Thursday, October 08, 2009

These are just some of my favourite things...

I have found some wonderful things this week: a first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles, a third edition of Tess of the d'Urbevilles and a sixth printing of On the Origin of Species, but these pale into insignificance compared to the following:

I'll begin with my second favourite type of book - self-published fiction (poetry holds first place in my affections):

I know that you probably can judge a book by its cover, but I want you to enjoy the full majesty of the prose:

"Sarah nodded in a distracted manner and sat back in her chair and clasped both her hands in her lap. She sat kneading them together nervously. What could she tell Charlotte? Would she think she was crazy if she confessed to be a time traveller in search of the truth?"

When I was a bookshop manager I ended up adopting a zero tolerance approach to self-published authors for a number of reasons - mainly because they were a financial drain. I never ceased to be amazed at the way self-published authors could become borderline stalkers for months on end until it was time to return the unsold stock, at which point they suddenly became very elusive.

I found this illustration in a boys' adventure story from the Edardian era:

The caption reads: "That - that thing's loaded!" gasped Flagg. I'm sure that you can can think of other, darker captions...

This bookmark refers to a road expansion scheme in north London. I don't know how many people attended the meeting, but it didn't stop the building going ahead. In Britain, the 1990s saw a number of environmentally disastrous road building programmes that went ahead in the face of overwhelming public opposition.

To continue the road building theme, the remaining images come from two photograph albums that appeared in our warehouse last week. By coincidence, they are both from 1931 and the albums were destined to be pulped and become part of the M6 motorway extension, but I have rescued some of the photos from oblivion. Sadly, there are no names. I wrote about this issue three years ago (scroll down to "Restoration") and I would urge you to follow the advice of a wise, Welsh farmer.

The first album features lots of women in funny hats. However, these hats are comfortingly familiar, as I grew up surrounded by great aunts who had been born in the 1890s and 1900s and, fashionwise, seemed to be stuck in the 1920s.

I really like this photo. A small technological development - the advent of faster shutter speeds and better photographic film - meant that people no longer had to maintain grim, humourless expressions. The older woman looks particularly interesting. Her clothes suggest that she may have been a "bluestocking".

The following photographs are from a holiday album from some English people who went to Biarritz and Lourdes:

A close-up of the next photo reveals that a lot of the figures are nuns:

I love the scene below, with the wet cobbled streets and the vintage car:

And also the next image, with the absurdly French man in the beret and the boy in short trousers.

The final picture looks lie Hogwarts:

I can only assumed that this is a scene from Lourdes, but I don't know. I would love to know more about the people who compiled this photo album, but there isn't a single clue. A sad end to what looked like a rich life. Hoewever although we will never know who took these photographs, I can at least ensure that these images will now be seen be more people than ever.


Resolute Reader said...

Yes, the final picture is the main entrance to the Cathedral at Lourdes. You can compare it here

JRSM said...

Lovely photos, especially the car/cobblestones one.

Is that edition of 'Tess' with or without the dreaded knickers-save-a-man scene?

Steerforth said...

Not sure, I'll have to have a look.

Thanks for the link RR.

simoom said...

I LOVE old photographs - and these are delightful. The array of expressions caught in those holiday snaps is just wonderful - especially the English lady who appears rapt and over-excited at the contents of Maurice's basket. What a pity we can't see inside! A camembert filled baguette perhaps, or an assortment of irresistable French pastries? Maurice looks nonchalent - he does this every day I guess. And what a collection of extraordinary characters in the background. The bathing suits are a joy. And why are they all (nearly) so thin? Then, in the other photo, of everyone seated in a line - all so jaunty. The sunny day? A wedding party? Two flowery parasols, and a leather brief case wedged between two chairs. I used to have a cloche hat like the lady in the middle - from Laura Ashley. I think it rather suited me... ha ha. More like this Steerforth, please - if you have?

cmkinsi said...

It's a croissant! Maurice sells croissants! My husband spotted it immediately. He says I've been to Biarritz, but I have absolutely no memory of it, if I have...