In January 1964 I took four colour slide photographs of birds being fed at the Tower of London. The best of these has been lost. I had used it to produce a calendar for Mum a year or so later. Sadly, of the twelve pictures selected for that present, this is the only one that has sunk without trace. Two others are just not good enough for my eye which is far more discerning now than it was then. If you have just one or two of something in a collection, maybe you are more likely to retain what would be better thrown away. If you have thousands amassed over fifty years, you don’t mind creating a few gaps. These two are now in the bin.
This is the one that, with a considerable amount of retouching, survived for my posterity collection. It is feeding time for the gulls and pigeons that no doubt still gather to snap up the offerings of those generous souls giving up their lunch hours to line the railings and toss bread for the birds as yesterday’s Ibsley woman tossed carrots for the ponies. I fondly speculate that I still occasionally photograph descendants of these very avian symbols of London and The River Thames. Well, I am given to the occasional romantic thought. The woman nearest the camera was a daily visitor. The lost picture contains her outstretched arm and shower of airborne crumbs glinting in the low winter sunshine. I see it still.
A perhaps less romantic observation is that the dockers whose cranes, so prevalent in 1964, no longer line the shores, are long gone from the scene. Five years after this photograph was taken London Docks were finally closed to shipping and sold to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, who set about redeveloping them for residential purposes. Further vast improvements to the area were, of course, undertaken for the 2012 London Olympics.
Today’s weather did not improve in the afternoon, although the storms were not as violent as they had been yesterday. We drove Flo through rain, hailstones, and darkening skies, to blink through drops running down the car windows at the home in Downton we hope to buy. In mid-afternoon it seemed like nightfall to the east whilst a golden sun pierced clouds to the west. I could even see small patches of blue sky in Jackie’s wing mirror.
This dramatic contrast was even more apparent on the beach at Milford on Sea. We went on there for Flo to give Scooby a run around on the coastal footpaths, as the choppy waves crashed on the granite rocks below the cliffs. Turner would have painted the nearer clouds to our right as the sun slowly subsided in a clear blue sky. A young man stood contemplating the scene. At the same time the lighthouse light warning of The Needles, on our left, flashed away, clearly visible against a patch of open sky beneath the untinged blanket of cloud. You will need to zoom in on the picture to see what we could see. I found it amazing that looking out across the same stretch of water, simply by changing one’s angle of view, one was seeing such differently hued cloudscapes.
Scooby trotted up and down for a bit, whilst Flo gave me the benefit of her artistic direction. It was cold, so we didn’t stay outside long enough for Jackie to get into her programme on the car radio. We then showed Flo the town and shopped in the Old Milton Tesco.
This evening Jackie fed us on succulent sausage casserole with the usual array of vegetables. I drank a glass of Trottwood 2011 shiraz, whilst Jackie’s preference was for Hoegaarden,