Posts

Showing posts from 2015

Mitchell and Kenyon...

Found in the basement cellar of a shop in Blackburn Lancashire England were over 800 short films of Edwardian life in the North of England. They were made by the partnership of Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon and the films they shot were of local people and events. It is a remarkable glimpse into history. They made the films to be shown at the Music Hall, Town Hall, or Fairgrounds. They were made for commercial reasons with the sole intention of putting ‘bums on seats’ after all, for people to see themselves on a projected screen was something new and quite wonderful!
Between 1897 and 1913 Mitchell and Kenyon made hundreds of short films depicting the everyday lives of ordinary people, and when the business closed its doors in the nineteen twenties their original negative film stock was left hidden away in the basement of the shop. Here it lay for years simply collecting dust until 1994 when a building contractor found three large metal drums c…

The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp...

Episode 16

She would fuss and worry over him. The eggs must be soft! The toast must be light! The bacon must not be salty! She would pour hot green tea for him only, into an important blue and white china cup. One morning on entering the breakfast room, Esme thought she had heard the mention of ‘a photographer’… but it trailed away on the lips of Rose, hunched as she was, in her usual stance; over Edward, and his must be ‘perfect breakfast’. But the mention of a photographer had moistened arid seeds within Esme’s mind and later, when Edward had left the house, she sat for an hour in the upstairs room with the pale red curtain, and wept herself to normality.

This particular morning she possessed a certain peace. A man required flaws in a woman for the benefit of his pride, she had told herself this… But had she flaws? She was not aware of any. Edward seemed to think that she had many! And would scold and abuse her in meridians of sexual indulgence! Some evenings he would s…

Hold-A-Gap-On-Tees...

You need a long memory to remember the early days of ITV Television in the UK. Programme formats were quite different than the sleek productions of today. I can just remember actor Terry Thomas hosting a 15 minute magazine slot around our evening meal in which he endorsed varios products to the viewers. As I recall the programme was called Hold-A-Gap On Tees: a reference I think to the famous gap in his front teeth.
Actor Jimmy Handley also had a similar slot in that he was a bartender in a small public bar and would bring out and demonstrate a number of household products to his drinking customers. Jimmy Handley appeared in a couple of early Will Hay films when in his youth and had a busy career as an actor later on. He is tops in the movie The Black Rider - a dvd from Renown Pictures. TV face Jenny Handley is his daughter.

Classic Films...

Image
There are many great classic films around that we all love and we each have our own favourites, for me, Rear Window released in 1954 does it. An enduring story told in only the way Hitchcock could tell it. With James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, and an early appearance for Raymond Burr, its a plot with a simple logic and that holds the key to its impact. It’s a look into our lives and how some live on the dark side. The original was restored for Universal Pictures by Robert A.Harris and James C. Katz and released on DVD.

At The Gates of Gainsborough...

Image
This has to be a classic shot – My Son and Daughter at the gates of GainsboroughStudios in 1995 before the building was modified. Gainsborough were based at Islington, North London until 1940 and produced many fine British films. They moved the studios to White City after fears that a German bomb could bring down the tall chimney of the one time power station.

Mead Open Farm...

Image
Well, it was Cows, Goats, Lambs and Alpacas along with Cheesy Chips and Climbing frames when some of the family made a visit to Mead Open Farm nr, Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire this week. There were cheeky goats, cute piglets and adorable sheep to soft rabbits, friendly ponies and donkeys. An indoor playworld and a super cafe. The weather was kind to us rounding off a day of complete pleasure.

The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp...

Episode 15

When her toes touched the carpet she felt the cold emptiness of a hollow bottle of wine beneath her feet. Rose had not bought her tea, and Edward must be at breakfast by now. In the dimness of her bedside alarm clock it looked like ten minutes to eight. In moments she had crossed the adhesive lino-floor barefooted and into the bathroom. She drew water to the bowl and sunk her face into its icy coldness. In the bedroom she pushed her feet into fluffy lilac slippers and lifted her nightdress over her head. The tingle of its folds caressed her pert breasts like erotic fingers and she sat nude on the satin-laced stool and gazed into the gilt ornate mirror placed on the onyx dressing table. That reflection had not been uncomfortable to her lately. She lifted the lid of a blue powder box and with her fingers gently blotted areas of suspect skin. Calmness came with the heavy red bruises around her painful lips that brought a reminder of that midnight passion. She put…

Peter Gowland Photographer...

For over 50 years I had communicated with American photographer Peter Gowland. He and his wife Alice often found time to write back to me on matters concerning the art of photography. Sadly Peter died in 2010 at a good age, having spent a lifetime photographing some of the world’s top actors at his studio home in Santa Monica, California. Peter and Alice still have a wonderful and most interesting website, so just hit google search and enjoy. Peter was the son of silent movie actor Gibb Gowland and that in itself provided him with the introduction to much of the Hollywood Studios. Their website is a fascinating insight into the lifestyle of one man and his woman.

Looking Back...

Image
I always find this shot I took of my cousin Shelia back in 1964 as somewhat intriguing and quite engaging. Taken in the style of American photographer Peter Gowland it’s been a firm favourite of mine all these years. Pictured outside in a Bedfordshire meadow, now long built over, and just before Shelia took off for a successful career in London. She celebrates a birthday this week. Happy Birthday!

A 'Not-So' Forgotten British Film...

The Bargee 1963 is a gorgeous romp around the canals of England and features Harry H. Corbett as The Casanova of the Canals with ‘a bird in every lock’ Harry plays Hemel Pike a narrow boat trader who won’t give-up his way of life on the water until one of his women becomes pregnant and he is forced by her drunk of a father to try and find work on land. A colourful film created by the writing team of Galton and Simpson, it also finds room for the talents of Ronnie Barker, Hugh Griffith and Eric Sykes. A very funny film that is both wonderfully nostalgic and beautifully shot in the sunshine of an English summer.

The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp...

Episode 14

He was older than Esme by at least fifteen years and had made a bad marriage of a woman in North London, yet he was cheerful, unaffected, and inexplicably likable. He paid great detail to Constance and made Esme smile at a time when she needed to. His hair was wavy and sandy coloured and his eyes searched you like a little boy. His mind was speculative, thoughtful and engaging, and with his visits that followed his pedigree became more and more acceptable. It further seemed that his parents had property in many of the more fashionable parts of London and rented out to a number of well-heeled and well-to-do families.

It is likely that Esme was never really in love with him, although she may have thought she was! Perhaps she was flattered by him after those months of austere exile and a simple biased breath went a long way. In their relationship there grew a sort of touching erotic need, a kind of understanding of cause and need.

Then quite suddenly they married!…

Forgotten British Films...

For Ever England/Brown on Resolution1935 This is a very strong and convincing piece of film work that gave Sir John Mills his first major part as Brown, a Royal Navy seaman serving in the First World War. As the story unravels Brown becomes a hero as he holds a German ship in port with single-handed expert use of his rifle, and due to this delay a British warship is able to sink the German boat. A thrilling plot even by today’s standards and based on a book by C.S. Forester.

Clara's Cook Book...

As a small boy I remember my Grandmother Clara Goldsmithmade some wonderful tasty meals whenever I would visit her with my parents, and when she died her hand-written recipe book with dozens of unusual dishes came to my mother… And in time to me. Here is her delightful recipe for KEDGEREE that some of you may care to try…

You will need the following ingredients: 4oz. cooked rice, 8-12oz. cooked fish, 2oz. butter, 1 raw egg, 1 egg hard boiled, cayenne pepper & salt, milk, 1 teaspoonful of chopped parsley.

The method: First boil the rice until tender and drain off the water, add finely-flaked fish, butter, beaten egg, the chopped white from the hard-boiled egg, pepper and salt. Stir until heated through on the hob, adding milk if the mixture is too dry. Pile the mixture into a pyramid shape on a hot dish and sprinkle sieved egg yolk and the parsley on top.

Sit back and enjoy!

The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp...

Many of youenjoy reading ‘The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp’ and Stats record over three thousand visitors to my blog each month, therefore I am going to continue to write this story and in smaller more frequent episodes, so thank you all, sit back and enjoy, and lets see where it takes us… Thank you once again 

Episode 13

1926 came and went… Just as did 1927. Those two years were consumed in a sort of animated forgiveness for her mother. An air of informal obedience prevailed, and Charles paled a little in Esme’s thoughts. There were the endless parades of useless dinner parties presided over by her mother… Of politeness and petite-ness, of playing the devoted and yet available daughter… Available that was, to the right sort of man with the right sort of background and the right sort of money, and of course a suitable type for marriage. Life for Esme in those two years became a constant round of afternoon High Tea’s and smartly dressed shopping in fashionable Oxford Street…

Alfred Burke - A Decisive Actor...

Following my recent blog on the TV series of Public Eye it was nice to recall Alfred’s engaging performance in The Night Caller, so I dusted off my DVD of the movie one evening and indulged myself in some utter pleasure…

‘The Night Caller’… Armitage Films 1965. Still, after all this time, has some very scary moments! The title shot of The Thames is evocative! It features John Saxon (later to work in the US), Maurice Denham, and Patricia Haynes - I fell in love with her!… I just adore tall beautiful women… Later she appears in a ‘TV Steptoe’ Also has David Gregory and Romo Gorrara – two favorites of mineRomo went on as a stunt actor -both established hands from many a Butcher Film!  And of course the velvet soft tones of John Carson lend an air of quiet authority. (John retired to South Africa after many British Film appearances)Very decisive is the performance of Alfred Burke, who from 1965-1975 became a household name as Frank Marker in the popular TV series of Public Eye

From my Archives of 2010...

Image
The Grand Union Canal…

Mentioned in an earlier blog was Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire UK, and that brings me to some interesting facts. The Grand Union Canal which ran the length of England was opened at Leighton Buzzard, and that Leighton Buzzard Railway Station was the location for part of the film The Great TrainRobbery made in 1963. The robbery itself took place just outside the town at Bridego Bridge, and turned Ronnie Biggs into a household name.

Frank Marker: Public Eye...

Image
I’ve always been a fan of actor Alfred Burke, whatever he appeared in was a joy, so to find a boxed set of his 1971 ITV series of Public Eye on offer in a local charity shop put me on route to sit down and watch a tv drama that I had not seen for decades. It was simply spell binding and the 4 discs amounting to some 14 shows were compelling over several evenings. It would appear that the series ran on British television from 1965 until 1975 although sadly many of the early episodes have been lost, I think only 5 have survived from the original ATV series and even many of the later ones from Thames Television are only recorded in black and white. The series took in many lesser known actors with one or two  exceptions such as David Suchet, later Poirot, and I guess many are no longer around or have given up acting. Alfred’s charming style along with a strong writing base keep the stories moving along and interesting even in 2015. A wonderful delight for the eyes. Sadly we l…

Out and About in Spitalfields...

So unique, So stylish, So…Vintage!
You can join the capital’s coolest vintage market every 1st Sat of the month at Old Spitalfields Market in the heart of East London. There’s vintage Vogues for your wall from ‘Vintage in Print’, unique clothing from ‘Lady Jane’s Bandwagon’ and chic specs and sunnies from ‘Auntie Aviator’, all at the best prices in town!
Seek dear vintage lover and you shall discover…
Vintage womenswear from 1950 – 1990
Vintage menswear
Vintage bags, shoes and accessories
Trend led vintage picks – (cheaper than the high street!)
Vintage and handmade jewellery
Vintage maps, prints and books
Vintage china, crockery and tea sets
Vintage homeware, glassware and kitchenalia
Delicious cupcakes by Betty Lou
The most knowledgeable vintage traders this side of London!
They’ll also be roaming street style snappers to reward the most stylish shoppers with £5 vouchers and the opportunity to book in for a free vintage personal shopping appointment with one of the vi…

Stockwood Park, Luton UK...

Image
The ornate Italian Garden at Stockwood Park in Luton, Bedfordshire, England, now forms an area that once presented a WellHead in front of Stockwood House demolished in 1964. Stockwood Park and Gardens are spread over a large landscaped area that offers craft museums and a golf course. There is also an Elizabethan Garden, Dutch Garden, and an Improvement Garden with sculptures of Roman and Greek Influence. We spent an enjoyable day there last summer, also taking in The Mossman Carriage Collection.

The Brighton Promettes...

Image
These are Brighton Sussex UK Promettes of 1952. The Visitor Information Centre of its time. For those men amongst you that like girls with brains there was no better place than Brighton, Sussex, England in the 50s! Formed from ex-models, these girls would offer all types of advice for your holiday stay in Brighton… But no dating though chaps!

Bletchley Park - Home of the Codebreakers...

Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes England was a secret for over 30 years. Once it was Britains best kept secret. The Enigma cipher machine was developed and used here during the second world war to break the German codes. It was very successful and believed to have shortened the war by around two years, saving countless lives. Today the park is open to the public as a heritage site and museum, and Marilyn and I explored the wide range of exhibitions and learnt how its codebreaking successes worked. More incredible than fiction, the story of Bletchley Park was a desperate race against time. The mission of codebreakers like Alan Turin, was to crack Germany’s coded communications, such as those sent via the German Enigma machine. Bletchley Park was Churchill’s secret passion; he called the codebreakers his “Geese that laid the golden eggs but never cackled” 8.500 people worked at Bletchley Park during the war and all done with amazing secrecy.
Colos…

Forgotten British Films...

Climbing High 1938  A situation comedy that perhaps could be called something of a love triangle. It features Jessie Mathews and Michael Redgrave as Diana and Nicky who meet at a modelling agency. Nicky is a wealthy young man calling himself John Smith and takes on extra modelling work to be near Diana who at first wants nothing to do with him. Also in the frame is Lady Constance played by Margaret Viner and she simply wants to marry him for his money. There are some very funny moments in the movie as when the custard pies start flying around in the agency. An amusing film for its age. Also features Enid Stamp Taylor in a lesser role.