Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More Random Photos Found in Books

I almost avoided using the r-word in the title of the post, as it has been hijacked by teenage girls - "That's like, so random" (with the annoying questioning intonation at the end) - but 'miscellaneous' sounds a little too cosy, as if I should be sitting next to a roaring log fire, sucking a Werther's Original.

Today's selection consists of five photographs, in chronological order, and a postcard.

We begin with a family portrait taken, I presume, during the First World War. The young sailor looks a little more cheerful than his poor brother - and with good reason. The number of casualties in the Royal Navy between 1914 to 1918 was 35,000. In the British Army, almost a million lives were lost.

As a father of two sons, I can't begin to imagine what the parents of servicemen went through during World War One. I know that in my own family, the death of a young man in the Battle of Loos affected three generations of people for decades after. Indeed, my grandmother never really recovered and even as late as the 1970s, still clung on to the belief that her brother had survived, but lost his memory.

I wonder whether both of the young men in the photograph survived.

Next, a photo of a man who looks as if he was named Len:

This picture is from the days when men still wore ties in the workshop and had a decent selection of pencils in their top pocket. Len probably subscribed to the 'Valves Yearbook' and certainly knew his oscillators from his cavity resonators.

The invention of the printed circuit has taken all the fun out of electronics, in the same way that the synthesizer ruined the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. A microchip is no substitute for a roomful of glowing valves, overheating diodes and magnetron tubes.

The 1970s, when children could still cycle around suburban streets with only a 23% chance of getting knocked down by a passing motorist. Drivers were still 'motorists' then, as if they possessed a professional skill like a chemist or dentist. If you were a driver, you were probably sitting behind the wheel of a van or lorry.

A grainy 1978 study, next to an unusual window. The back of the photo doesn't give any clues. Is the younger man Sebastian Faulks?

It would be so easy to write something about this photo, but I will refrain, except to say that I'm sure that he was the apple of his mother's eye.

Finally, can anyone guess which part of London this postcard shows?

Obviously it's a trick question. It's not London, it's Tehran. I had no idea that they had Routemaster buses, but a quick check on Google confirms that they used to be a 'main feature' of the city's public transport system. 

The other side of the card contains some nice stamps of the Shah and a mention of the 'appetising' food.

Fingers crossed for Iran that Mitt Romney doesn't get elected. In fact, fingers crossed for all of us that Mitt Romney doesn't get elected. 

Was that too random?


Sarah said...

The little boy looks well pleased with his Raleigh Chopper.

I have two boys too and I would be devastated if they were conscripted into the armed forces and sent to their deaths. Who could possibly recover from that? You might continue breathing, but 'living' would be out.

sukipoet said...

fascinating. you know the thing about MR is that he has a powerful or at least dramatic voice. O has a sort of wimpy voice.

now it seems it shouldnt matter, but people are, to my mind, persuaded by such things despite the words and politics behind the person/voice.

I mean lets face it Ronald Reagan and George Bush both got elected. I guess anything is possible.

I think Hilary should run again.

Steerforth said...

Sarah - I suppose things were different then - larger families, higher infant mortality rates and a widespread belief in the afterlife. We in the West are more shielded from these things today.

Suki - Yes, Romney came across well in the debate. I was very disappointed by Obama's performance.

As an outsider, my only criteria for preferring a presidential candidate is based on which one I think is least likely to blow up the planet. Romney seems a dangerous man and his eschatological views are rather alarming.

lucy joy said...

I really like the 70's boy and bike shot. I wonder if his parents deliberately coordinated his clothes with the paintwork?
As for the schoolboy staring wistfully away from the camera, I'm sure he grew into his looks.
Good old 'Len' looks so happy at work. Just as my father's late workmate Vic used to. He was a laughing stock for taking his work seriously and polishing his tools daily. Died 2 months after retirement. I always end on a high.

Steerforth said...

Vic - now there's another name, like Ken, Brian, Terry, Ron, Bill and Ray. Men you can depend on.

I'm sorry about Vic, but is it better to love your job for 40 years and pop your clogs as soon as you retire, or loathe every minute of work, only finding respite at the end of your life?

Sam Jordison said...

"Is the younger man Sebastian Faulks?"


Agreed about Romney.

As for the First World War, it remains too horrible to contemplate - as your poor grandmother must have felt...

This is a good opportunity to recommend one of the most astonishing things on the internet: IWM voices of the first world war: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/iwm-voices-first-world-war/id446748876

I know that the word 'haunting' is overused, but here...

(If you don't have itunes, there are other ways of downloading it on the Imperial War Museum website.)

Canadian Chickadee said...

Not too random at all.

And I share your hope re: Mitt the Twit, as the British tabloids called him after the Olympics. In August, I repeated that to a Republican friend who launched into a rant which ended by his calling me a "brain dead liberal," and "an Obama sycophant," before cutting me out of his Facebook list! Oh well.

This is one of those occasions when I despair of the intelligence of my fellow Americans. If Mitt wins, than I will spend the next four years grinding my teeth, just as I did for eight years when the junior Bush was President.

Keep the name and address of your dentist handy for me. Thanks.

Steerforth said...

Thanks Sam - I found some recordings on the IWM website (I deleted iTunes out of sheer frustration some time ago) and the recordings make compelling listening. I'd also recommend the 1960s series 'The Great War' on YouTube (you'd have to be seriously interested to buy the DVD boxed set as it's almost as long as the War itself), but the interviews are extraordinary.

Chickadee - I generally avoid talking about politics, because I could talk about it until the cows come home and when people click on the blog, they want 37 seconds of mild amusement, not someone sounding off about the state of the world. However, I'm appalled by Mitt Romney and his cohorts. The man's a fraud. He just seems to say what he thinks people want to hear. He's more intelligent than Bush, but possibly more dangerous too.

Anonymous said...

I think Len's machine looks like it ought to have its own name; computers and such like did back in the day (I'm obviously thinking about E.R.N.I.E, or was it E.R.N.Y?). It could equally be the BBC props department making a set for Dr Who.

Sam Jordison said...

Oh wow! Thank you Steerforth. I think I may get the box set... Just been watching The World At War. Incredible, horrible, so horrible, but also, just sometimes, strangely wonderful.

Glad you found IWM Voices... Some of them are astonishing. Not ashamed to say the letters home episode made me quite teary.

Gardener in the Distance said...

It's Mitt Romney who's random, Steerforth. Let's hope he sails off into Florida or wherever the silvered former bigwigs go before they cause too much further trouble.
Thankyou for taking me back, again.
I remember those quiet streets that motorists occasionally appeared on. And the oak leaves that were piled up in the gutter and the potatoes that were charred within.
For me too, WW1 has had great impact.

Canadian Chickadee said...

By the way, I forgot to mention in my earlier comment an observation of the word "random." "Random" as you describe it, is exactly the same way the word is used in North America by the teenage girls here. The speed with which English language changes zip around the globe never ceases to amaze.

Steerforth said...

Flying Scribbler - It was ERNIE - short for Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment. But yes, it could have been the BBC.

Sam - I'm really frustrated that my grandfather, who was gassed in the trenches, never talked about the First World War. When he was dying, he told me an incredibly dull anecdote about his allotment that was clearly important to him, but of no interest to anyone else.
The weird thing about 'The Great War' is how young the interviewees are - nearlly all in their 60s and still able to remember everything very clearly.

Gardener - I'm having nightmares about Mitt Romney. If he gets elected, I'll start digging my bunker.

Chickadee - Yes, isn't it 'Valley Girl'? The rising inflection at the end of a sentence, the long, drawnout so as in "Soooo retro". I'm a bit of a curmudgeon about these things and if I hear the rising inflection, tend to respond by saying "Sorry, but are you telling me or asking me?"

Dale said...

The rising inflection is pure New Zealand, where women seem to use it to be inclusive, a sort of "Are you with me so far? Do you know what I mean?". It acknowledges the presence of the other speaker.

However some years ago it spread to Australia, where the more fuddyduddyish academic Aussies started writing articles about how they were annoyed by it, and the rest of them took it up with alacrity, or so it seems.

I am surprised it has travelled your way as well.
Valley Girl English is a different approach.More of a drawl.

Steerforth said...

Dale - the rising inflection seems to be limited to teenagers and people in their early 20s - perhaps it reflects a stage of life in which people are less self-assured and need to be more inclusive.

I think it probably travelled to England via the Australian soaps, as did the penchant for daft first names (although some may argue that this started with Dynasty).

It's remarkable how quickly accents change isn't it (or should that be "isn't it?").

zmkc said...

Surely no. 5 is a young Lord Lloyd Webber (sorry if I've posted this twice - blogger being weird)

Steerforth said...

Good Lord, you're right!