Focus On History


For my last birthday, Shelly and Ron gave me “Eyewitness – 150 years of Photojournalism” by Richard Lacayo and George Russell. Published by Time magazine this covers the history of such photography up to 1995.

The book is a collection of important pictures stitched together by a series of erudite essays from the two writers. I finished reading it today and found it fascinating. Some of the images were familiar to me, but many were not. What I have chosen to feature here is necessarily idiosyncratic, but I hope it will provide a flavour.

Boulevard du Temple, Paris 1839

I start, as does the book, with ‘the first known photograph of a human being’. Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre exposed this image of Boulevard du Temple, Paris in 1839. Because, in those early days, exposure times were several minutes, any moving thing, such as carriages, horses, or pedestrians would pass on by without leaving a trace. Except for the man standing still for long enough to have his boot polished. Can you spot him?

The Crawlers c1876-77

Some early photographers set out to expose social ills. John Thompson made his picture ‘The Crawlers’ in about 1876-77. ‘Crawlers’ “were poor people so malnourished they would literally crawl to fetch water for the hot tea on which they chiefly subsisted. This woman held a small child all day for its mother, who had found a job in a coffee shop.”

Street Arabs at Night 1889

Jacob Riis’s ‘Street Arabs at Night’ in about 1889 slept on “warm spots around the grated vent-holes” in New York’s Lower Manhattan.

Important events could now be recorded. We are told that in 1908 James Hare “had taken a picture that proved the Wright brothers’ plane could fly”. At that time we still believed that the camera could not lie.

Yalta Conference? 1990

However, certainly by 1990, when Paul Higden  produced ‘Yalta Conference?’, which included “some latter-day gatecrashers”, we had become disillusioned.

A number of photographers brought back images of combatants in the American Civil War, but it was neither technically possible nor seen to be desirable to photograph the action.

British artillerymen 1917

That had to wait until World War 1 when an unidentified photographer produced this painterly picture of ‘British artillerymen feed[ing] an 8-inch howitzer’.

Normandy invasion on D-Day 6.6.42

Robert Capa was there with his camera for the ‘Normandy invasion on D-Day’, 6th June, 1944. Unfortunately the is one of only a few images of this event that were saved, most of the others having been destroyed in a dark-room accident.

In 1947 Capa, with David Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William and Rita Vandivert, and George Rodger formed that prestigious photography group, Magnum.


The Cartier-Bresson picture I have chosen for this piece does not feature in this book. It comes in the form of a postcard sent to me by Giles. The image is of a typically candid shot from this photographer, at the Brasserie Lipp in Paris, taken in 1969.

Bangladesh 1971

A later member of Magnum was Don McCullin. In the 1960s and ’70s he “became one of the best- known chroniclers of war and misery”. This picture demonstrates the sensitivity that this man exemplified.

Joseph Goebbels 1933

I have selected two images by Alfred Eisenstaedt which book-end WW2. It is amazing that he managed to walk away unscathed when he photographed Joseph Goebbels at a League of Nations Assembly in Geneva in 1933. A year or two later it would surely have been a different story.

Mother and Child at Hiroshima 1945

I’d rather witness the hate of Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda than the devastation of this ‘Mother and child at Hiroshima’ that Eisenstaedt portrayed in 1945.

Migrant mother 1936

Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant mother’ from a California migrant workers’ camp in March 1936 “is one of the best-known icons of the Dust Bowl era”.

Suicide 1942

Finally, who, old enough, could examine Russell Sorgi’s 1942 ‘Suicide’, without being transported back to 9/11?

This evening we finished our Chinese takeaway meal.

A Clip Round The Ear


Early this afternoon Jackie drove us off to the north of The Forest. Refraining from the opportunity to indulge in her customary giggle on passing Sandy Balls, she settled for a late lunch at The Fighting Cocks in Godshill.

View from The Fighting Cocks

Cattle 1cattle-2The view from the pub across to the green always includes animals. Today we had a predominance of cattle, including one of the Highland breed.

Pony and crows

The one pony in sight sheltered under a tree, surrounded by grubbing rooks.

Filled Yorkshire pudding meal

My choice for lunch was a large Yorkshire pudding filled with the pubs own tasty home made sausages, creamy mashed potato, fresh peas and onion gravy. This made me think of my maternal grandmother, a Yorkshirewoman whose eponymous puddings were made in a large baking tin. I drank Doom Bar. Jackie enjoyed a baked potato containing cheese and beans, accompanied by a coke. The publican was very friendly and accommodating of a couple who had turned up for a meal after 3 p.m.

Donkeys in car park 1Donkeys 1

Donkeys had taken over the gardens and car park.

Donkeys and cattle

This engaged some of the customers.

Family and donkeys

The crouching girl showed sensible discretion as she rapidly rose to her her feet which led her legs away faster than the rest of her as she clutched an adult hand when the donkey paid her some attention.

Donkeys scratching

Two other asses availed themselves of wooden posts for a good scratch

Donkey on road

then set off down the road in search of some traffic to disrupt.

The Fighting Cocks mural

The skilful mural decorating one of the inside walls of the hostelry obviated the need for me to photograph the building.

This is the time of year when, if you are quick, you will see sounders of swine as they speed through the forest, snuffling, foraging, grunting and squealing in search of mast, or acorns and other fruit of the trees.. The first group of these had vanished by the time I emerged from the car. This is an extract from the New Forest website:


Pannage is the practice of releasing domestic pigs into a forest (also known as ‘Common of mast’), and goes all the way back to the time of William the Conqueror, who founded the New Forest. Pannage is no longer carried out in many areas but can still be observed every year here in the New Forest National Park. In the Autumn after the acorns, beechmast, chestnuts and other nuts have fallen, up to 600 pigs will work their way through the forest eating them from the forest floor.

You can usually find the pigs roaming the forest floors from around the third week in September or whenever the acorns begin to drop from the beautiful trees. The exact Pannage dates are decided by the New Forest Verderers and the Forestry Commission and is based on seasonal variations. The 2016 Pannage season start[ed] on 12th September.”

Gloucester Old Spot pig 1

Near North Gorley I managed to catch a trio of these animals including a Gloucester Old Spot. Note the rings through the noses, which would be the envy of some of our young people.

Pig head butt

The larger of the other two pink ones suddenly delivered a ferocious snout side-swipe to the other. The open mouth gives an indication of the decibels achieved by the resounding squeal emanating from the victim. Perhaps this was Mum administering a clip round the ear.

Gloucester Old Spot pig 2

It is difficult to convey the pace at which these apparently cumbersome creatures hoover the forest floor.


After they had had their fill they flopped by the roadside.

Speaking of having had one’s fill, you have seen my late lunch, so will not be surprised that I did not join Jackie this evening in a second helping of our Chinese Takeaway.

Maybe Not


Jackie, possibly because she is a day or two ahead of me with the cold, felt able to go on a short drive today. She took us to Highcliffe where we watched the sea for a while before returning home.

This gave me the opportunity to photograph a pair of surfboarders.

Surfers 1

Here they are, in tandem, on their way.

Surfers 2Surfers 3

Soon they became less synchronised,

Surfers 5

Surfers 4

and one stretched out on his board and contemplated his best approach.

Surfer 7Surfer 8

Ah! That’s it.

Surfer 4

Maybe not.

Surfer 1Surfer 2Surfer 3

Surfer 5His friend seemed more successful.

Surfer 6

Maybe not.

Hordle Chinese Take Away provided our meal this evening. I drank Doom Bar.




220px-maulwurf_gefangen2007Moles are small creatures that live underground. They rarely surface in the clear light of day, but throw up evidence of their presence as they tunnel seeking mates.

They are considered vermin highly destructive to crops, and have been traditionally hunted down for centuries.

Wikipedia, as well as providing this photograph of a captured creature, tells us that ‘traditional molecatchers travelled from farm to farm. The molecatcher’s customers would provide food and lodging, as well as a fee for every mole caught. The molecatcher could also earn money by selling the moleskins to fur dealers.’

Today I finished reading, for the second time, John Le Carré’s 1974 novel, ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, the first of three works featuring George Smiley, who is possibly as well known in British espionage culture as James Bond, largely on account of the 1979 BBC TV series and the 2011 film starring Gary Oldman.

You could be forgiven for wondering what this has to do with moles. Well, the book features a cast of moles, or spies who work undercover and insinuate themselves into positions of power in other countries. The Cambridge five were KGB moles in the British Intelligence Service of the 50s and 60s. Characters in Le Carré’s novel are inspired by these five Cambridge University men. His story tells of the convoluted lives of such agents. The work is, unlike the 007 tales, actually undramatic. It is superbly crafted, largely through the devices of retrospective conversations and interviews. Even on second reading I had trouble working it all out.

Tinker Tailor ...1Tinker Tailor...2

My Folio Society edition is cleverly illustrated by Tim Laing whose monochrome drawings exhibit obfuscation in keeping with the book’s theme of mistrust and deception.

Tinker Tailor.....cover

Similarly appropriate are the anonymous silhouettes on the front cover.

This evening Jackie produced a well filled mushroom and onion omelette, chips, and baked beans, with which I drank sparkling water.

Going For A Paddle (2)


On another day with us both full of a cold, I scanned the remains colour slides of the Brittany holiday with Ann and Don in September 1982.

Don photographing 9.82

I don’t know where the zoo that we visited was located. Here Don photographs the residents;

Zebra 9.82

maybe this zebra,

Monkey 9.82 1

or a monkey. (I have a much clearer image of this apparently elderly gent, but I have chosen this one for its pensive moodiness.) I am happy to report that our friend’s nose sprang back from its flattening in the cause of art.

Sam 9.82 1Street 9.82

Sam happy strode along the roughly surfaced streets, dappled by sunlight penetrating plane trees,

Sam 9.82 2

and found a little friend in the gloomy interior of a stone workshop.

Sam 9.82 3

Behind him, as he climbs decorative railings is evidence of the respect the French bear for their cemeteries.

Sam 9.82 4

After his exercise he had a snooze.

Woman with handbag wading 9.82 1

On Bréhec Beach, I woman I thought of at the time as elderly clutched her handbag as she went for a paddle. I don’t believe she removed her shoes when

Woman with handbag wading 9.82 2

she ventured further into the water. I can’t remember the name of the now defunct magazine that used this one for its cover.

This evening we dined on fish and chips served with baked beans.

Going For A Paddle


On another summery September day Jackie and I nursed colds indoors whilst Aaron and Sean virtually completed removing the grizelinia hedge. I scanned another couple of dozen colour slides from September 1982. These were from a holiday in Brittany enjoyed with our friends Ann and Don. Here is a selection:

Jessica, Ann,Sam, beach 9.82

The group nearest the centre of this underpopulated beach include Jessica, Ann, and Sam.

Man carrying seaweed 9.82

A gentleman emerged from the sea clutching a cluster of seaweed;

Children on beach 9.82 2

a string of gleeful children danced their way to the ocean;

Woman crossing beach 9.82

 a lone woman passing them traversed the beach.

Jessica, Ann, Sam 9.82 4

Hand in hand, Jessica and Ann led Sam into the water

Jessica, Ann, Sam 9.82 1

and swung him to meet the wavelets.

Ann and Sam 9.82 1

Ann continued the gymnastics

Jessica wading 9.82 2

while Jessica went for a paddle.

Sam and Louisa 9.82

Sam, dried off, and ready for bed, told his sister all about it.

Rusty iron roof 9.82 1

Attached to our rented gite was a shed with a corrugated iron roof

Hydrangea 9.82 1

that blended quite well with the ageing hydrangeas.

This evening we dined on pizza and I drank Doom Bar.

The Playground Bully


On another balmy morning I began a tour of the gardens at the front of the house, where

Fuchsia Delta's SarahFront garden 1Front garden 2

fuchsia Delta’s Sarah blends with the pink Japanese anemones framed by white ones and Michaelmas daisies;


and myrtle


and solanum continue flowering.


Outside the kitchen window, spritely spring poppies emerge alongside ripened sedum,


not far from sprawling autumn crocuses flanked by gauras and geraniums.

Fuchsia 1

This tiny white fuchsia adds variety to the Rose Garden,


and honeysuckle hangs on in there.

View across grass towards house

Pink is a frequently encountered colour.

Bee on dahlia 1

The still prolific dahlias Bishop of Llandaff are a richer red, still attracting the bees in their New Bed playground. This whacking great bee bulldozed a smaller boy from this flower with a thumping thud. (I am indebted to Barrie Haynes for correcting the sex of the bullied bee – it is a girl:

Bee on dahlia 2

He sloped off to another flower. Comparison of the bees against the similarly sized stamens will demonstrate what a big bully we have.

This evening we dined on beefburgers, mashed potato and swede, and cauliflower cheese. I drank Doom Bar.