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."

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


  1. Hello Marilyn:
    Woe betide those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law in Bangor! What fun the postcard is, we can well imagine that your brother-in-law must have a fine collection and this one is certainly appropriate for today's theme.

    It is truly amazing how much detail the small postcard contains and the expressions on the characters' faces are pictures in themselves!

  2. Nell what a lovely post. At first when I saw Bangor of course I thought of around here, and Maine, but surely I knew the more I read it was not to be. Your B-I-L sounds like quite a fun person to be related to. That postcard is just too good to be true for this week's theme...and it is real! I am always fascinated with photos and post cards that relate to the real truth and expression of life and our grandest or not so grandest moments! Wonderful post.

  3. Terrific. Nell must have had a good sense of humor choosing such a card. And the card got chosen a second time, by a second Nell with a good sense of humor.
    What a coincidence.

  4. I hope they caught him before he made the train!

  5. That's a fun card. I actually have a postcard a picture of a policeman and a double meaning for PC -- "police constable" and "post card."

  6. A fun response to this weekend's theme. The style of the card reminds me of the early American newspaper comic strips, which usually involved some gent in a top hat avoiding the copper.

  7. This is what I like about Sepia Saturday prompts, you get so many different views on the same theme. And this one is fun! Thanks.

  8. Nell, I couldn't make up my mind whether to do the Bow Street Runners but Buster Keaton won in the end.
    Superb card that could not be more appropriate.

  9. This is perfect ... and to have the message signed and sent by Nell ... it was meant to be! To cheat the butcher is a bad crime indeed.

    Kathy M.

  10. Another great post, Nell, and postcard! The constable bears a remarkable resemblance to the village policeman I remember from my childhood. One PC Fawcett.

  11. Like the ink drawings of the enraged police force pursuing the fleeing debtors. It happened that people did not have the money to pay the grocer; the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker! The police force was not very big, have we become so much worse? Really enjoyed your interesting post.

  12. Post cards, Victorian literature, and musical theater all wrapped up in one blog package. It's a full day! You set the bar high.

  13. I have to say that there is only one thing better than a brother-in-law who collects old postcards and that is a great uncle who collected postcards (which eventually passed down to oneself). Great card.

  14. I thought Bangor was a city in India but now I know it is located in Wales. Nice 19h century book illustration, I like that style.

    1. And don't forget Bangor Maine, once the lumber capital of the world.

  15. What a great post! Informative, historical and humorous all rolled up together!

  16. What a fun postcard! Thanks for the history lesson - I'd never heard of Bangor, Wales or the Bow Street Runners. Sepia Saturday always provides an opportunity to learn something new.

  17. that post card was so perfect for this week's theme and also perfect that it came from Nell!

  18. Loved this post and I am also leaving in great haste, to go to work!!!!!!!!!!!!


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