Saturday, June 21, 2014

They say you can tell a really good painting by the way the eyes follow you around the room ...

Helen of Troy, by Frederick Sandys


Thursday, February 6, 2014

New Cameras ... old folders I didn't have before

A couple of open & closed photos of

recently acquired cameras:

Karomat 36, German made in the 1950s

Vest Pocket Kodak, circa First World War

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Great Storm of St Jude   
               A Topazian Ode

On St Jude’s Day in the year Two Thousand and Thirteen
As mighty a Storm smote the Isle of Wight as many people had seen;
So that many people were heard to say
That the Storm of St Jude would be remembered for many a day.

O, dreadful the story is to relate
That many motor cars and trees did meet their Fate,
Because of the terrible Stormy Weather
That caused them both to be blown together;

For many noble trees were felled that day,
And the Fiend of the Air did loudly bray,
As if to say, “Like the Railway Bridge of Tay,
I will blow down your trees today;
And if your car is underneath
Then it will surely come to Grief!”

And even Arreton Barns' fair Willow Tree,
Once so noble for to see,
And much admired by the folks who visited that resort,
Was rent in sunder by the Elements’ cruel sport;
And was split in three by the Wind’s loud rush,
Even though there was no vehicle beneath for it to crush.

Such strong gusts of wind by the Storm were blown
As were by the Folks of the Wight not very often known,
And the weather station atop the Needles Battery’s tower
Recorded gusts of up to ninety-nine miles per hour.

Quite a lot of people in Atherfield
Were most dismayed, it was revealed,
When the Storm Fiend of St Jude did laughingly
Blow trees upon the power lines and cut off their electricity.

And the ill-starr’d folks at Yarmouth Ferry
Were seen to be very far from merry
When the terrible winds the tides did addle
So that through the water they were forced to paddle.

But that ill wind did blow somebody good, too;
For the lions and tigers at the Isle of Wight Zoo
Will have logs with bark whereon themselves to scratch, and the apes
Will have whole tree-trunks for to climb and perform their merry japes.

At last the cruel winds did blow themselves away;
But for many years people will surely say,
“What a dreadful Storm on the Isle of Wight was seen
On St Jude’s Day, Two Thousand and Thirteen.”

Copyright © Steve Parkes 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Albert on the Isle of Wight

Mr & Mrs Ramsbottom
Were noted for Albert, their son;
And t’young chap were quite worthy
Of note, when all’s said and done.

Now, Ma & Pa & Albert
Were planning a nice weekend break,
As they found that Mr Ramsbottom still had
A few holidays left to take.

Pa looked at Ma a bit sheepish & said,
“Can we give Blackpool a miss?”
Albert said, “Don’t worry, Father—
I’m not going to take … it amiss!

Wallace is having a Sab-ba-ber-tickle[1]
He’s gone off for a year in a car
With a couple of lionesses:
A menagerie-à-trois!”

They went through a long list of holiday spots,
Hoping a nice one to find,
But somehow the Ramsbottom family
Just couldn’t make up their mind.

Then Ma said, “I’ve heard tell it’s gradely
Down on t’Isle o’ Wight,”
Pa said, “If it’s not full of soft southern poofters,
’Appen it might be all right.”

They rode in a charra to Ports-Mouth,
Then took t’FastCat, a kind of a ship,
And sailed to Ryde pier over t’Solent:
Per tuppence per person per trip.

“It be one of the wonders of th’Island, I ’lows,”
A caulkhead[2] tried to explain—
“Royde, where you walk – ’cept when you goo
By car – or by bus – or by train.”

They boarded their train at t’pier-head
To travel the rest of the way,
And rode on the open-air underground line
To a place called Sandown Bay.

Next morning Mrs Ramsbottom
Said, “Why don’t we spend t’day at t’zoo?”
Albert said, “You two go if you like—
I’ll find summat else to do.”

Mother made Albert some sandwiches,
With a Mars Bar and other delights;
Then, taking his stick with the horse’s head handle,
He set off to see the sights.

Well, there aren’t any sights in Sandown,
And he soon tired of walking the street
So he made his way to t’end o’t’pier
And sat down for summat to eat.
He took out one of his sandwiches
And opened his mouth to cram it,
When a voice from over his shoulder said,
“Can Oi cadge a bit o’ your nammet[3]?”

Rummaging in his lunch bag,
The generous little chap
Said, “I don’t think I’ve got any nammet—
But tha’s welcome to share in my snap.”

Turning round, holding t’bag out,
He were going to say “help thasen,”
But his mouth opened wide—
Though, minding his manners, he managed to shut it again.
For the thing that stood before him
That had caused him to drop his jaw
Was the sixteen-foot fossil skelington
Of a cree-taceous dinosaur!

Young Albert looked at t’creature and said,
“By gum, tha’s not half thin,
There’s nowt to thee but skin and bone—
And there’s precious little skin!

“Tha’d best have t’lot, I reckon,”
And dino, holding back tears,
Said, “Thankee, meyat[4] – this is the fust thing Oi’ve yet[5]
For 75 million years!”
“I’m Albert,” said t’lad, and held out his hand.
“Iggy,” said dino, and shook it.
“Art tha really 75 million years old?”
“Oi am,” sighed Iggy, “but … Oi don’t look it.”

Then t’two pals went arm in arm on t’prom
Alongside t’sand for a stroll,
And Albert told Iggy of Wallace the lion,
Who once had swallowed him whole.

They walked along, happily chatting,
And they hadn’t walked nobbut a mile,
When they saw a peculiar building
That bore the name “Dinosaur Isle”.

“Moy word, it’s a per-tera-no-don[6],”
Iggy did happily shout,
“Do ’ee think there moight be any insoide?”
Said Albert, “let’s go and find out!”

They were crossing t’causey by t’Green Cross Code,
Looking both ways all the while,
When out o’t’door shot a fellow
Dressed in a very strange style.

He’d a bull-whip coiled up on his shoulder
And a wide-awake hat on his head;
“I’m Yaverland Jones, the dinosaur hunter.”
“Pleased to meet you,” they said.

“What a magnificent specimen!”
Jones’s words came out in a rush,
“You’re the best-preserved fossil I’ve ever seen!”
Said Iggy, “you’re making me blush!”
Albert’s pal’s now t’star attraction,
With his name in big letters on high:
“Come and meet our new dinosaur—
Iguanodon Ramsbottomi!”

[1] sabbatical
[2] native Islander (incomers living on the Wight are overners; visitors are grockles)
[3] snack
[4] mate
[5] ate
[6] pteranodon

Monday, April 1, 2013

With the centenary of the First World War coming up next year, I've written a song about how Tipperary came to be so iconic of the time, even though it was written two years before the start of the War; and inspired in no small way by Bill Caddick's wonderful The writing of Tipperary. After much research, I present a new song to drive troubles away:

                     The Singing of Tipperary

Back in 1914 when the Kaiser marched on France
Our soldiers crossed the Channel to put paid to his advance.
As they marched from their troopships at Boulogne to go to war
They sang the songs they’d always sung when marching off before.
They sang ‘The Soldiers of The Queen’ and ‘Good-bye Dolly Gray,’
And all the Boulogne people came to cheer them on their way.
English, Welsh and Scotsmen, they sang with might and main;
And from Ireland came the Connaught Rangers singing this refrain:
It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way to go.
It’s a long way to Tipperary, to the sweetest girl I know.
Good-bye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square;
It’s a long, long way to Tipperary, but my heart’s right there!

A Daily Mail reporter, George Curnock was his name,
Was in Boulogne on holiday when all the soldiers came.
Next to him a widow stood, arrayed in mourning black,—
Her man had fought in Belgium and he had not come back.
She asked of George, ‘What song is this they sing so cheerfully?’
He said, ‘It’s from the Music Hall, I think – it’s new to me.’
Non, non, the words, m’sieur,’ she asked, ‘what is it that they say?’
‘They sing,’ said he, ‘to Tipperary it’s a long, long way.’

Ah! les pauvres gars! ’ she cried, ‘how true, how true their song!
A long, long road they go down, they do not know how long.’
The widow’s words were printed in the Daily Mail next day,
With the story of the Connaughts, how they sang along their way.
The folks at home soon took it up, the music sales they soared,
And Kitchener’s New Army too, they took the song abroad.
In England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, countries far and near;
From Flanders to the Dardanelles, the words rang out so clear:

                         Copyright © Steve Parkes 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is this Hilda Norris?

Believed to be a photograph
of Mrs Hilda Norris, "the only
commonplace person to enter
Dimbola Lodge".

A young woman of my acquaintance, who wishes to avoid the unflattering glare of publicity, has asked me to pass on the following information. She has been charged with the disposal of her great-aunt's effect following that lady's decease. Among the odds and ends in her attic was a locked tin box; the key has only recently turned up, and the contents of the box disclosed ... or have they? At some time in its history the box has suffered from inundation, possibly in sea-water, and the contents, mostly papers, have become damp. Many pieces have become stuck to one another, and such individual items as have been separated have been found to be either illegible, where they bear handwriting, or to have surface damage rendering the print incomplete.

However, with the advice of a professional conservator, the young woman hopes -- indeed, is confident -- that much of the papers will yield their secrets in the fullness of time. The above photograph is an encouraging example. She believes it is probably the likeness of her 19th century ancestress, Mrs Hilda Norris, who, according to family legend, enjoyed a brief celebrity among the 'Freshwater Circle' at Dimbola Lodge on the Isle of Wight. I shall be allowed to publish selected items as they become available. Watch this space!