Saturday, 31 August 2013


I've just returned to London from a holiday in France, and have now doubled my collection of old French paperback novels which have a 'Londres' connection from one to two!
Five years ago I spotted this copy of 'Le Saint a Londres' in a market in the Vendee area for a bargain 50c, and this time round I nabbed an eye-catching secondhand Georges Simenon title in Sarlat for a couple of Euros.
Le Livre de Poche, 1968

Back cover, with credits to Pierre Faucheux / Photo Holmes Lebel 

'The Saint in London' by Leslie Charteris was originally titled 'The Misfortunes of Mr.Teal', when it was first published in book form in 1934. It was most probably re-titled after the successful 1939 US film starring George Sanders as Simon Templar / The Saint.

This French pocket book edition has a gorgeous dayglo pop art cover - and is particularly intriguing because the photo of London's Piccadilly Circus captured in a typically bustling 1960s moment has been printed back-to-front! At the bottom centre, there's the no.14 bus to Hornsey Rise, and just above 'Le Saint' logo is the Circlorama Cinema which opened in 1963 and had about a two year run as a kind of precursor to the IMAX-style cinemas of today. Back then, the audience stood in the centre of the auditorium which was surrounded by, literally, a circle of film screens. Other iconic signs of the time are Coca-Cola , and on the back cover - Double Diamond, Skol and Guinness beers. Note also a truck with an advert for Lyons Swiss Rolls.

L'Homme de Londres by the Belgian writer Georges Simenon was also first published in 1934. It was made into a film in Occupied France in 1943, and sixty four years later the Hungarian film director Bela Tarr revived the story, this time as 'The Man from London'.

The cover is rather unusual, with the authors surname boldly written with glowing turquoise letters. A blatant contrast to the stark photograph of the black dockyard cranes (a symbol of the River Thames, and back then, set to be torn down forever).

Perhaps I'll discover another vintage 'Londres' title in France within the next five years?

another Le Livre de Poche title, this time a 1971 edition

the same photo on the back cover, flipped back to front. Credit: a.a.g / cl. veyrac

Friday, 16 August 2013

Highbury, May 1991

Let's swiftly whizz forward five seasons from yesterday's 'Highbury, August 1985' post. The final match of the Gunners' Championship winning 1990-91 season is over. Just over 41,000 fans packed out Highbury on Saturday 11th May 1991 to watch Arsenal thump Coventry City 6-1. 

The First Division trophy was already in the bag before the game, and I'd brought along my Olympus OM10 35mm camera to record some mementoes of the big day. Of course, the fans were proud to show off their colours - but what's so telling about these pictures, compared to those taken in the same location just 5 years earlier, is how much red and white there is: replica tops were now de rigueur, along with Arsenal scarves, and title-winning souvenir rosettes, hats and T-shirts...

V for Victory

Hey, now that's a ridiculous place to park up a Hot Dog & Burger stand

A cracking view of a jam-packed Avenell Road

Fans look up to the open windows of the players dressing room windows in the East Stand -  hoping to catch sight of their heroes...
...and some of them spot me too!

These joyful Arsenal fans are today twenty two years older. How many of them still go to the matches? And what, they wonder, will Season 2013-14 bring?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Highbury, August 1985

It's just a couple of days to go to the beginning of the new Premier League season, and supporters of the 20 competing teams are preparing for their emotions to be kicked up and down and around the field for yet another year.
So it's definitely appropriate to pull out of their paper wallet, a bunch of photographs that I took on August 24th 1985, with a Kodak Pocket Instamatic camera using 110 cartridge-based film. The match was Arsenal versus Manchester United, in the old First Divison, at the Gunners former ground, Highbury Stadium, Islington, London N5. It was Arsenal's second home match of the 1985-86 season.
These snaps were just taken for a bit of fun, but inevitably almost thirty years on, they have become an intriguing reminder of what our footballing past looked like.

The roasted peanut seller and his hand-sized white paper bags filled with nuts always stood around the stadium's main entrance in Avenell Road
A bright Summer's day on Avenell Road, a punky-looking mum (or is mum in the pink top?), police on horseback, and fans passing an entrance to Highbury's 'Clock End' - which is to the right of the photo

The iconic East Stand in Avenell Road opened in 1936. It's facade is now incorporated into the block of luxury flats that was built on the site of Arsenal's first North London home.
What is so striking about this snapshot of ordinary football fans outside the stadium in 1985 is that not one of them is wearing a replica shirt. In fact there are no scarves, or anything that identifies these fans as Arsenal (or perhaps Man Utd) supporters.

Looking down on the East Stand's lower tier. Note that it was split - with the front half for standing in, while the back half was seated. Again, these fans are wearing clothes that look like they were bought in C&A, rather than these days where expensive replica tops are purchased in the Club Shop.

The Arsenal players emerge from the East Stand's dressing room, and head for the centre circle
8: Ian Allinson, 2: Viv Anderson, 6: Tommy Caton, 4: Steve Williams, 7: Stewart Robson, 1: John Lukic, 3: Kenny Sansom

The players salute the fans, and the TV cameras on the balcony of the West Stand (built in 1932)
The rest of the team that day was 5: David O'Leary, 9: Charlie Nicholas, 10: Tony Woodcock, 11: Graham Rix, and 12: Paul Davis. Only one substitute allowed back then!

For the record, Arsenal lost the match 1-2 , and were to end 7th in Division 1 that season, three places behind United who were 4th.

Tomorrow I will post another set of photos taken at Highbury. This time in Arsenal's Championship winning season of 1990-91. It will be fascinating to see what a difference five years will have on football fans fashions...

Monday, 12 August 2013

Pedestrian Crossings: CROSS

And following yesterday's red light WAIT post, now for a parade of little green people all snapped by myself in mostly forgotten locations in France and Germany back in the mid-1980s:
Pedestrian Crossings: CROSS

This Parisian avenue was re-named after Hugo on 28 February 1881 (the day after his 79th birthday)

don't walk, run

rhythmic pairs crossing

hold on to your briefcase

cross to a rock steady beat

startled 1950s orange man on route to nuclear shelter

my favourite! dig those groovy loon pants and floppy sleeves
When I took the photograph, I wondered whether this crossing was in fact some kind of special time travelling device, and the elderly couple would somehow turn into a pair of swinging hipsters c.1969 when they crossed to the other side?

A New Additon:
GO! state of the art: Blois, France, 29/08/13

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Pedestrian Crossings: WAIT

It's Summer holidays time, and I've dug deep into my early street photography archive and have discovered a nice selection of 'Pedestrian Crossing' photos that I took during holiday trips in France and Germany during the mid-1980s. Unfortunately I didn't keep a record of the exact locations, as I was mostly after the images of the signs, with an unexpectedly wide range of illuminated crossing people.
Today I'll begin with the red WAIT ones:
my jolly red giant

keep hands in pockets

gents in trilby hats must not cross road

don't stand in the road

minimal red

twins must wait

stop and count the dots

In the UK, these type of pedestrian crossings were originally given the name 'X-Way' - as in 'crossway', just like 'motorway' or 'subway'. The 'X' or 'Cross' was exactly what the driver could do when an illuminated white cross was showing on the signal. A red circular light meant 'stop - pedestrians crossing', amber was 'stop - unlesss unsafe to do so', and flashing amber was 'give way as pedestrians have priority'.

As for the pedestrian: the red figure - 'Wait, drivers have priority', the green figure - 'Cross, vehicles are stopped', and the flashing green figure - 'Give Way - pedestrians have priority'.

The new 'X-Way' was launched in 1967 by the Mayor of Lincoln, in the City of Lincoln's very own High Street. The following day the Sheffield Morning Telegraph reported:

"In time local motorists will understand them, but strangers from places where they are not in operation will be utterly confused".

the latest addition to the collection: Blois, France 29th August 2013