Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Ticking Away

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way'

The words are the opening lyrics of Pink Floyd's 'Time', a song which remind us to make the most of life, as before we know it "time is gone, the song is over."

So I'm going to make the most of my time on this post to show a treasured timepiece I own. It's a pocket watch with a silver fob and chain. It belong to my grandfather, but unfortunately I don't have a picture of him wearing it. I do have one of his father wearing his own pocket watch on his wedding day. He seems to have continued the habit into later life as in the few pictures we have of him, there's a chain and fob visible.

Pocket watches like my great-grandfather's were actually developed in the 16th Century and remained common until wristwatches appeared around the time of the First World War. Waistcoats usually had a watch pocket and the chain would be threaded through the buttonholes and secured with a fastener to prevent it being dropped. The pendant was usually more decorative than practical, and sometimes carried the arms of a club or society.

My Granddad's watch is a 'Smiths Empire', probably from some time after the Second World War.This was when the British company Ingersoll, joined with Smiths Industries and Vickers Armstrong, in setting up the Anglo Celtic Company Ltd near Swansea in Wales. The first model featured the same movement as the earlier British Ingersolls and were branded Ingersoll Triumph and Smith Empire. The watch itself is in a chrome case and could be from the 50s or 60s. It has a comforting ticking sound. I love the fact that it declares "Made in Great Britain" both on the face and on the internal workings.

Pocket watches would appear in paintings in the seventeenth century to declare the wearer's privileged social status, as in the case of the noblewoman in the portrait above by Luigi Primo. They also found their way into still lifes, as in the lovely example by Jan van Kessel de Oude. In this case they served to remind the viewer of the fleeting nature of earthly pleasures...which is where I began with the Pink Floyd song.

So, if you have the time, make the most of it and see what others have made of the prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday.

Sunday, 26 August 2012


He dreamed last night he heard again
her dreadful sobs and cries of pain,
her footsteps on the wooden floor,
the handle turning in the door, the lifted chain.

When morning came he braved the room
and entered with a sense of doom,
but dappled sunlight chased away
his heartache, and each healing ray dispelled the gloom.

The mantel clock ticked softly on
she’d left her note there and was gone,
her picture still adorned the shelf
and smiled at him despite herself, the fragile one.

The image stirred a memory fond,
He walked out to the path beyond
the open door, the glistening snow
brought cleansing, showed the way to go, how to respond.

The ancient oak within the wood
called out to him, he understood.
Their carved initials in a heart
declared that they would never part, entwined for good.

The peace he craved came with the noose.
He climbed the rocks and kicked them loose
And now her troubled spirit claims
his soul, and draws it to the flames, they have their truce. 

© Marilyn Brindley

I discovered a verse form called 'The Florette' (created by Jan Turner) at Shadow Poetry Resources. The Florette consists of two or more four line stanzas and has a rhyme scheme a,a,b,a, Meter: 8,8.8.12.Like the outgrowing of a small flower, the fourth line of each stanza is longer, and enwraps the previous lines. Line #4 requires an internal rhyme scheme that rhymes the eighth syllable with the end of line #3, and continues to add on four more syllables than the other lines so that the  fourth line ends rhyming with lines #1 and #2. I do reish an extra challenge and I really enjoyed wrting this.

Taking part in 'The Mag' courtesy of Tess Kincaid, who gave us the image above by Andrew Wyeth, to stir our creative juices. Join us there to see what other contributors made of the image.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A Touch of Wind

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt is a newly married couple descending the church steps, caught by a gust of wind which lifts the bride's beautiful gown and veil. I decided not to follow the weddings theme as I covered it in 'Wedding Day Delay', where you can read about my grandparents and guests having to get dressed up the day after the ceremony as some guests didn't make it in time. My own parents' happy day is well documented in 'Not Rhett and Scarlett'. I decided instead to go with the windy theme.

So here I am with my dog, to whom you were introduced in last week's post in a begging pose. I'm guessing this is about 1964, but I do know it was taken on Silloth beach in Cumbria. My Dad had been stationed there during WW2 and we were making a bit of a pilgrimage during a holiday. Dad was posted to RAF Silloth in September 1941 to service Lockheed Hudsons, Avro Ansons and Airspeed Oxfords. The Winter of 1941-2 was one of the coldest on record and Dad resorted to smearing anti-freeze grease on his hands in an effort to keep his hands warm. Mum was also knittting him long socks with specially oiled wool, which was 'off-ration' but he still succumbed to frostbite. He remembers it as a cold and bleak place at the time and it it doesn't look as if it had improved much twenty-three years later.              

Fast forward about another twenty-four years to 1988, and here I am with my children on holiday in Whitby, North Yorkshire. I believe this was Whitby Abbey, a ruin set on the cliff overlooking the North Sea, which could account for the blustery greeting we received as we rounded the corner of the building. The gust of wind, caused my son to double over, both from the force of the wind and with laughter. My daughter's hair is covering her face but it's not hiding her smile.

And here we are, bang up to date, with me standing in top of our local volcano Montaña Roja this morning. Lanzarote is actually quite a windy island and today with temperatures hitting 37degrees C. it's very welcome. We climbed up before it got too hot this morning and there was really not much more than a light breeze. We have been up there in the past when I have been holding on to this trig point to stop myself being blown over the top. I love it here on a clear day, when we can see the surrounding islands, the lighthouse and other landmarks, and we can pick out our own house down below.Visitors to our house who like to keep fit, are taken on this trek, and usually have their photo taken here or at the cross a little further round the rim of the crater. Alan and Isobel were excused!

For the possibility of being invited to more windy weddings go over to Sepia Saturday where you an see what contributors made of the prompt below.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Bridge

A lone figure stands at the quayside, 
determined, thoughtful, eyes fixed on
the jutting limb beyond.

To sepia-tinted Salford, 
shrouded by the insidious fog
drifting under the bridge, 
mingling with the smoke from the 
‘Mersey Flat’ thrumming gently by, 
and masking its shape.

Valette concentrates his gaze, 
willing another artist to inhabit
this scene, to note his posture.

A matchstick man in a grim,
industrial landscape, projecting
his own vivid impressions,
sending waves of visions, into
Lowry’s mind, creating a canvas,
painting a pictorial prelude.

© Marilyn Brindley

The image is 'Under Windsor Bridge, on the Irwell, Manchester' by the pioneer impressionist painter Adolphe Valette (1876-1942), housed in the Manchester City Art Gallery. The view over the Irwell is to Salford, famous for the industrial landscapes of L.S. Lowry (1887-1976). The 'matchstick man' in the painting pre-figures those of Lowry, whom he tutored, and I imagined it as Valette himself, somehow projecting himself  into the mind of Lowry. A 'bridge' of a different kind.

Read, 'Exhibition for Monet of Manchester who inspired Lowry'.

Thanks to Tess at The Mag for the pictorial prompt and Bren at The Sunday Whirl for helping to make the challenge more interesting.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

A Bag of Bones

For this week's Sepia Saturday photo prompt Alan has given us a WW2 poster of a Rag and Bone man with a dog offering his bone for the collection. Perhaps this is telling us that even the animals were selflessly prepared to make sacrifices  and 'do their bit'. The cheerful bone collector reminds me of Alan, I wonder why. Perhaps he and Amy could re-create the scene for us 2012 style. 

Rag and Bone men, rag-pickers  or bone-grubbers are well known through world history and, sadly in many countries today people still have to scavenge in rubbish tips just to stay alive. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s the call of "Raaaag 'n Bown" was familiar in Nottingham streets. We would rush out with old broken teapots or torn shirts and be given a penny or two, a balloon or a colouring book in exchange. There was no recycling in those days. 

The picture on the right, taken by my daughter just this week in a London street, shows that the tradition is still carried on by 'travellers'. She was focussing on the rather skinny horse and not his cart, but you can see that he seems to have acquired a few pieces of scrap metal to convert to cash.

Whilst flicking through my albums I found this picture of my dog Kim striking the same pose as the one in the poster. He is not offering me anything, but rather 'begging' for some tidbit - perhaps a bone. The picture is nearly fifty years old so it qualifies for a place on Sepia Saturday. That little dog lived for many years and ended his days as the much-loved pet of my parents long after I had left home.

The only other bone related picture I could offer, apart from an x-ray of my wrists which wouldn't be terribly exciting, is this one of my husband at our Hallowe'en party about twenty-five years ago. The sign next to the skeleton on the wall says, "Skeleton staff only tonight...serve yourself or die of thirst!" We thought we were so witty! 

Whilst 'boning up' on this subject I found this little article in this week's Sunday Times newspaper's 'Top Stories From around The World' page. 

Funny Bones

Italy: Staff at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino airport were surprised to discover the outline of a man on their x-ray screens. They soon discovered it was a Norwegian tourist; the unnamed man had arrived to find the check-in desk for his flight empty - and had taken a nap on the luggage conveyor belt.

The belt was started in the morning and he trundled through the system for 15 minutes before being spotted, but was unhurt. An officer said: "There's usually an episode like this once a year."

I'll make no bones about suggesting you go over to Sepia Saturday to see what other contributors have made of the prompt below. If you have a skeleton in your own family cupboard why not join us?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Botticelli had no hand in this scene, 
though the woman’s heavenly body
had once been likened
to that of the Love goddess,
stepping on to earthly shores. 

Her almost divine nakedness
was also half-hidden, 
though not to save the beholder 
from blindness or madness.,
but to disguise her vulnerable beauty.

Her untimely end merited no ethereal cloak
proffered by a goddess of Spring,
instead she wore a paper shroud, 
torn, as her spirit had been, 
ephemeral, as was her life. 

No golden scallop boat 
had borne her ashore, 
fanned by the Zephyrs’ breath. 
Her chosen shell lay cradled like a child
against her breast.

If we press our ears to its nacreous lips 
we may hear her secrets, 
catch the scent of lovers past,
or taste her salt tears,
as we lift it to sound her passing.

© Marilyn Brindley

Image by Francesca Woodman, provided as a creative writing prompt, by Tess at The Mag. The Birth of Venus provided by Sandro Boticelli at the Uffizi Gallery.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Boy on a Bicycle

The boy on the bicycle in the picture above is my Dad, aged about fourteen. I've no idea whether he owned the bike or whether he was borrowing it. It's an unusual pose, with the brick wall as a backdrop. He looks as though he's going somewhere special, wearing smart casual clothes and with his hair Brylcreemed into waves. The advertising jingle for the product went:
This boy on a bicycle is courtesy of Flickr Commons

Bryl-creem, a little dab'll do ya,
Bryl-creem, you'll look so debonair.
Bryl-creem, the gals'll all pursue ya,
They'll love to run their fingers through your hair!

I think Mum must have overdone it over the last seventy years as she can only affectionately kiss his shiny pate these days. I can't tell the make of bicycle either, but at a guess it's a Raleigh which was manufactured in my home town of Nottingham.

I chose the title for the post as it's a track on one of my favourite albums by Terry Oldfield, and was used as a theme for a TV programme called, 'Great Railway Journeys' (1980)*

The picture below shows my great aunt outside her shop and has appeared before in my post about my family of shopkeepers, Open All Hours, where you can read more about the brothers on the right and the time-travelling youngster on the left.

The film director Ridley Scott's first film was called 'Boy and Bicycle', made in 1962 whilst he was a photography student at the Royal College of Art in London. Shot in black and white in 16mm on a budget of £65, It featured his younger brother Tony. The whole film can be viewed on You Tube. Both brothers went on to be hugely succesful film directors. Ridley used the 'boy on a bicycle' motif again in his iconic 1973 TV advert for Hovis bread. Apparently this is the nation's favourite ad of all time and an updated version was made in 2008.  American viewers may have difficulty with the West Country accent. The ad was filmed on Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset and the music, known as 'Going Home', is Dvorák's largo from his Symphony No.9 (The New World). 

Why not  hop on your bike and race on over to this week's Sepia Saturday to see what other enthusiasts have made of the prompt below.

*The album is called 'In Search of the Trojan War and Other TV Themes'

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Awakening

John Singer Sargent. 'A Dinner Table at Night 1884'

She’d hoped for more from this dinner party, the lovely, lonely widow. Making small talk with the animated gentleman her host had so thoughtfully seated to her left, whilst all the time she ached for a sympathetic companion to touch her artistic soul. She so wanted someone to re-discover the poet within her, to light again the spark of creativity. Instead the red glow of the lamps suffused the darkened room only adding to her desolation. She sighed and turned pointedly away, taking a sip of her port, and looked hopefully and longingly at the vacant chair beside her. 
When she looked up he was standing, smiling back at her, deftly sketching in his pocket notebook. She didn’t know whether to speak or smile, or even turn away. In the end the prospect of having to nod politely, and make appropriate noises, whilst inhaling the cigar smoke wafting in her direction, decided her. She turned back and caught the artist’s eye. He snapped the notebook shut and tilted his head slightly, raising his eyebrows. questioningly. She felt the old familiar sensation as her cheeks began to burn, and was suddenly grateful for the dim lighting disguising the reddening glow. She clutched the stem of her glass more tightly and sensed the beginnings of an uncertain smile. 
She felt that he had seen beyond her vulnerable beauty and caught something of the longing to just be alive again, to communicate and share, receive and give. She wanted to speak but found the words just wouldn’t form. She ran her tongue around her dry mouth and fixed her eyes on the silver tableware. There she saw, reflecting back at her, a newly confident woman. She allowed herself the full smile and, eyes sparkling in the now warm red lamplight, answered his question by raising the glass to her lips and draining the last few drops as she turned her gaze in his direction.

© Marilyn Brindley

Taking part in The Mag courtesy of Tess Kincaid. See what others have made of this prompt. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

A Bolt From The Blue

The above scene comes from a postcard belonging to my brother-in-law, who lives in Bangor, North Wales, and is a postcard collector. Aren't I lucky? I was stuck for this week's Sepia Saturday post in response to the picture of policemen running in a race. I could have used a picture of my son, who was no mean sprinter, and who grew up to be a policeman, but even thirty year old school sports day shots are not as interesting to other people as they are to doting parents. It would have been stretching the point a little too, so instead we have just one policeman running. 

My B-I-L is something of an authority on old postcards (as well as being a philatelist of repute) and he tells me he will be using the above 'pc' (sorry I couldn't resist the pun*) for talks he is currently doing around North Wales on comic Welsh postcards. 

It would appear that the gentleman (Mr Walker of London) being urged to "Look Sharp!" by the train guard, is trying to escape the clutches of his pursuers: a landlady, waving an old bill (sorry, there I go again) and a butcher, who has not been paid for his "1/4 lb of sossage." The rather portly policeman, in blue, is also in pursuit as the miscreant makes a bolt for it.
I asked my B-I-L for the more information and a scan of the message.
"I am in Bangor today in all the rain in the Sasiwn. From Nell"

The word 'sasiwn' translates as session or association, and in that period (1907) usually referred to a gathering of people for a religious meeting, perhaps over a day or days, as opposed to a church/chapel service of an hour or so. Many people from the area had moved to Liverpool in the late 1800s - early 1900s. Nell may have been one of those and was now returning to her old place of worship for some big event.

For earlier policeman runners you would need to go back to Bow Street in London, around 1749, when the author Henry Fielding, who was also Chief Magistrate at Bow Street Magistrates Offices, founded what is thought of as the first modern police force. There were just six officers to begin with, paid by central government. The 'Bow Street Runners' was a public nickname for the officers, who did not use the term themselves, considering it derogatory. They were well-known at the time of Charles Dickens' 'Oliver Twist' and George Cruikshank's illustration for the book shows a group of them waiting by Oliver's bedside.**
In Lionel Bart's musical 'Oliver', based on the book, Fagin's gang of boy-thieves sing the song, 'Be Back Soon', where they boast that they can fool the Bow Street Runners as they don't know their tune!

Make a dash for more Sepia Saturday stories, where you can see how other contributors have interpreted the sporting prompt below.

* pc is postcard abbreviated, but PC is Police Constable
**Public domain through Wikimedia Commons