of them because he scooped the jackpot one week on the National Lottery - the rest became his almost by accident. He also has a shop on "Back Of The Inns". He certainly got that by accident. When the council finally decided to renovate the Garden Of Remembrance, all the stall holders who used the cellars underneath for storage had to move out. The cheapest alternative storage he could find in a hurry was a shop and as he had the premises, he felt he may as well open it.

Anyway back to my story. I was on the misleadingly named Norwich Provisions Market when two thoughts struck me. The second one was; why don't I go and visit the guy who sometimes sells cameras?

I came, I saw, I was tempted and I fell.

I swapped the Olympus C310 Zoom (aka D-540 Zoom) I bought the other day and ten pounds for a Fujifilm A860. On the plus side it is 8.1 mega pixels, works a lot faster and handles colours better than the Olympus although unfortunately like the Olympus it is almost fully automatic and it appears the only option for output is JPG. Still never mind what can one expect for fifteen quid?

My master plan is that I will have swapped and dealt up to a Leica M9 by Christmas; only having spent about £120 on it.

I got home and took this photo of the camera in tribute to fellow Norfolk Flickr persons Tim Caynes and Harry Harris who, if you follow the links on their names you will discover, both like to give a lot of head in their pictures. I can say that because neither will read down as far as here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Fourth Gymnopédie

The Fourth Gymnopédie, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

Winner of the Most Pretentious Graffiti (Thorpe Hamlet & District Heat) Award 2010.

Sadly this prestigious prize was subsequently withdrawn when the judges discovered that the (anonymous but dyslexic) artist was trying to spell Chicken Satay Lives.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Bet You Did Not Know That Today is Thomas Bilney Day

This memorial, to be found by the door of the Surrey Chapel, on the corner of Botolph Street and St Crispin's in Norwich, was erected by the Protestant Alliance. It was replaced by this one which was erected on the Riverside gardens by Bishops Bridge which is about the length of a football pitch away from the supposed site of the Lollard's pit.
Lollards' Memorial, Riverside, Norwich

In fact no one is absolutely sure where the Lollard's Pit was situated; Some argue it was under the Gasometer on Gas Hill, some say it lay beneath the back bar of the Bridge Public House, others put the case for below Godfrey's Store (the paint department I believe) on Riverside Road or underneath Chalk Hill House on Rosary Road.

This newer memorial was also erected by the Protestant Alliance; an organisation I am not familiar with. A Google search on Protestant Alliance brings you to a page on http://www.orangenet.org/pa.htm which is part of Orange.net which describes itself as "the hub of Orangeism on the net"

Interestingly Thomas Bilney did not consider himself a protestant. "He was to the last perfectly orthodox on the power of the Pope, the sacrifice of the Mass, the doctrine of transubstantiation and the authority of the church." He did however preach against saint and relic veneration, disapproved of the practice of pilgrimage and did not believe in the mediation of the saints. I think he also rejected the teachings of Martin Luther. (source Wikipedia)

He seems an unlikely person for Orange Men to memorialise. If you look at the Protestant Alliance web page try clicking on the links for Orange Postcards; you will find one (and maybe more) celebrating the Ulster Volunteer Force. Their memorable deeds included the McGurk's Bar bombing in which 15 civilians were killed. Like Thomas Bilney their victims were all Roman Catholic.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Normal For Norfolk

Normal For Norfolk, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

I don't know how to describe this and because the windows of the vehicle were so dirty I was not able to photograph it with the clarity it deserves.

Somebody had gone to a lot of trouble to recreate, in scale model form, the last watery resting place of the Titanic on the dashboard of their VW microbus.

Bizarrely a toy animal menageries stands next to it. Perhaps the Lion represents Leonardo Dicaprio while the not-sure-what-it-is baby animal is supposed to be Kate Winsome.

Maybe a reminder of the folly of all human endeavour plus an intimation of mortality improves ones driving........

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The New Hullaballoos

The New Hullaballoos, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

An old buffer writes.......

The views from Riverside Road to Pull's Ferry and from the same road across the playing fields to east end of Norwich Cathedral are possibly the most iconic and two of the best loved in the City.

If someone suggested that a caravan park should be built along Riverside partly obscuring these vistas their would be hell to pay.

I bring this up because there are a significant number of modern fibreglass cruisers that are no better looking than caravans and are often more garish and more intrusive than any caravan.

Holidays on the Broads are expensive whether they are spent in a hotel or a guest house. It is often quoted that one can get two and a bit weeks on an all-in package in Spain for the price of a week in a Broads cruiser. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We have the example of Great Yarmouth to show that the cheapo English holiday is unprofitable. Not only is that kind of holiday no longer wanted but the business model means there has to be cut-throat rivalry that drives profits down.

The Broads are not immune. Great Yarmouthism exists everywhere and especially on the north river.

Having said that there is really nothing you can do to legislate against the plethora of ugly cruisers for hire on the Norfolk Rivers. Personally I wish that all broads cruisers were built of wood as they were before the late 1960s but then I also wish trains still had compartments and corridors with engines that puffed out steam.

They are built the way they are because it makes them cheap to build and easy to maintain and clean but surely the boatyards must realise they are in danger of cutting their own throats? You cannot both "sell" the Broads as a place of natural beauty and then put those who want to be part of this into floating plastic crates.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Return Of Django

Rod as victim, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

So I bought an Olympus C-310 zoom on Norwich Market this morning for 5 quid. (Apologies to my son but it will be beans on toast for tea for the rest of the week)

This is the second photo I took with it using Rod the Harpist as my chosen victim. The camera takes 3.5 seconds to warm up when you switch it on and there is a three second gap between photographs as it writes (with a quill pen presumably) to disc.

And God I miss processing in raw.