Thursday, 28 February 2013

Sepia Saturday 166

This week's theme is very handy for my Tales from the Shoebox.  Glendower's Bard appears immediately before this contribution to Saturday Sepia, and it is hoped to make this a regular feature between SS postings.  This piece is concluded with a tale from the other shoebox, the difference between the boxes being that the other one actually contains tales relating to real events suitably embellished to lift the participants to heroic status.
Box Making, ancient yet modern craft or manufacturing process, creating valuable artwork or cheap utilitarian container.  They come in all shapes and sizes and can be made of many materials from gold to wood or plain paper.  The common factor is that they are designed to hold something; sometimes securely and sometimes just in one place.  They can hold the smallest thing, the most precious and valueless and in the finality, us as we pass from being to our final destination in the cold earth or the fire.

Shaker Box Maker using traditional methods

A modern box making machine

Box maker in Ghana making boxes to suit the whims of the departed on the route to the exit

Off the Shelf 

Perhaps as Art

A Tale from the Other Shoe Box

Getting on to coffins reminded me of a story of when I was a youngster, or was it the story that led me the Box of the inevitable end.  This story, I'm afraid, does not have any pictures, but it did actually happen.

I was out one evening with some mates, we were about 14 or 15, and as it was dark it must have been in the late Autumn or Winter.  Just for amusement we decided to play Knock Down Ginger, a game where you knock on someone's door and hide so they can't see you.  We chose the door of another mate, his father was a little Connemara man, an ex jockey, barely five foot two.  Up the passageway knock knock, back out the gate and down the road we ran,  we were half way down the road by the time he reached the gate.  I've never known a man with short legs, and in stocking feet, run so fast.  At the end of the road he was close behind, his socks hanging nine inches over the end of his toes. Two of us veered left and the other shot to the right, little John followed the horde.  Not knowing this we jumped over the wall of the house at the end of the road and into the garage to hide.  The house was that of the undertaker, and we found ourselves amongst the coffins.  I don't think any were occupied, but we didn't look.  My poor old mate had had a traditional Irish Catholic upbringing, and was shaking with fear.  He had his rosary  in his hand and was chanting gibberishly.  I was glad of my Chapel  raising for fear of the after life, in spite of the Hell Fire sermons of a German pastor, was not a feature.

My poor mate got some stick.  My big mouth inadvertently let out the story of his necklace (as the rosary became in the telling)  and that took some living down.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tales from the Shoe Box

Glendower's Bard or a Right Royal Tale

Aelwyn Llewelyn ap Pritchard-Madocs is widely believed to be the model for Dylan Thomas's Reverent Ely Jenkins, preacher and poet in his play for voices "Under Milk Wood".

The Pritchard-Madocses were said to be one of the oldest families in Wales, and to represent the kingly and spiritual Celtic heart of the nation. .  They claimed a direct descendent from Taliesin and through him Druidic Bards of the Grove of the Golden Oak.  It is said that their ancestor was one Madoc ap Madoc, illigetimate son of  Madog ap Owain Gwynedd (legendary finder of North America in 1170), who was elect to the Bardic Seat, aged 7, at the Cardigan Eisteddfod held by Rhys ap Gruffydd in 1176.

By the time Aelwyn was born the family was in decline and had been for some time..  It appears that they were reduced to earning a living by telling tales of their ancestry in Taverns and Ales Houses.  As Thomas has Ely Jenkins say, Aelwyn's own Father was, " die of Drink and agriculture".  As far as can be gathered Garonwy Llewelyn ap Pritchard-Madocs had started to restore the families fortunes and become an itinerant preacher in the ranting style of the Primitives.  However, these were again to suffer traumatically when Aelwyn was 12 or so.  Garonwy, had long suppressed his twin weaknessess and kept them hidden under his sermons against fornication and alcohol.  All was to be exposed and revealed on the very day that the first mechanical reaper was introduced to Welsh corn.  Goronwy was lustily engaged with, Edith Plumbody,  the Landlady of the Snake's Foot Inn, and as they lay coupled in passion, the mechanical reaper  was set forth on it's maiden voyage.  The Coroner's Report states, "... that Garonwy died instantly from having the back of his head sliced from his face and his legs removed by a slice through his buttocks...."   Poor Edith survived the attack by modern farming methods.  Her hands were merely removed at the wrists and her legs from both beneath and above the knees, and she spent the rest of her life - armless and legless in the asylum.

Mrs. Llewelyn ap Pritchard-Madocs endured the opprobrium by turning to gin and crying incessantly.  It seems that she largely disappeared from Aelwyn's life.  He took to wandering, and, perhaps, wondering.  Not much is known of him as a young man, there is no record of him until he is in his mid thirties when the Dolgellau Dribbler reported that a man had been brought down from Cadir Adris after spending 40 days and 40 nights on the mountain.  The great excitement was due to the local legend that said, ".. that any man spending on night on the seat of Adris would either be struck dead or blind, or come down a mad man or a poet..."  Aelwyn had spent, so the paper reported, 40 nights amongst the ghosts of the ancients and as it speculated on his future, they encouraged their readers to do likewise.  

Aelwyn was never heard to mention that period or the Mountain  but after a short period of preaching as an itinerant he was ordained and his sermons became more poetical than scriptural.  Even though he became known as Glendower's Bard and was invited to every Eisteddfod he seldom left the tranquillity of the village to which he was the incumbent.  To hear a recital one had wait at either daybreak or nightfall when he was given read allowed to the trees and the hills that surrounded his living.  It is rumoured, al most in hushed terms, that on a summers' eve or morn when the air is still, heavy and quiet, you may hear softly humming and muttering his songs as he engages with ghosts of the ancients.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sepia Saturday 165

There has been definite upswelling of concern about the sorrowful condition of the unknown and lost image. I've noticed an increasing number of blogs being given over to the discovering, cataloguing and researching the lost image and that various SS contributors have gone for the unknown theme.  As modern, caring, sophisticates we have the duty to do what we can to see that lost images are brought in from the cold and dark of their non-existence and are re-united with a family.  And to this end, in the true Burnettian manner so admirably displayed by our leader and mentor and my namesake, it is my intention expose them to their lives so that they are no longer unknown, no longer lost and can be re-united with a family.

I see that Alan has introduced you to Auntie Dorothy and Uncle Hopalong, if more people begin to re-introduce the lost to the modern world, it may be necessary to introduce a version of the "Will Ritson" trophy.

Aunt Felicity and Uncle Benji Bones

Great Aunt Felicity was known as Flower. She was mother of 12, fish gutter and Landlady of the celebrated Gurnard's Arms, and before moving south and marrying Benji Bones, Hooker for the Hebden Bridge Rugby League Football Team until it was discovered she was a female.  It is widely believed that after her exposure, and overcome with embarrassment and rage, she ran away from home with the intent of doing away with herself.  She kept running  and running, across field and across vale, up hill and down dale, through moor and through mire, from fell to down until eventually she reached the Dorsetshire coast and the sea.  With nowhere left to run, she collapsed in exhaustion and tears and vowed to immediately end it all by throwing herself in the sea. Unfortunately for Benji, just  as she hurled her self from the top of Durdell Door and into the raging foam, he happened by.  With an almighty thud that almost capsized his boat she landed amongst his nets, pots and mackerel bait.  There she lay, akimbo, prostrate in football boots, hooped socks and saggy shorts.  Benji thought it was mermaid, he was smit..  

They were wed and their first child Harmonious was born 9 months to the day.  And for the next 7 years it became an annual event, except for one year when Janus was born in the January and Octavia in the December.  The last three, the triplets were born some fifteen years later and came as a surprise.  It was said, that it happened the night of the very day that Hamonious brought home  his first girl-friend .  It was never made clear whether it was Benji or Flower that driven to arousal by the young maid.  Whoever, the triplets arrived before the years was out.

Benjiman Bones was a man of indeterminate age.  No one was sure when he was born.  His mother claimed not to know when or how he was born, or who his father was .  Benji, himself neither knew his birth-date or place of birth.  All he would say is that he was born at a very young age.  Even though he had had some education and could read and write in three languages, besides Latin and Ancient Greek, he chose to make his mark when dealing with authority.  He was a sometime fisherman, sometime smuggler and sometime Fossil Hunter along the Jurassic coast.  Mainly, however, he was the resident character and story teller in Flower's establishment who's function was to keep her pregnant and to promote her bounty and hospitality. 

With each pregnancy, Flowers reputation grew and so too that of the Gurnard's Arms.  As the patrons of the Gurnard increased so too did Benji's tales and as the tales grew so did demand for him to tell them.  The back parlour was Benji's domain.  His chair in the corner was his lectern, his pulpit, his stage  As demand grew  the back parlour was extended, then extended again, and again until the back wall was washed by the tide.  It is said that this success was the undoing of Benji and Flower and of the Bones.  Benji and Flower were invited to London by Queen Victoria and Disreali to speak at the newly opened Albert Hall.  On the night before they were due to go, the Gurnard had a record attendance to hear about the impending trip.  The whole family were there, all of them from Harmonious to the triplets,  dignitaries from Dorsetshire, and Hampshire, and from Devonshire were all assembled in the, now very large, back parlour when a raging storm blew in from the sea and caused a massive landslide the swept away the Gurnard's Arms  and all inside.

A few more lost, cold and lonely images lay in my shoebox and perhaps I may be able to introduce them to anew family and a new existence.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Sepia Saturday 164

This week's theme almost confronted one with too much choice.  My initial inclination was to go for Tortoise and turtles.  No too obvious.  Caps, Cap Badges, Pipes, Watches all considered and rejected in the pursuit of something hidden in the image.  In an effort to find the different I even considered his ears and finger nails.As nothing came to mind, in the end I turned back to the obvious and decided on the most apparent,  Regimental Mascots

Fusiliers and  Mascot Bobby an Indian Black Buck

Bandsman Jimmy Durham at Aldershot Barracks 1904 with Regimental Mascot

Yorkshire Regiment and Ferret Mascot

6th. in France in 1916 with the Regimental Goat

French Vietnam Forces Mascot going for the ahhh Factor

Leitrim Boy aged 9 in 1916 at the Irish Guards' Waterford Barracks

The only evidence of a regimental mascot in the South Wales Borderers is to be found in pictures of these two wildebeest brought back from South Africa after the Boer War by the 2nd Battalion. 

Sherwood Foresters (Nottingham & Derbyshire Regiment) and  Private Derby

Spanish American War 69th Regimental mascot
Royal Welsh Regimental Mascot and Goat Major

First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), which was established by Lord Kitchener, in 1907. 

Boer Commando with their Mascot - an Armed

Wisconsin Volunteers with Mascot Old Abe

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Sepia Saturday 163

A Big Thank You To Bob

After a careful look at this week's theme image I decided to go with white whiskers of the old gent with the snow shovel.  However, Bob Scotney's John George Brown's painting eventually lead to a change of approach, if not theme.     The subject is clearly 19th. century, but the concept seems quite modern or, perhaps timeless. I was particularly taken with the painting and, therefore, decided to look him up. Whilst, he is mainly known for his paintings of street urchins, he also painted grown-up and, lo and behold, white whiskers.  I know they're not Sepia nor Photos, so I've included some white whiskers of the family.

 Great Great Granddad - William - Blacksmith
 Great Granddad - Robert - Blacksmith
 Granddad - William - Blacksmith
Himself  -  Blogger

Below appear the white whiskers of the brush of John George Brown;
Happy Cobbler 
 Lecher Leers?
 Grandpa Bores Grandson
 At Rest
 Carpenter Nearly Done
Wistful Workman
 Old Gent 
Three Old Gents.

And, to show balance
 White Haired Old Woman