Thursday, 30 May 2013

Faces in the Crowd 1961/1962

Here are fourteen fascinating glimpses of football spectators taken during Leyton Orient's remarkable 1961/1962 campaign which saw the then Second Division team from North East London promoted to the top flight of English football for their first and only time.

Every week between November 1961 and April 1962 these rather grainy pictures were published in the official programme (Price 6d), and three fans who had been circled in white would win a pair of tickets to the next match.

These photographs of football fans taken just over half a century ago are very unusual. These are not the kind of images that were taken as traditional documentary or publicity shots. They are simply the faces of ordinary people standing on the terraces of a football match snapped by a local newspaper photographer. The addition of the three crudely drawn white circles turn these innocent-looking images into rather haunting compositions.

Were these faces all randomly picked out of the crowd - or perhaps one or two of the regulars were known to the editor of the programme?
Where are the Leather Boys? Spot the the two (uncircled) bikers wearing their motorcycle helmets and goggles
This was the original caption that accompanied the crowd photos. The name of the opposition (in brackets) was changed every week
wave to the photographer and you've definitely got yourself a pair of free tickets

Above and below are the same photo - printed on two consecutive matches but with different faces circled

a bit tricky spotting the three white circles in this one!

...and what happened to the white ink in this very last crowd pic of the season? Did the chap with the flat cap (right hand side) even get to recognise himself?

Monday, 27 May 2013

Roseland, Cuba

Following on from the images that I posted on the 1st day in May, I've just discovered another batch of my photographs taken in Cuba.

This is a selection showing a favourite theme that emerged back in 1992 - snapshots of stationary vehicles that had ground to a halt due to the severe petrol shortage after the Russian withdrawal, post-Soviet era.

I also needed to have that 'Roseland' sign in my collection (Cubano lettering and graffiti to come), so I begin with the odd one out, as it captured a bus on the move.

Was Roseland actually hanging above the centre of the street?

HM 30998

Hotel Packard, Havana
shades of blues

stationary on a zebra, Havana
This amazing scene has re-appeared in my dreams

Did this car belong to Julio?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Juxtaposition #1

an anti-slip tape floor marker - 'Beware of Stairs'

Monday, 20 May 2013

INFORMATION - Useful 01 (for London) Phone Numbers

Following up my previous entry about the Post Office Tower, I now feel compelled to offer up this double-sided plastic information card of 'Useful phone numbers' for Londoners.

The original is 10 x 6.5 cms, and dates from c.1970. Judging by the illustration, and that the very first two numbers were for the Post Office Tower, it's highly likely that the card was distributed from within the building itself.

Even though several numbers are still active - here's an almost redundant collection of long-disconnected numbers for antique phone-based information services. Many of which I remember would often be rung, just to relieve a few moments of sitting-by-the-phone at home boredom.

I wonder if any of these Information Services recordings still exist in an archive? I've a hunch that they only live on in our memories...

And if I may continue to riff on this theme, and to roll on another decade - the Post Office and the telecommunications industry split - with The Post Office Tower being re-branded. Firstly as the 'London Telecom Tower', and then after the 1984 Privatisation, as the 'British Telecom Tower'.

There were other promotional gimmicks too:

In the early 1990s, I photographed this giant yellow British Telecom telephone-on-wheels, which had parked up behind the London Hospital in Whitechapel.

...perhaps an invisible giant was hoping to hear the 'recipe of the day', or was holding on for Bedtime Stories at 6 PM?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Posted at the Post Office Tower

a post about post past

A special cancel on a 3d commemorative stamp that marked the opening of The Post Office Tower, which back in 1965 was London's tallest building at 580 feet (plus its 40 foot high trellis mast). It was built to act as the hub of a nationwide network of microwave relay stations, handling the rapidly increasing use of telephone and television from the late 1950s. The structure had to be tall, since the microwave signals needed an unobstructed route between each station, clear of the highest buildings and surrounding hills

The cancel reads in bold - 'Posted at the POST OFFICE TOWER' - and when the three observation galleries opened in 1966, almost one million visitors had ascended the Tower in that first year alone. London had a futuristic beacon with breathtaking views - and a restaurant just above whose floor revolved through 360ยบ every 25 minutes. But its life as a tourist attraction was unexpectedly halted in 1971 as a terrorist bomb exploded in the observation galleries - never to re-open - and then in 1980 the restaurant itself was also closed to the public.

It's a very short time frame for such an iconic building. All those surviving letters and postcards that were sent around the world from the Post Office Tower are now mere relics of a post past.

I'm now thinking of all those post boxes that were once housed in places that were visited by so many, and which for some reason or other, have since been sealed forever?

back of a postcard 1: "Now overlooking everybody"

back of a postcard 2: "Just going to have a cup of tea"

Above, and below: a series of designs for the special first day covers of the stamp issue that marked the opening of the Post Office Tower, 8th October 1965

Number NL22 in a series of postcards issued by The Post Office, and printed by E T W Dennis & Sons Ltd. 

a later cancel, from 1969, and this time with the slogan 'POSTED IN THE POST OFFICE TOWER'
Post Office Tower as tourist attraction, advert c.1968

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

the Scream House

BARBARIC, UNJUST, SWINDLED and DUPED: just some of the slogans hand-painted on the front of a once-typical terraced house in the Riverside area of Cardiff in Wales. Over the period of several years during my working visits to the City during the early 1990's, I would drop by and photograph what became known locally as 'the scream house'.

At the time, the owner of the house was already a few years into what would eventually become a 17 year-long campaign against the City Council. Over time his lists of grievances - "the nightmare of bureaucracy" he called them - were presented on bold black painted boards, and would become more and more crafted and extensive.  Long written lists would eventually be accompanied by household items like sinks, bicycles or flag poles, and various sculpted objects - and all changing in their wording or their design over the years 

The 'Scream House' inevitably became something of a notorious local landmark, and was hailed by some commentators as an exceptional example of  'outsider art', until in 2005 the Council finally won a court order to have the boards ripped-down from the house.

Here are my original prints which I'd pieced together about twenty years ago to make a bigger picture of the jumble of screaming words. At the time a sympathetic local councillor who had taken up the case of the householder called this particular campaign "a very sad story".  She was right, I'm sure.


UNJUST, 234567



left me to rot
the whole house, front c.1992

house showing man on bicycle and flags, c.1992