Saturday, 26 March 2011


According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online, for the March 2011 release of OED Online, it says it "selected for publication a number of noteworthy initialisms—abbreviations consisting of the initial letters of a name or expression. Some of these—such as OMG [OMG int. (and n.) and adj.]: ‘Oh my God’ (or sometimes ‘gosh’, ‘goodness’, etc.) and LOL [LOL int. and n./2]: ‘laughing out loud’—are strongly associated with the language of electronic communications (email, texting, social networks, blogs, and so on). They join other entries of this sort: IMHO (‘in my humble opinion’) [IMHO at I n./1], TMI (‘too much information’) [TMI at T n.], and BFF (‘best friends forever’) [BFF at B n.], among others.

Of course in such a context initialisms are quicker to type than the full forms, and (in the case of text messages, or Twitter, for example) they help to say more in media where there is a limit to a number of characters one may use in a single message. OMG and LOL are found outside of electronic contexts, however; in print, and even in spoken use (see, for example, the 2003 quotation for LOL int.), where there often seems to be a bit more than simple abbreviation going on. The intention is usually to signal an informal, gossipy mode of expression, and perhaps parody the level of unreflective enthusiasm or overstatement that can sometimes appear in online discourse, while at the same time marking oneself as an ‘insider’ au fait with the forms of expression associated with the latest technology.
As such usage indicates, many people would consider these recent coinages, from the last 10 or 20 years, and associate them with a younger generation conversant with all forms of digital communications. As is often the case, OED’s research has revealed some unexpected historical perspectives: our first quotation for OMG is from a personal letter from 1917; the letters LOL had a previous life, starting in 1960, denoting an elderly woman (or ‘little old lady’; see LOL n./1); and the entry for FYI [FYI phr., adj., and n.], for example, shows it originated in the language of memoranda in 1941."

Friday, 25 March 2011

Group Portraits

I thought I would share a trio of group portraits with you. I rather like them. I wish I had images like these in my family photograph albums!

Four sisters are persuaded to stand still long enough to capture this delightful portrait.
The girl on the left is determined not to let go of her hoop!

The slimey seaweed hasn't put this family off. Note the rather dated swimsuits.
The poor boy on the left looks fed up with so much female company!
Now these look a happy bunch. I wonder what is in the jug. Cider?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Confirmation Photographs

Confirmation is a big event in one's Christian life. Here are a small selection of studio portraits of young girls in their confirmation dresses taken around 1910 and scanned from glass plate negatives.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Military Pet Cemetery

I once spent a couple of weeks on assignment at Fort Lewis, Washington. The fort remains one of the largest military bases on American soil. On a rare afternoon off, I discovered the pet cemetery. A peaceful setting for these members of military families. Some of the more modern graves [see the last image] were made from wood and had the details burned on. Unvarnished, I wonder how long they lasted. Taffy, whose grave is pictured below, certainly did a few tours of duty with the McGrew family. I wonder where the family is now?


Friday, 18 March 2011

St Hilaire Cyclist is first past the Post!

And, of course, in those days when you won the local cycle race, you were whipped off to the photographers studio to have your portrait taken. Here, Henri Petit of St Hilaire who won the race by 15 minutes poses with his bike. I note his bicycle only had one brake.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Sad End for Small Creatures revisited

After publishing yesterday's post about the dead moles hung on a fence, I had a bit of a disturbed night thinking about the circumstances of this occurence. Today, I made the decision to revisit the site with a different camera. I had a number of reasons for doing this.

I kept thinking about the person who hung the moles on the barbed wire and what he or she was thinking about as each was impaled. I could have found myself stood behind them in a supermarket queue and have absolutely no idea what their day job was.

I don't know why, but having reported from Bosnia and Sarajevo in the past when ethnic cleansing was at its peak and life was considered cheap, I couldn't help thinking about some of the more terrible events of the Second World War . . . when the life of some was thought of as worthless.

Revisiting, also provided a chance to get a rare closer looker at some of the physical characteristics of this small, disliked creature. The powerful front claws that moved the earth so easily as it moved underground, the smaller back feet and the pointed sensitive nose that helps notoriously badly-sighted mole find its prey - the earth worm!

Here, then, are more images that I think capture something of what I have just been writing about. The latter shots make me think of abandoned glove puppets . . .

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Sad End for Small Creatures

As I drove home yesterday, I caught a glimpse of something at the side of the road. I knew at once what it was but hadn't seen such a thing for many years. I don't like it but felt I should record it. What, you might ask? Well, it is the practice of the mole catcher hanging dead moles on a fence to demonstrate the job has been done. Vermin or not, it seems an unhealthy practice to me. What do you think?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Buzzing in my Ears!

Once when I was a child, I saw wasps flying in and out of a small hole in the ground in a wood. Like an idiot, I picked a stone and dropped it on the hole. Quick as a flash, several wasps flew to my my bare leg and stung me. I cried a lot because it hurt so much. For years afterwards, well into adulthood, I would tend to run around in panic and wave my arms about if a wasp came near me. This tended to antagonise them and I would be singled out for attention. Onlookers would think I had gone insane. I don't blame them for thinking that. Then one day, a friend showed me how to pick up a wasp that had settled on my scone as I ate it in the garden. I tended to relax more in future although the sight and sound of a swarm strikes fear in my heart. Imagine my feelings when I put a glass plate negative into my scanner and it produced this image. Spare a thought for the brave photographer whose camera would have been mounted on a tripod and, after inserting a glass plate, pulled the black cloth over his head and took the cap of the lenses to record this shot. I don't think I could have done it. What creatures frighten you?

There is a religious feel to this image. It  reminds me of the crux ordinaria or latin cross

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Another French Mystery!

Two more images taken from the large collection of glass plate negatives. I like them very much but am baffled by what they represent. Do any of my French experts have any idea what is going on, please? Taken about 1910, they obviously represent their respective communes, La Selle sur-Le-Beid and St Hilaire les Andresis, but why are they doing it? So far, I have thought of Trade Unions, maybe or a representation of a call to arms? Maybe there is still a festival in France where people do this, still? I would love to know! Thank you. [I have looked again at the photograph below. There is a Republic of France logo in each corner of the flag. Could the woman pictured on the banner be Joan of Arc? Certainly not, Marie Antoinette - unless of course you know otherwise?] [I now wonder if this could be Fete du Travail - Labour Day?]
Commune la Selled sur-Le-Beid (current population 921)
St Hilaire les Andresis (current population 863)

Friday, 11 March 2011

A Mystery of the Grande Guerre

The day before yesterday, the postman staggered up the steps to the house to deliver two very large parcels. Smothered with 'fragile' stickers, they contained dozens of glass plate negatives that show life in, I believe, the Loiret, France between 1910 and 1920. There are some staggering images of townsfolk in costume for some sort of festival, a collection of fascinating full length portraits of young girls in their first Communion dresses - more about these in later posts.

There are also a large number of full-length portraits of soldiers of the Grande Guerre (Great War) dated 1915. I share three of these here:

What I noticed from the individual portraits was that uniforms were very ill-fitting. While I am an expert in British military uniform, I have little knowledge of French uniforms. The first image is causing me some angst. Are these soldiers or young men posing as soldiers? Most of them look quite young, especially the Sergeant  behind the priest. Indeed, the priest looks very young, too. Could this be a post war shot of youths wearing their father's uniforms for some sort of re-enactment? The bearded man, front left, is remarkable in having such young, smooth facial skin. Let me know what you think, please?

Here are two soldiers playing cards with a group of women. If the women weren't quite so mature, I would imagine it to have be taken to be the subject of a souvenir postcard. Any ideas?

This image is sadder. Dated 1920, it shows a veteran who makes wooden souvenirs from what I take to be a nearby battlefield. It reads Souvenir de ma campagne du bois de valamoy 1915 - 1916, but when I put the details in Google there was nothing that matched. Note the names and inscriptions carved in the wood of the souvenirs.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A Curious Grouping!

The more I look at this print taken from a glass plate negative, the more I am intrigued. It is a rural scene, perhaps a farmhouse? What I take to be a father and son are seated with a scruffy little dog sat on a knee. I find it slightly sinister to see that the two women are not looking directly at the camera. Their poses mirror each other with their eyes downcast. Why on earth would they do that. Click twice on the image and you can see clearly that the woman on the left is slyly looking towards the photographer. They could be twins, but the woman on the left looks much older. The photograph was taken in about 1905 in England. Are they members of a cult, or an extreme religious faith? What do you think?

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

On the Beach

Pipe in mouth, rod in hand. What could be better for the Edwardian Angler? I am impressed by his outfit, including his boots. I can see he is fishing as the line is visible and taut. Unless, of course, his man servant is pulling on the fishing line, just out of shot? Not many people about, I notice. Where did he get that hat?

Posing for a Treat!

Even in 1905, it could be hard being a pet. This Jack Russell terrier had to perform for its owners, sitting up and begging on a large wooden barrell. What an indignity this is, it is probably thinking to itself. But being good-natured, it accepts its lot. So if he was, say, five years old and alive today, he would be 110 years old today. But with each dog year being worth seven of a human's, he would be 770!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Colourful Glimpse of the Past!

Captured: American in Colour from 1939 to 1943

I found a link to these photographs that were published in the Denver Post last year and thought you might enjoy viewing them. I find them remarkable. Click HERE to view. How different history looks in full colour. Amazing!

These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. The photographs and captions are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Man in the Tree!

After driving the same route for five months, I thought I had noticed everything. But, last night as I slowed for a bend, I had a real surprise. On a tree by the side of the road, there was a face! This afternoon, I stopped and photographed it. What a find!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

What's in a Sign?

As I drove home the night before last, I saw a sign that caused me to stop my car and take a photograph. It's funny. When I am sub-editing at work I always look out for other meanings for words and phrases. This certainly caught my attention. I know people hang pheasants for a couple of weeks to ensure the meat is high. What I hadn't appreciated is that beef is sometimes treated similarly. I am still thinking about the first image that came into my mind when I read this sign. Phew! The mind boggles.

Then I remembered a sign I had seen a few months ago. It's funny how you can read meanings differently. When I first passed this, I read it as 'Children Playing Dead - Slow'. I then pondered why children were playing dead - must be some sort of game, I thought. Next time I passed by, I read it as 'Children Playing Dead Slow' and wondered what sort of game was played in slow motion! What signs have caught your attention?