Friday, 31 October 2008

Early Jo

A couple of my favourite ‘early’ photos of Jo, taken at Skelwith Bridge in the Lake District when we had a week-end there in February 1986. I say ‘early’. because there were, no doubt, photos of Jo before that but I wasn’t around to take them. I do not use 'early' in the dictionary sense of 'before the usual or expected time'. Such a use would not fit well with her personality!


I’ve been scanning in a load of photos from our albums for Jo’s photo frame. And now GB has given me a photo frame as well so the incentive is doubled.
This is a photo from our first album which began a year after I had left Formby and set up home in a modern flat in Croxteth. It shows my regional group from AMDP (Advanced Management Development Programme) 16 at Wast Hills near Kings Norton, Birmingham. AMDP was a brilliant experience – designed for up and coming local government officers – and I learned a lot; not just about management but about myself.
This photo was taken on Burns Night 1986 and reminds me of an event that took place a week later. Jo and I had just started going out and Jo had decided to borrow the flat key and cook me a meal upon my return from Birmingham. Unfortunately she didn’t know me that well in those days and timed the meal for when I said I would arrive. I was, of course, early. Normally that wouldn’t matter but she had intended to produce ‘all her own work’ (at least initially) so as to impress me. Sadly, I arrived before all the Marks and Spencer instant meal packets had been put into the bin! It took a while for her to forgive me.... In fact, I’m not sure she’s ever forgiven the fact that I’m always early.
The folk in the photo are Jeff Brown, Mike Robinson, CJE, John Keeley, Alan Peake and Dave Davison. Jeff and I still swap Christmas cards with news (at least news on his part, I’ve been very poor at sending mine the last few years)..

Monday, 13 October 2008

Morris Thomspon Edwards

Dad died seven years ago today. In many ways it was a release. At the age of 93 he was physically unable to do too much for himself and mentally he had been unhappy for a few years. A man used to being always active he became too weak to do very much over the last couple of years. This, and his diminishing eyesight, made him fretful.

As a result I tend not to think of him as he was during those last few years, or as he would be now (100!) but as he was during the 1960s and ‘70s – pipe in mouth, and either sitting with the Liverpool Echo in his hands or walking in the Lake District.

And that, I am sure, is also how he would wish to be remembered.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Old Photos

Around the end of the Nineteenth / beginning of the Twentieth century it was far more likely that you would have a studio photo of yourself than a family snap. Family owned cameras were abnormal and consequently shots like those of Dad’s Dad and Mum outside their Larkhill Lane Police Station around 1907 were fairly unusual.

Studios flourished wherever people of society lived and in holiday spots all over the country. Studios used different backgrounds and techniques for making their photos unique and they would provide photos for display, for cartes-de-visites and for lockets.

A standard set of studio props was a table, books and a fancy chair. This is my Great, Great Grandfather, James Spencer, Great Great Grandma Coombes first husband.

Some photographers risked the British weather and offered a service at scenic beauty spots when the sun was shining. This is my Great, Great Grandma Coombes, Great Grandma Spencer and two of Nana’s siblings – Uncle Wardie (looking thoroughly fed up) and Auntie Maude. I suspect the beauty spot is Swallow Falls near Bettws-y-Coed.

This one is of THS (Thomas Henry Spencer) Nana’s eldest brother, about to depart to sea, and has been framed accordingly.

This is also of THS – at two different ages, put onto stamp-like mounts.

Of all the ones I have seen this has to be the strangest. It is Auntie Annie Shemmonds – Nana’s Mum’s sister. I think the effect makes her look like a one woman witches’ coven! Presumably it was what she asked for!

Friday, 3 October 2008


This is one of my favourite photos of Mum. I took it in 1968 when she was 58 – the same age as I am now!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

David H Jones

This is David Henry Jones – Dad’s Mum’s Dad’s brother. i.e. my Great, Great Uncle. The picture was taken in 1917 and the back of the post card simply says “I am at Bristol, David H Jones”. Were it not for his age one would have been tempted to think he was returning on a troopship from the Continent.

The only thing I know about this character is that he lived on the North Wales coast, somewhere near Rhyl, whence he had retired from the quarries of the Bettws-y-Coed area. Dad told me story of visiting him on one occasion and helping him with the purchase of his house. Dad was not a great one for paperwork but it seems he didn’t need to be. They didn’t bother with lawyers and the like and Uncle David paid for his bungalow by handing over a big bag of gold sovereigns. Ah, those were the days!