Thursday 20 October 2016

A Voice In The Dark

Treey asked me yesterday why I haven't blogged for a while.

There is no single answer for that.

It's a combination of things I guess.  Lack of time is one of them and lack of inspiration is another.

Is not that I don't have anything to say, plenty of things happen on a daily basis that I could write about but I guess I'm just going through an inspiration lull.  It happens, it will pass, I'm not too worried about it.

Last night there was a bit of a commotion outside.  This is happening on a more and more regular basis.

The focus is a block of flats behind the flats opposite my house.

The flats opposite my house are well maintained and mostly privately owned, there is rarely any kind of trouble or noise from them.

The other block of flats lead towards the town at a right angle to these flats forming an L shape.  These flats are council owned.  They were built in the 60s and they are fairly run down.  There has been talk over the years of pulling them down and replacing them with new housing.  They could be nice flats.  They are in a great position and near to the town.  They are a good size, so much bigger than modern boxes with well proportioned rooms, big windows and balconies.  Put them alongside the river of canal and they would be seen as premium housing!

These flats are seen to house what some people may call 'the dregs of society'.

Those aren't my words or beliefs.

It's true to say there are people living there with drink and drug habits.  It is also true to say that there is a high level of unemployment within that community.  It can't be denied that there are people who live there who do not envisage any other way of life for themselves.

It would also be true to say that there are people living there who are none of those things and are just victims of their own situation.

It can't be a pleasant place to live.  If I can hear the commotion from my house how much worse must it be to have it going on outside your door?

Sometimes the altercations are very loud, they sound violent, the police are called.

Sometimes, like last night, it's a single voice of a seemingly desperate person.

I don't know the details of last nights commotion.  I could hear a girl crying and shouting.  I suspect a man was involved (although I couldn't hear clearly).  I think she was outside trying to make him hear, to get a reaction.

I wanted to tell her to STOP!!!

To walk away.  To forget he existed (if it was indeed about a HE).

To move on, to build a better life, to be the only person she needed with anyone else only adding to her life rather than being dependent on them.

I wanted to shake her and ask her what it was she thought all the shouting and crying was going to achieve.

Was it going to make everything alright?  Was it going to fundamentally change whatever was going on?  Was it going to make life good and happy?

No - it wasn't.

I don't know her, I don't know what it was about, I'm not really in any position to judge or even have a view but I do.

I probably haven't been in her position but I do know what it's like to feel as desperate as she sounded.

I also know that if someone is capable of making you feel that desperate then you have to walk away from them.

I know that they will keep you in that place until you loose sight of yourself and that feeling of desperation will always stay with you.

I wish I could show her that what she thinks she wants is just a facade, it's not real, there is so much more out there and, even if there isn't then it's better to be on your own.

I wanted to tell her to start living her own life - to start OWNING her own life.

I wanted to tell her that there was another way.

I could be so wrong about what was going on last night but i wasn't wrong about that desperation.

I hope she sees a way out of whatever situation she is in and I really hope she finds ways of being happy.

Wednesday 5 October 2016

The Curious Case Of Miss Gabrielle Ray

Monday was bin day in the Mac household.  The wheelie bin is only emptied once a fortnight while the recycling is taken on a weekly basis.

I pulled the bin from it's position in the small area to the front of my house (not for me the long haul down the drive Val) and on to the pavement outside the gate.

I noticed a piece of paper on the ground where the bin had been.  As I picked it up I realised that it wasn't a piece of paper after all but a postcard.

A very old postcard...

So I took it into the house to look at it more closely.

On the front was the picture of a lady wearing a large hat with flowers in her hair.  The style was early 19th century and the name on the front was Miss Gabrielle Ray.

On the back was some writing:  "Mr Richard Jolly on his 30th birthday" and, under that, "P.S. Ray is only a stage name of mine".  The postmark is April 23 05.  At fist I assumed that the card had been posted in 2005 but, on closer inspection, it was clear that the stamp was much older than this and it could possibly have been posted in 1905 which means that it could actually have been written by Ray herself.

I was curious so I did a little digging.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about her:

Gabrielle Ray (28 April 1883 - 21 May 1973), was an English stage actress, dancer and singer, best known for her roles in Edwardian musical comedies.
Ray was considered one of the most beautiful actresses on the London stage and became one of the most photographed women in the world. In the first decade of the 20th century, she had a good career in musical theatre. After an unsuccessful marriage, however, she never recovered the fame that she had enjoyed. She spent many of her later years in mental hospitals.

From there I went on to find a few blogs dedicated to her life, her career and her postcards.  It's be fascinating finding out a little more about her.

There are a few things about the card which throw a little doubt on it's authenticity.

The writing is on the right hand side where the address should be.  It also appears to be a label possibly stuck over the original text.

It's hard to tell but there may have been writing on both sides of the card at one point but it's so faded and damaged that you really can't tell.

The postmark ...  COULD it be 1905??  I'm not sure.  Did they even use postmarks like this at that time?  Again, I don't know.

The stamp I know IS original and the postmark is where you would expect it to be (partly covering the stamp) so it must have been stamped in a genuine post office - would anyone actually go into a post office and ask them to stamp an old postcard?  Seems unlikely.

The card itself isn't worth anything (and yes, if you were wondering, if I discovered it was worth thousands then I WOULD sell it!) as many thousands of these cards were produced and even if it did turn out to have been written by her (and there is probably no way to find out) then it would still only be worth a few pounds.

But it is intriguing so I will see if I can find out who Richard Jolly is/was and if he (or his family) would like to have the card back.

Of course I can't assume that he was local.  Anyone could have picked this card up at a card fair and there could be any number of reasons why it ended up under my bin.

I like a bit of mystery though so until and unless I discover any further information I shall keep it in my cabinet and look at it from time time.

Monday 3 October 2016

Make Mine A Pint!

Because seriously, who only wants half a Beer especially when it looks like THIS:

Ok, so I'm not really talking about the stuff made from hops - I'm talking about this picture-postcard village just along the coast from Lyme Regis in Devon.

The name Beer isn't actually derived from the drink either, it's named from the old Anglo Saxon word "bearu" meaning grove which referred to the forest that surrounded the original settlement.

You wouldn't have believed that it was the beginning of October yesterday.  The sky was blue with barely a cloud, the sun shone and it was just a BEAUTIFUL day.

See what I mean?

As you can see, this isn't a sandy beach it's actually shingle and pebbles which can make it quite hard to walk on but at Beer they have an ingenious solution to this problem:

You see those strips on the ground between the boats? Well, they are actually rubber mats laid over the shingle.   The top of the beach has more of these creating walkways leading to some lovely little seafront cafes and making them accessible to everyone even wheelchair users.  I'm sure that initially they were used by fishermen to enable them to more easily access their boats  but they have been adapted to benefit everyone.

Only part of the beach has these mats, there is still plenty of unadulterated beach to wander along:

Boats to have your photo taken next to

Rocks to sit on and look enigmatically out to sea

Or even stand on (they are VERY versatile ;-) )

Beer has a long fishing heritage which  is still very much alive today as you can see from the photos of the boats above and fresh fish and Beer crab is for sale right on the seafront.

In the past Beer was equally well known as a smuggling base and the home of notorious Devon smuggler, Jack Rattenbury. It was also famous for fine lace including the lace flounce for Queen Victoria's wedding dress crafted in Beer by Miss Jane Bidney and her team of 200 workers.

Beer is also full of pretty buildings and cottages which, even in October had gardens and hanging baskets bursting with colour.

A stream runs down the side of the main street to the sea with planters full of flowers bridging it at regular intervals

We really did pick the perfect day to spend in Beer.  In summer it can become a little overcrowded but yesterday, although there were plenty of people still around it didn't feel at all like that and yet it was as warm as any day in August.

Beer certainly is a shining jewel in Devon's crown.