My wife and sons have gone to Essex for two weeks - an eccentric choice, but thankfully inexpensive - so I shall be able to devote more time to exploring the Derek archives.
In the meantime, here's a selection of some of the photos that I've come across during the last few days:
I found this in an album of Victorian photos from Liverpool. She certainly has a Mona Lisa smile, but I'm not sure about the weird gloves.
It's hard to judge the character of people from photographs when slow shutter speeds forced them to adopt a hard stare. Perhaps his face relaxed into a warm smile as soon as the flash went, or maybe he's just a tough bastard. Sherlock Holmes would probably say something along the lines of "Although he dresses like a gentleman, I see from his countenance and the thin layer of dried mud on the bottom of his shoes, that he is a member of the labouring classes."
The classic late-Victorian outfit, with the exaggerated thin waist. My wife's great-grandfather grew up in Glasgow at the end of the nineteenth century and told her that he remembered seeing women in the back streets urinating where they stood. At first glance, he would see a respectable-looking lady dressed like the woman above, then he would notice a stream of urine emerging from their feet. Understandably, the women became very agitated and shooed the boy away.
I'll leave the Glasgow jokes to someone else.
I'm not sure if this is a gay couple, a Victorian "Little and Large" stage act, or the first example of a confusing Facebook profile pic.
He's an commanding-looking chap. It's strange how impressive moustaches could be in those days. I couldn't help contrasting him with someone who appeared in last Satuday's Guardian Weekend magazine:
That's progress for you.
It's spooky to think that she's lived a whole life and died of old age, particularly as there's something very contemporary about her face. Perhaps that's because children weren't as good at maintaining a serious, Victorian expression.
I can't think of anything pithy or slightly amusing to say about this. It's just three people with some hay. But I like it.
This is an odd picture. The print is the same size as the negative and I had to enlarge it. I'm not sure if the woman is pulling something out or putting it in, but she seems quite happy either way.
This is from the good old days, when people would dress up to talk to horses.
Finally, a press photograph from 25th February, 1961:
On the back, a caption reads: Prime Minister addresses Young Conservatives. As you can see, the term "Young Conservative" is an oxymoron. They can't wait to be 50 and live in Chalfont St Giles, regularly popping into town to visit their club, perhaps with the odd visit to Madam de Sade's for some corrective therapy (just like Nanny).
On the subject of photos, I must post a link to this post of "boring" (but curiously compelling) snapshots at Brett's excellent blog Branches and Rain, which also contains this wonderful post about the time he didn't die.