Thursday, 31 March 2011

Leafing Through

One of my favourite places to visit, in blogland, is The Age of Uncertainty. There, you'll find, wonderfully written, fascinating posts, largely about books. But I particularly like it when Steerforth writes about what has emerged from his books, apart from the printed text. All manner of items drop from between the well thumbed pages of his used books, and when mysterious photographs, that once served as bookmarks, see the light of day, prepare to be entertained.

Recently, I've acquired two bound volumes of Popular Gardening (1949 and 1950) edited by Gordon Forsyth. It was published every Saturday, and could have been yours for the sum of 3d.


I turned the pages, and entered a lost world, and in the 1950 volume, I discovered this pressed foliage. Someone out there will be able to identify it, I'm sure. It looks like something vaguely illegal to me.


Further on, the advertisements started to catch my attention. It would be so easy for me to remark on the strange irony of filling your lungs with smoke, in the pleasant surroundings of the countryside. But this is how is was in those days. My grandfather, a countryman, was rarely without a hand-rolled cigarette, and most of his contemporaries shared the same passion for smoking tobacco in one form or other. So, for me, there's a swell of affection for this Player's promotion. Yes, it's bad for your health, but I can smell the turned earth, and hear the clunking engine of the tractor above all else.

I don't know for sure, but these volumes are likely to have belonged to my late grandmother, and a give-away photograph/bookmark was discovered, resting between the pages.


It was taken undoubtedly taken by my great uncle, during a boating holiday he and his wife took with my grandparents, way back. That's my grandfather at the wheel, and my great aunt and grandmother (on the right) sunning themselves in swimsuits...without a cigarette.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Crown Prints

You know how it is, you're four years old, and you've been down in the woods collecting materials for making a 'little foresters' crown. Forging a circle of card to the correct fit, can be tricky. Placing appropriate foliage in a regal fashion, even trickier. Still, the addition of an evergreen accessory makes the project worthwhile.


You arrive home, to a fanfare of shrieks from your twin sisters, before ceremoniously placing your craftwork coronet in the hands of your grandfather. He, in turn, places the precious object on a stool so as to get a decent photograph of it. Thankfully, he remembers to move it to a safe spot, after many snaps, to a surface where a person is unlikely to sit.


The twins have also been busy, creating this colourful collection, no doubt representing Spring as they see it.

Thank goodness for digitisation. We're running out of wall-space!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Sepia Saturday: Let the Good Times Roll

In yesterday's post, I mentioned a very noisy party that was in progress as I was writing. It rattled on until the wee hours and, although the music got turned down before midnight, the hubbub and revelry prevented us from drifting off into the Land of Nod, as we usually do. One thing about living in a rural setting is that raised noise levels carry over long distances, particularly at night.

Mags, in party mood

So, we talked about, and remembered how, we use to celebrate being young. In our land of spinning vinyl, strange Vermouth cocktails and continental beer fuelled easy conversations about the world we thought we owned. The chances of eyes meeting across a crowded room were greatly reduced by the heavy fug. Quality air competed hard with Gauloises, Sobranie and obligatory hand-rolled creations.

When it was party time, we were the sole inhabitants of our moment. Living became compressed to the width of a generation. It wasn't that we didn't respect or consider others living in close proximity, it was more a case that they had disappeared from our consciousness, faded away behind the beat of our drum.

Some say that with maturity, comes experience and wisdom. They forget to tell you about invisibility.

At some point, before we eventually dropped off, I think we agreed that we are getting a taste of the 'generation gap'. By that, I'm not referring to an occupied point on the 'know it all' side of the chasm. It's more a recognition of the terms and conditions of growing older, and a deep-seated awareness of how crucial it is to party when you're young.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes

Imagine you're out on a bright and breezy day, in late Winter. Your nose is numb and your eyes are watering. The run of short days has squeezed your thinking space, collapsing compartments in your mind. A few drops of imagination make their mark on the pristine surface of your common sense.


At some point along a woodland track you stop, and pick up little pieces of interest. A few pine needles and some brittle twigs. Some tiny fragments of hazel nutshell find their way into a pocket.

Later, sheltered from a biting easterly wind, you roll a small piece of modelling clay, make holes in it for eyes and nose. With nutshell ears in place, a scored smile encourages you to add some spiky hair, horns, and a small cone to represent a legless body. You have decreed that this little chap will get around in his world, by bouncing.


You hold your creation close in your hands, as you emerge into the cold once more. Golden paper birds are singing on pipe-cleaner branches in the Spring tree. With a little more time and more materials, you would eventually come across cellophane flowers of yellow and green, towering over your head…but this is not 1967, and you are only four years old, after all.