Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sepia Saturday: Waiting for Pinkie Brown

A couple of weeks ago, I posted 'Waiting for the French' as my contribution to Sepia Saturday. It featured my paternal grandfather, Robert Frank. Now, I'd like to offer up this little gem. Again, it's Robert Frank, but this time he's in the company of my grandmother, Ann Agnes.

I'm pretty sure this photograph was taken on or near Brighton Pier, and I can't look at it without thinking 'Brighton Rock'. Robert and Ann look like extras on the film set, waiting for Pinkie Brown to make an appearance.

Strangely, my grandmother, Ann, used to tell of how she knew Freddie Mills, the light heavyweight boxing champion, when he was young. At the height of his success, Mills rubbed shoulders with the likes of the Kray twins. In 1965 he died in murky circumstances, having been shot in the head whilst sitting/sleeping in his car, in a cul-de-sac behind his nightclub. The verdict was suicide, although various theories persisted for many years after the event.

More Sepia Saturday participants here 

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges 


  1. Hermione Baddely, now there's a name that shouts 'Tea, Esmond?'

  2. Very interesting history. Its surprising the associations old photo bring up.

  3. Love the picture and the poster too. I've not seen the film, but will definitely be looking out for it. Attenborough and Baddeley. (Was she the "Upstairs Downstairs" one who played Mrs. Bridges?)
    I read Michael Caine's autobiography some years ago and he grew up in that gang-atmosphere with the Krays. Have you seen that film, "Let Him Have It?" It's very good.
    Robert and Ann Agnes certainly are "decked out".

  4. Hermione Baddely is wonderful, by the way. Wasn't she in Gigi? And Bell, Book and Candle?

    I would love to visit Brighton some day, although I've seen it in so many films, I feel as if I've already been there.

    Your grandparents make a handsome couple.

  5. A fascinating story unwinds in this post! Suicide. I am so sure. It appears that Ann has better things to do than stand about posing for photos! She has that "alright, NOW can we have lunch" look in her smile.

  6. I love all the different thoughts and memories this post inspired. As for me, after reading about Freddie Mills's 'suicide,' I remembered the Monty Python bit about the Krays.

    "But he nailed your wife's head to the coffee table!"

    "Oh, yes, at first. 'e was a cruel man . . . but fair."

  7. I always enjoy your posts...thought provoking and a little mysterious! What a great shot here...just wonderful!

  8. What a good looking couple - they do look like they're straight off a film set!

  9. Jinksy

    Are you referring to Esmond Knight?


    Yes, it's amazing how the connections and associations begin to form when the photograph is right in front of you.


    I think it was Hermione Baddeley's older sister, Angela, who played Mrs Bridges. I haven't seen 'Let Him Have It' but I have watched 'The Krays'.


    I think it may have been Hermione Gingold in Gigi and Bell Book and Candle.
    I haven't been to Brighton for years, yet it's only an hour or so from where we live. Shameful isn't it?


    Ann does look a bit keen to get away doesn't she? It's one of those, 'I wonder where they went next?' moments


    You know, I'd forgotten about that Monty Python sketch. I've just reacquainted myself with it and I'm still smiling.


    Thank you. Sepia Saturday is encouraging me to really look much more closely at the photographs in my collection. The results can be surprising.


    They do have a certain something about them as a couple. I have a photograph of them, taken sometime in the 80s, and Ann still looks as though she wants to link arms with Robert, in spite of the frailty that comes in later years.

  10. It is a really nice photo to have of your Grandparents. The railing on the stairs reminds me that they could be on a boat. Interesting read!

  11. Richard Attenborough is a favorite. And your grandparents do look like they're right in the middle of a movie shoot. A transporting photo...


  12. Funny how men used to look a bit spivvish in those photographs. I have pictures of totally respectable family chaps looking like Al Capone.
    Without the big gun.

  13. I just want to take them both out to tea and eat little triangle sandwiches and scones on the pier. See you're reading Ruth Padel's book on poetry. Love it. One of the best around. She's so readable.

  14. Wonderful! Museswings is absolutely right--she even has one foot forward!

  15. Ann Agnes was a petite little thing, next to her handsome beau/husband. And those open-toed shoes - so sexy!

  16. Larry

    This photograph came into my possession about 7 years ago, and I'm really glad it did. I see what you mean, regarding the stairs.


    It's appropriate that you call this a 'transporting' photograph. I find that it draws me into the scene, until I can almost hear the hubbub of the crowd and the whinging seagulls.


    I know what you mean, hence the reference to Pinkie. It's odd to think how they catch our eye today but, in their time, they would have looked and dressed much like the next. I wonder what people will make of us in years to come?


    Of the few tea-time experiences I can remember having with them, little triangular sandwiches are well to the fore.
    Ruth Padel is, indeed, excellent. As with most books I get started on these days, progress is slow, due to my habit of dipping in and out when I a have a minute to spare.


    Thank you. My grandmother does seem as though she's at the starting blocks doesn't she?


    They do look right together, don't they? And I suspect those shoes were a must!

  17. this is a little Gem indeed!
    I especially love sepia seaside photos - this could well be Brighton. Or possibly Eastbourne?

  18. Lettuce

    Thank you. I have strong feeling this is Brighton, because that's where Robert worked for a long time. It's a pity the shot isn't a little wider. Perhaps it would have included a recognisable landmark then. Still, it all adds to the mystery, doesn't it?

  19. I Looked At the photo of Robert and Ann..I imagine Pinkie sliding down the handrail at any moment!

  20. Tony

    Yes, there is real atmosphere in this photograph. A sense of anticipation.

  21. I always got the two sisters confused. I remember Hermione Gingold in "Gigi". It's one of my favourite films.
    Look out for "Let Him Have It". If I recall, it's one of Pete Postlethwaite's earlier roles and Dexter Fletcher of the youth t.v. show, "Press Gang" is also in it.


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