The 1920s might have roared for some people, but probably not for the subjects of a photo album I found yesterday:
Although I was born in the 1960s, this image feels very familiar to me. When I was a boy, there was a shoe shop in the road next to mine that had been opened by two brothers in the 1930s. It occupied the ground floors of two adjacent houses. One half contained a shoe repair workshop, where the brothers could usually be found; the other contained a showroom with countless boxes of shoes. I used to buy my Clarks Commandos there.
The workshop was like a time capsule. Nothing had been changed for 50 years and the fixture and fittings were all painted in a shade of brown that had probably become obsolete in 1949.
Even when the brothers were in their seventies, they continued to work, buffing leather shoes over ancient lathes. They finally retired in the early 1990s.
I love this idyllic photograph for so many reasons. It was about to be binned, so I'm very glad that it will now be seen by more people than ever.
I receive lots of old photograph albums at work. Many contain nothing more than snapshots which are of little interest to anyone; but the best have images that are either historically or artistically appealing. This photo may just be the work of an amateur who was having an 'artistic moment', but it doesn't deserve to be consigned to oblivion.
This is a slightly creepy photograph: a man who looks like a waxwork dummy and a woman holding a doll. Very odd.
This is a bit of a Caspar David Friedrich scene, with the protagonist squaring up against the forces of nature.
This Danny Kaye lookalike would have loved a full-blown Hammond organ. Perhaps he lived long enough to see one.
Finally, a picnic scene. The location and identity of these people will always be a mystery - I wish that I could transport myself back there, as they look as if they're having fun.
When I was 20, I met an elderly Welsh farmer on the outskirts of Lampeter. He looked at me and said "Ydych yn siarad Cymraeg?"I replied that I knew a little (I'd worked in a Welsh-speaking pub during the National Eisteddfod of Wales), but it would be a very limited conversation. He immediately switched to English and, like a man possessed, told me that I must sort out my photos:
"Write the names and dates on the back of all of your photographs. I've got albums and I don't know who they are. It's gone. Forgotten. I can't tell my sons who these people are. They're strangers. You need to write everything down."
I promised him that I wouldn't forget and I'm glad that the internet has given me the opportunity to repeat this man's sage advice.