Friday, 21 November 2008

Club Night

Last night we played the Highfield Road Servicemens' Association club in Blackpool.

Poor David has been suffering since the Saturday gig with flu and looked as though he should have been still in bed really but we gave them a good night and a chance to exercise their vocal chords singing along to country, folk and sixties songs, finishing up with Quo's Rocking All Over The World.

David explained he looked a bit rough due to being on heavy drugs (Lemsip) and the audience gave us a rousing burst of applause at every song ending and afterwards as Fran was standing by the pile of equipment we were ferrying to the car across the road many of them could be heard saying how much they had enjoyed the night.

So did we...Even David was back to his usual self after a few songs and the adrenalin had shaken off the flu for a while!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

In Conference Mode

Before anyone comments I've gone quiet again, I must confess to being down in Birmingham at the 3-day Association of Colleges Conference.

Having sat through a number of ministerial sessions (stood through for one of them...) you could be forgiven for thinking that the conference theme was all about colleges engaging with business. It's an obvious priority at the moment and this is a good thing for me, because I'm currently project managing a JISC-funded project "Embedding BCE (Business & Community Engagement) through Business Process Improvement and Internal Engagement". A bit of a mouthful - so I'm calling it simply "Embedding BCE".

We're working with 5 institutional partners (UK colleges and universities) to find and highlight areas and examples of good practice and identify barriers and issues surrounding such work. It aims to help the 5 partners to identify ways improve their current business processes. It will give a picture of how well embedded BCE work is currently and produce online resources to help other institutions do the same for themselves.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Creeping Bentgrass Gig

Last night we played a gig for Garstang Light Opera Group's annual fund-raiser out at Claughton.

We had a great night there, with lots of comments about how tight we sounded as a band and how we get better each year.

Someone even went as far as to say he'd never heard me play a bad note and his guitar teacher had told him he had a good ear for music. Well, I suspect he wasn't listening closely enough - anyone who can get through a full night without at least one bum note is either a superb musician - or just isn't drinking enough...

No... before I get in trouble with the others, I should point out that we tend not to drink alcohol very much on a gig. Shandy is about the most virulent substance to pass our lips and once on stage, water is the staple diet!

Anyway, we had a number of new songs since we last played for GLOG - Kenny Rogers' The Gambler, Creed's Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Quo's Rocking All Over The World, Smokie's Living Next Door To Alice - hey you, keep those lyrics clean! - The Shadow's Foot Tapper, The Ronnettes Be My Baby, The Dave Clark Five's Glad All Over, The Beach Boys' Then I Kissed Her, The Bee Gees Words, The Turtles Happy Together, Billy Fury's A Thousand Stars...

It was a great night. Oh... and Fran got completely squiffy... She had us posing for a photo for ages whilst she kept pressing the on-off button...!

Large Versons of the Photos: on stage, posed photo

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Blackpool Golden Mile

Another postcard today. This shows Blackpool's famous Golden Mile from the Victorian era.

The arcades are yet to appear and the Golden Mile instead is lined with hotels all of which have gardens before them! The Golden Mile grew up when the hoteliers realised they could make more money from renting their garden space to hawkers and peddlars than they were making from the hotels. Booths were set up selling sheet music, Blackpool rock, drinks and food and then the sideshows swiftly followed. The two-headed girl, the human spider and all sorts of garish and unlikely sights. Sheet music sellers would employ singers and musicians to draw large crowds to sing along. It was all great fun!

To see what it was like by the 1930s, watch the Gracie Fields film Sing As We Go. Whether you like Gracie Fields or not, the film records for posterity exactly what Blackpool was like in those days! The postcard photo was taken (of course!) in black and white and has been painstakingly painted and coloured.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Zebra Joke

Back in the 1980s I used to freelance photos and articles to magazines a lot. A regular place to visit was Blackpool Zoo which gave me the chance of lots of photos that could be used for caption competitions of which there were (and probably still are) lots of examples in all kinds of publications.

This one was featured in the womens' magazine Annabel I also had similar photos published in She, in the Club Canon members magazine and even in the magazine of a photo develop and processing company. This one was always one of my favourites though, if for no other reason than you seldom see a zebra yawning. My favourite caption? "Silly ass! You left your pyjamas on!"

"Pssst! Don't tell anyone I told you this but..." Actually the raised foot belongs to the parrot at the back. I wasn't so lucky!

"Where shall we go today?"

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Laying The Boggart

On the corner of a lane in a tiny place called Dilworth in Lancashire lies a huge slab of stone in the bank.

On the stone are carved the words: Ravffe:Radcliffe:laid:this:stone:to:lye:for:ever:A:D:1633: By legend Ravffe, or Ralph, used the stone to imprison a boggart, an evil spirit that haunted the lane after dark.

It is said that at some time in the following centuries the farmer at the nearby farm thought the stone could be better used in his buttery and took it from the hedge. He was plagued though by such ferocious poltergeist activity, that he changed his mind and replaced the stone in the bank where it had come from. The poltergeist activity stopped. The strange thing is... six horses were required to drag the stone downhill to the farm. Yet only one was needed to take the stone back uphill to its resting place...

The first two photographs were taken in 1990. The last time I went to look at the Written Stone, as it is known, was in 2000 Millenium year and the stone had been made into a seat - the bank of earth must have been moving and now requires a wall to keep it up, so the stone has been incorporated into it as a bench. Fancy your chances sitting on it?

Return to Legends, Lore and Superstition Index Page

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Travelling for Work

It's 8:00am and I'm just preparing for a trip to York to meet up with the staff at JISC TechDis to discuss a project that we're jointly involved with.

Travelling for work often sounds glamourous to those who don't do it, but it's very seldom that I see anything of the places I go to! I see the venue for whatever event I'm going to and, if it involves an overnight stay, the hotel. And many times that's it.

If I'm in London I normally go out for a walk and eat somewhere around Leicester Square but in most other places it's just a quick nip out to find the nearest restaurant and back to the hotel. When I started doing this I was full of visions of exploring, doing cinema and theatres but it's just not like that.

In reality it's more likely to be eating on the way in a grotty motorway service station, getting to a hotel around 9:00pm, having a quick drink in the bar and checking the day's emails before bed. Glamourous? I don't think so...

The photo (of course) was taken on a previous non-work-related trip!

Large Version of the Photo: York and Bootham Bar

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Remembrance and Chatsworth

It's the 11th of November - to mark the moment of the signing of the Armistice of the First World War it has become tradition to pause for two minute's silence at 11 o'clock on the 11th of November.

Whether you are religious or not, it can be a time of reflection and respect for all those who gave their lives to protect a free way of life through two world wars and countless others before and since.

Every family has been affected by war at some stage in its past. My Grandad fought on anti-aircraft guns in Burma and the far east. Fran's dad was a prisoner of the Japanese for almost four years and his health suffered from it until his eventual death almost 50 years later. I had a Great Uncle who was in submarines in World War One. Now that must have called for a certain amount of bravery!

So this entry is my own small tribute of respect to all those who fought and served in other ways through war. To those who came back. To those who fell.

The photo of the poppy was taken in the gardens at Chatsworth House in 1996.

The Chatsworth negatives have just surfaced to the top of the pile, so there's a few photos of the house and grounds at my Flickr account.

Large Versions of the Photos: poppy, Chatsworth House

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bonfire Night 1981

A bit of a wet washout for anyone hoping to get a bonfire in tonight. Last night wasn't too bad but this afternoon Blackpool's had rain, sleet, hail, thunder and lightning. On Wednesday night, which was the night - 5th November - I was on a train coming down to Blackpool from Glasgow. No, I'd not been to the Manchester United / Glasgow Celtic match, I'd been delivering a workshop there for work.

I saw a very few fireworks as the train sped south through Scotland and not very many through the Lake District but once I got off the Glasgow-Euston express at Preston to catch my local train to Blackpool, the sky was constantly lit up by the flashes of exploding fireworks.

The photos are from my collection. I took them on 5th November 1981 when a few folk gathered to light bonfires on the beach. It was a low tide that night...!

Return to Blackpool Promenade and Beach Index Page

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Blackpool Gondola

A postcard picked up from the antiques and collectors' fair at the Winter Gardens the other week. This shows the special illuminated tramcar shaped like a gondola (well it is if you've never been to Venice) that dates back to around 1949 when the Illuminations started again following World War II. The tram was rebuilt from bits of much older tramcars and remained in service along with a lifeboat shaped tram and a couple of standard tramcars with light displays on the exterior to the end of the 1950s by which time the wiring was in such a state that passengers were apt to light up themselves if it rained whilst they were riding on it...

The postcard started life as a black and white photograph with just about everything apart from the riders and the sea in the background having been lovingly obscured in paint with all the finesse of a decorator with a blob of Dulux on a 2-inch brush! A few of the passengers have been painted over and one black and white woman in the centre of the photo has a blue coat to make it look like the tram driver and conductors have black coats that were other than an accident whilst painting out the background, which was presumably daylight! The postcard was published in Blackpool by the Saidman Brothers and indeed the front boasts "Photo by Saidman Bros". Presumably one took the photo whilst the other(s) wielded the paint brushes...!

Update: Well would you believe it! Obviously all those people visited again whilst wearing different colours...

Friday, 7 November 2008

Blackpool Hounds Hill Centre 1982

One for the Vanished Blackpool series. I'm afraid I haven't stirred myself yet to take the camera into the newly refurbished and enlarged Hounds Hill Centre in Blackpool. I did note that it had a tiled surface leading down a slope towards the new Debenams that made me wonder about how slippery it might be when the weather outside was wet. I always seem to choose shoes that at the merest hint of moisture skid all over the place leaving me floundering and waving my arms about like windmills whilst onlookers point and laugh...

Anyway, by way of making up for this lack of photographic effort, here's an older photo, shot in 1982 of the then relatively new Hounds Hill Centre when it had an open front much used by buskers. One of the regulars I remember was a Franciscan monk who, to his credit, never laughed when I fell over on a wet floor...

A bit of music always provided a good atmosphere and at the time there were some good musicians playing lively music.

A folk band playing jigs and reels at the rear entrance to Houndshill.

Return to Blackpool Town Index Page

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Blackpool Central Pier Big Wheel

I'm back! Yes, the new broadband setup has taken place and I'm now able to connect once more from home. All I need now is some time to connect from home...

So, once more apologies to those who were wondering where I'd got to, but even had the connection been a bit earlier I seem to have spent so much time away from home just recently I'm not sure it would have made a lot of difference! This week for instance, I left Blackpool on Monday and have been to Birmingham and then Glasgow. I got home last night to a raptuous welcome by Fran - along the lines of "Shush, I'm watching The Bill and Silent Witness..." Good to be home...

Return to Blackpool Central Pier Index Page