I haven’t done one of these jolly posts for ages. It was bitterly cold at the market early this morning but busy. I bought the daffs, which will soon be out, some beautiful rhubarb and other veg plus a few bargains.
more spoils )
Someone I never knew but should have done.

Frank Aldridge. He’s the little boy in the back row, wearing a striped blazer. My husband’s uncle. He was shot down and killed flying over the Netherlands. I have many heartbreaking letters exchanged between his parents and kind Dutch people. Frank must have been still at grammar school in 1939, then joined the RAF as soon as he could. He was nineteen when he died.
It was freezing cold at the market on Saturday, as it remained for the rest of the day and Sunday. Apart from fruit and veg, my only purchase was a bundle of old photographs. They’re mostly late nineteenth century and I like the fact that nearly all have the name of a local (to me) photographic studio on the front, sometimes with ornate detail on the back. I buy these to convert them to images for cards. The photo of this young girl is later than the others but I took a fancy to her. She reminds me of Winifred in Ballet Shoes.

I confess I’ve been in tears this morning, looking out family mementoes of the First World War. There’s not much, and almost nothing from my side of the family.


There must be millions of these embroidered cards sent back home by the Tommies. I believe that making them was quite an industry for French women. This one was sent by my husband’s great uncle. When you lift up the flags, there’s a little card inside and on the back, written in pencil, ‘Best love from Bert 9.9.16.’ I wonder where he was? Here’s some more of the cards he sent.


I find it touching to think of this country boy, who in his long life probably only left his village in order to go to war, sending these little tokens back home. I was lucky enough to meet him soon after I was married, when he proudly showed me his absolutely perfect vegetable garden. He was a real countryman, who taught the young cybersofa to shoot and took him out rabbiting. The only reason I have these cards is that his wife gave them to me, knowing that I taught history and thinking I’d be interested. I’m surprised she would part with them.
sadder stuff )

The first Test against New Zealand starts today! I’m very glad, as it will help me through a horrible day of noise and freezing cold while I have the kitchen door replaced. Coincidentally, I’m reading More than a Game by John Major. I absolutely loved the preface, in which John Major writes of his own life in cricket, famous cricketers he’s met and so on. He’s very good at anecdotes. After that, sadly, it becomes a book with John Major’s name on it. He credits a team of researchers, then makes the error of putting down everything he’s learned, as people do when writing a bad essay. So I’m skimming through pages of history (which I know anyway) in search of the nuggets which are actually about the history of cricket. The author’s love of the game shines through, which is what keeps me reading and the book is full of the kind of arcane facts which cricket fans like so much.
olden days )
Haven’t done one of these posts for quite a while. The postcard shows the terminal at Gatwick Airport and is postmarked on the back August 1963. In those days, we had legible postmarks on our mail! The senders were just setting off on holiday and sent a last minute card to a friend. Can you imagine sending such a card today?


Usually I have to confess that I can’t remember which book the found item was in but this one I’m sure of because I only got it yesterday. Our local Co-op has introduced a bookcase where people can donate books, videos, DVDs etc. There’s an honesty bucket for Mencap. The books are almost always rubbish paperbacks but yesterday there were lots of hardback Georgette Heyers! They were all in different editions and none had a dustwrapper. Rather sad, really, as probably someone had died and her whole collection been donated. As so often, I couldn’t remember which particular edition I had of any book so I just rummaged for firsts. Best buy: a first of Cotillion which I had in a book club edition. I’m purist enough that I’ll probably keep the first, even though the book club copy has a pretty dustwrapper. No chance of going to the market this morning, due to heavy rain, so these books will be my only find of the week.

Two sepia photographs, printed on card. The one of the woman has '1878' written on the back.

Who were these people and why were their photographs of so little value to anyone that they were left in a book? This always seems sad to me. It's common now to see boxes of photographs for sale and there is a market for them. I've got quite enough old photographs, some of people I can't identify, to want any more. Yet I feel guilty at the thought of throwing them out. So here's a poll.

[Poll #1645889]

Greetings to all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts past and present! 100 years of Girl Guiding this year; they must be doing something right.
The photo is a newspaper clipping showing me as the youngest Brownie in the pack with our mascot doll, nearly as big. I don't expect today's Brownies dance around a giant toadstool singing,

'We're the ever helpful Imps,
Quick and quiet as any shrimps.'

More Guide posts here.

I think I first met Miss Read when my mother borrowed her books from the library. Years later I acquired a number of first editions but got rid of them in one of my purges. The problem was that the later books were dull and I’d forgotten how interesting the first ones are. Recently I picked up a bundle of the latest paperback reprints and just yesterday I felt like a re-read. When I first read the books, the social history aspect of them passed me by completely; they were just pleasant country stories. Now I see how uncosy they actually are: some children are ill treated, sanitation is poor, expectations low, an elderly spinster teacher faces a bleak future. Miss Read had forty children in her school, whereas I went to a school with more than forty children in each class. My late husband, though, went to a school just like the one at Fairacre. Poor little boy, he was so much cleverer than all the other children that he had to be in a special class all on his own. His mother, uncle and grandfather all attended the same school. and here they are )

Nuts in May

Apr. 7th, 2009 05:49 pm

There’s been a lot of publicity about the release of the Mike Leigh at the BBC DVD set. Of all Mike Leigh’s films, my favourite is Nuts in May and with good reason. Picture this… )

This is my Grandad as a Tommy in the First World War. He was a lovely man and I remember him very well, although he died when I was young. Baldrick in Blackadder Goes Forth always reminds me of him; not because Grandad was stupid but because he was a little Cockney.

This is Vera Brittain, an educated, upper middle class woman and the subject of last Sunday’s BBC TV programme A Woman in Love and War.
Cut for heretical opinions )

My great grandfather in his garden. Should that be hyphenated? I never know.

The photo was obviously taken in May. I don't have a date for it but I'm guessing 1930s before he retired and moved house. What a lot of lupins he grew; I think this would have been before the Russell lupins were introduced. I'm fascinated by that bust in the left hand corner. Wish I had it!
My sister and I are sorting through piles of Stuff, which includes a lot of artwork and photographs. This is one to keep. It is a photograph of one of our mother's two sisters as a baby. The picture has been tinted and painted by our grandmother. We see from the back that this photo cost 17/6, which was a lot of money in those days. Sadly, we never knew this aunt as she died young when I was a baby. Charming, or what?
Little did [livejournal.com profile] roseleare know what she was unleashing when she merely posted the words of 'Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver'. A host of Girl Guide memories, that's what.

We were not a very smart company. Here's a cut before more pictures. Read more... )
Since being pointed there by [profile] minniemoll I’ve become a regular reader of
dovegreyreader’s blog. In an idle moment I looked up her entry in LibraryThing . Who doesn’t want to know what books other people have got? I despair of ever getting round to doing this myself: the thought of cataloguing thousands of books is just too daunting. Typically trivial minded, I was sidetracked by the photo (of herself?) she has put there. Not so much the charming child portrait but the obviously Pedigree doll with her, which looks the same vintage as my own. So here for your delight is a picture of three little girls with their dolls.



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