Postcards Of The 1960s: The Photos Of John Hinde

The postcards were produced in the 1960s by photographer John Hinde, a key figure in the development of the colour photograph as a postcard. Each photograph is innovative in its use of colour and stage-management. Shot with large format cameras, the production of these photographs was an extraordinary undertaking. Sometimes photographs could take a day and a half to get right. He used vibrant, highly saturated colours to depict a proverbially beautiful image produced to the highest standards.

It wasn’t just postcards of London that he produced. John Hinde was born in Somerset in 1916 and had always been interested in photography. During the 1940s he took photographs for many series of books, including ‘Britain in Pictures’ and ‘Garden in Colour’ and famously he photographed London during the blitz, which were used to illustrate ‘Citizens in war – and after’ published in 1945. After a short stint in Chipperfield’s Circus, and failing to make a success on his own, he started John Hinde Ltd in Ireland in 1956.

During the following 16 years, he and his studio of photographers travelled Great Britain, Ireland, and many European and African countries taking photographs to produce as postcards. When the company was sold in 1972, it was the world’s most successful postcard company with annual sales of over 50 million postcards.

All images are from John Hinde/John Hinde Collection/John Hinde Ltd)

The Bathing Pool at Ramsgate. A popular seaside holiday town in Kent.

Bottons Funfair, Great Yarmouth. A holiday town on the east coast, not far from Beetley.

Dublin Airport, Ireland. (Yes, people bought postcards of airports. Air travel was something exciting then.)

Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire. Created in the grounds of an ancestral stately home, this became a very popular attraction that still exists today.

Cars racing on a beach in Jersey. The Channel Islands have long been a popular tourist destination for British people.

Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland.

A caravan park in Pentewan Sands, Cornwall. I spent all my childhood holidays in Cornwall, and the county is still popular with holidaymakers today.

The Royal Festival Hall, South bank, London.

The Post Office Tower, London. This opened in 1965, and once had a revolving restaurant at the top. I took my first wife there for a birthday meal in the 1970s.

The Houses of Parliament at night, London.

A policeman on traffic duty.

Battersea Park Funfair, South London. (Now closed.)

The open-air paddling pool at Battersea park.

Behind Closed Doors

I recently came across this article. It is very long, and very upsetting to read.

**Be warned**
This is very disturbing, and contains many ‘triggers’ for some people, including child abuse and neglect.

However, I think it has to be read. This is not Victorian England. This is modern-day Ireland in the 21st century, as recently as 2018.

If you think it is incredible. I agree.
If you think it is appalling. I agree.

I worked as an EMT in london for 22 years, and I never ceased to be amazed at what happens ‘behind closed doors’.

This is proof that it is still going on, and sadly is unlikely to ever go away.

St George’s Day

Today is the 23rd April. That date may have little or no significance to most people, and will pass just like any other Saturday, with little or no fuss. But in England at least, it should count for something different. It is our National Day, though you would be forgiven for not knowing that fact.

Unlike Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, England does little to celebrate its patron saint, or the day named after him. More fuss is made of the fact that it is Shakespeare’s birthday, and the TV companies are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the works of the Bard of Avon. Nothing wrong with that of course, but how about poor old Saint George, and England as a separate nation?

If you were in Ireland (or almost anywhere else) on the 17th March, you could never be unaware that it is Saint Patrick’s Day. ‘The wearing of the green’, some crazy outfits, pubs and bars serving green beer, and many other celebrations, would all bring home the fact that Ireland’s saint’s Day is celebrated wherever the Irish have a connection.

On 1st March, if you were Welsh, you might well be wearing a leek, listening to the songs of Druids, or watching a male voice choir singing ‘Men of Harlech.’ One thing’s for sure, you would know that it was Saint David’s Day, and be proud of your Welsh heritage, and separate nationality within the UK. Later in the year, on the 30th of November, Scotland joins in, with Saint Andrew’s day. Scottish flags flying proudly, special meals, and kilts and bagpipes in evidence all over. And since 2006, it is a public holiday in Scotland too.

So what happened in England? Did we just stop caring, or has it all been forgotten? There are some parades, but they are small ones. Some buildings fly the red and white flag of Saint George, but most don’t bother. It is not a public holiday, and very few young people even know that it exists. There is a small website campaigning to get better recognition, but you would be hard pressed to find it mentioned in the mainstream media, let alone celebrated in style. In central London, Trafalgar Square hosts a gathering of Morris Dancers, and a promotion of English food, for the benefit of some bemused tourists to wonder what is going on. The Prime Minister has issued an official message from Downing Street, and a few people are wandering about dressed in the style of 12th century Crusaders.

But we are missing the opportunity to celebrate England as a country in its own right, long before the formation of the UK, or the current union with Scotland, and the six counties of Northern Ireland. I am not a nationalist by nature, but surely we owe it to future generations to make them aware of the culture and heritage of the country that makes up such a large part of the British Isles? Has this country become so diverse, or steeped in apathy, that such things no longer matter? I sincerely hope not.

Happy Saint George’s Day everyone, from good old England.

My DVD Films: Another stack

Six more films, lifted from a middle stack this time, and containing a varied selection once again. This has also shown me how many times I have bought films that are not very good, lured by the subject matter, or the presence of an admired actor in the cast.

Passchendaele (2008)

I would like to say something positive about this film, but I am afraid I cannot. Because I am interested in the First World War, I tend to buy any and all films relating to the period, hoping for the best. On this occasion, I was bitterly disappointed. This is ostensibly about Canadian soldiers, in the build up to one of the largest battles of the war, that lasted for almost four months, during 1917.
There is some background, an unlikely love story, and some battle scenes. That’s about it. It is impossible to engage with any of the characters, or to believe in the events shown, though they are all based on truth.

5,000 Canadian soldiers lost their lives in this battle, and this film is a poor tribute to their sacrifice. Best avoided. I might end up using this as a coaster.

The Officers Ward (2002)

By complete contrast, this superb French film (Original language, English subtitles) takes a realistic and difficult area of the same war, and examines it in detail. The pioneering experiments in plastic surgery, to try to overcome the disfigurements of injuries. Something we may well take for granted now, but at the time, it was almost unknown.

Adrien is injured early in the war, his face badly disfigured by shrapnel. He is transferred to the Officers’ Ward of the title, where he finds himself with others in the same situation. The mirrors are removed, to avoid the soldiers becoming suicidal at their appearance. Modern surgical techniques are tried, along with early prosthetics, to attempt to give these men some semblance of normality. It doesn’t always work, and even at its best, is barely acceptable. But there is no alternative, and we are there to see the struggles of all concerned, both victims, and medical staff.

Adrien is left struggling to come to terms with the outcome, and wondering what his former sweetheart will make of him, once he recovers. This film allows no happy endings though, and tells it as it was. Even with that, it is still marvellous, and a complete work, in every way possible.

Lakeview Terrace (2008)

This is a formulaic and ultimately disappointing American film. It tries to be different, by turning the idea of racism around, and having a protagonist who is black, yet racist against his new neighbours. Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) is an experienced Los Angeles police officer. When his new next-door neighbours turn out to be a white man and his attractive black wife, his resentment soon surfaces.
I won’t bother with too much detail here. You can imagine the rest, I am sure. Abel begins a war of nerves against the couple, with security lights, hosepipes, and everything he can think of to disrupt their happy life, including officially harassing them when on duty. He eventually spirals out of control, with an unfortunate outcome.
This is little more than an average TV film, and best seen for free. Fortunately, I didn’t pay much for it, and I doubt that I will ever bother to watch it again.

Ravenous (1999)

Is this a horror film, a serious drama, or a comedy? In truth, it is a little bit of each of those genres, rolled into one. And it has a great cast, including Robert Carlyle, and Guy Pearce, with music from Michael Nyman, and Damon Albarn. But what is it about? (I hear you cry)
it is set in the 1840s, in the then mostly unexplored areas of California. Captain Boyd (Pearce) is an army officer, sent to a remote outpost, Fort Spencer. There are only seven others at the fort, and they are a mixed bag of characters. A stranger arrives, (Carlyle), telling of a disaster that has befallen his wagon train, and how they have been abandoned by their guide, and forced to eat human flesh to survive.

The soldiers see it as their duty to form a rescue party for the survivors, and set out to look for them, led by the stranger. I am sure you can guess the rest…I really liked this film. Despite the unsavoury subject, (excuse the pun) the accomplished cast relish their roles, (pun intended) and provide us with an unusual and entertaining film, that though set in the west, is not a western. I will leave it to you to place it in the genre that you see fit.

Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (1996)

This is a Serbian film (Original language, English subtitles) about the civil war in Bosnia. It looks at this tragic war through the lives of two best friends, the Serb Milan, and Bosnian Muslim, Halil. Before the outbreak of the war, the two live in the same village in Bosnia, still part of Yugoslavia at the time. When war breaks out, the friends find themselves on opposite sides, and much of the story is told in flashback, where we see the young men in happier times, and the slide towards hostilities.

Trapped with his unit, Milan remembers a tunnel, and suggests that they hide there, as they are surrounded by Bosnian Muslim soldiers. The opposing force includes his old friend, Halil, and eventually, the men meet once again, with hard questions for each other, and even harder answers.
The events of this war are well-known, but often little understood. How friends and neighbours can suddenly descend into a frenzy of atrocities, and ethnic cleansing is shown here, with an attempt to explain some of the reasons behind it. But for those of us who were not involved, the violence and the hatred remains almost impossible to comprehend. A powerful and moving film, giving much to think about.

The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

This incredibly moving film, written and directed by the excellent Peter Mullan, is based on real events that continued in Ireland, until modern times. The Magdalene Asylums were laundries, owned and operated by the Catholic Church. The role was to serve as a home and workhouse for ‘fallen’ girls in Ireland. This could mean anything; from girls known to have had sex with boys, to some with learning difficulties, or a proclivity toward promiscuity. They were given over to these homes by their families, who wanted to avoid the ‘shame’ attached to the wayward daughters.

The film follows the fate of four different girls, all placed in the asylum for various reasons. They are worked like slaves, and subjected to extreme violence from the nuns in charge, as well as being used sexually by the visiting priest, who is supposed to be caring for their spiritual welfare. A brilliant cast, including Geraldine McEwan, Anne-Marie Duff, and Eileen Walsh, all give heart-rending performances. This is a film that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

And it is worth noting that the last of these laundries only closed in 1996.

I hope that you enjoy some of this latest selection. I cannot recommend two of them at all, and one is worth watching, depending on your personal taste. But the other three are superb films, and will each reward the serious viewer.

Garage – A Begorrathon 2015 Guest Post

Here is a review of the 2007 Irish film, ‘Garage’, that I wrote for Niall of It is part of a series of Irish-themed articles called the ‘Beggorathon’.

The Fluff Is Raging

Beetleypete takes a look at the Lenny Abrahamson’s drama Garage as part of #begorrathon2015

PLOT SPOILERS!          

I saw this film for the first time about five years ago. It stayed in my mind as I had never expected it to, and when I watched it again at the end of last year, I was equally moved by its simple yet poignant tale of a man in rural Ireland. Not that the setting is actually that important. It is a story as old as man, of prejudice, cruelty, and despair.

The cast manage to get a complete grasp of their characters, who are all somehow familiar to any of us, despite where we might live. In some ways, the rural Irish setting is important though, to understand the traditional values that still exist in some areas, and how life in a close-knit community can be stifling.



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Disunited Kingdom

I think we should change the abbreviation for the United Kingdom, from UK to DK, to better reflect the current state of things. For that matter, the state that things have pretty much always been in, since the botched unification, centuries ago. We seem to find it easy to accept, that countries that made up the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, or The Soviet Union, should naturally be returned to their previous independent status, so why not in our own country? I have some extreme views on this subject, and I am not even a Nationalist, far from it in fact.

Ireland. The only people left anywhere, who believe that the six counties known as Ulster, should still not be reunified with the Republic of Ireland, are the Unionists and Protestant militants. The sorry history of this troubled island has been the subject of far greater academic works than this humble Blog, but I have more freedom to speak plainly. Give it back to Ireland. It was theirs to start with, and they deserve to have it back. They can also have the huge bill for running it, pick up the tab for all the benefits that have to be ploughed into it, and deal with the political and religious problems that exist, in what is plainly their country. I know we gave them the headache in the first place, but that was a long time ago, and they have to start somewhere. And why do they have to have a separate Assembly, as well as representation in Westminster?

Wales. Long before the Tudors, we have felt that we have some claim to this alien place. Perhaps we are obsessed with rain, or sheep, or just like their choirs. Actually, it was their coal that we wanted, to fuel our industry, and warm our toes. They have their own language, which most of them don’t speak, and claim to have a ‘culture’, something I have seen little evidence of, save for Druids, but admittedly know little about anyway. The main industrial output of Wales, fossil fuels and steel, are no longer as important as they once were, and if the publicity is to be credited, Tourism is now the main industry there. They don’t really like the English, and resent our holiday homes there, even going so far as to burn them down; and if you go to the ‘wrong part’, they speak to you in Welsh, to show their contempt. Yet they advertise on TV in England, asking you to go here on holiday! They also have an Assembly, as well as sending members of parliament to Westminster. Let them have independence too. Let them pay for their unemployed, their schools, and their literature in both languages.  Let’s see how well they do. I think I can make an educated guess.

Scotland. They call the English ‘The Auld Enemy’, and with good reason. Ever since the Romans built a wall to keep them out, they have been trying to get back in. They like to get jobs in the Armed Forces, or work in London, or the towns in the North, anything to get away from Scotland. There are probably more Scots living in England, than in their own country. They also have their own legislature, a grander affair, called The Scottish Parliament, in an incongruous, unattractive building that should never have been allowed, in a nice historical place like Edinburgh. Yet, like the other ‘countries’ of the UK, they still send members to the parliament in Westminster. Even the proposed referendum on Independence is a Scottish-only affair, nobody else gets a vote. This is a nation that we were still fighting in comparatively modern times, the late 18th Century, and one as foreign to us as any other European sovereign state. We cannot hold our heads proudly at how we have dealt with them over the centuries. There was land-grabbing, expulsions, mass murders, and a sort of selective ethnic cleansing. In modern times, we also used their young men as ready cannon fodder for our wars, and then stole their offshore oil, just to rub salt in the wound. So, let us say ‘sorry’, give them back their country, grant the independence that some of them seek, and let them exist happily on oil revenues, and whisky exports.

And what of England? We have no other Assembly, or Parliament to represent our unique views. We are not even considered to have any such uniqueness, or the need for additional representation. England, at least one small part of it, supplies most of the wealth that feeds the whole United Kingdom, yet is reviled for its former bad deeds, living in a condition of constant apology. The national flag of St George, once a proud symbol, has now been hijacked by the Far Right, becoming as unacceptable as a Swastika. If we deducted all the income generated by the other three countries in our Union, we would find that England could manage very well on its own, even better without the financial burden of propping up these ailing satellite nations.

Let’s issue new passports, and revise nationalities. Have borders that have to be crossed, different currencies, and free repatriation to those living here already. We can take the blame for everything bad that ever happened in the history of the British Isles, proffer sincere apologies, explain that it was all a very long time ago, and we are giving everyone a fresh start. Then we can stand back, and put our hands over our ears, to block out the cries of woe. The only way to prove to these other nations of the UK, that they could never exist alone, is to let them try. And then not let them back in.

We do not live in a ‘United Kingdom’, and we never have. One day, we may have a government brave enough to speak this truth, and not only grant independence to those other countries on these islands but actually force them to take it.

Euro panic

There is a rumour going around, that David Cameron may allow a referendum on Britain leaving the EU. Even if he does this, there is no guarantee that the vote will go that way, or even that it will not be rigged to ensure that it does not. The truth is, that most politicians, and most British businesses, want to stay in Europe, as they are too scared to leave, or are over-committed to investments and trade agreements there. Nonetheless, I would welcome the chance to vote, as the public backlash may get us out of this fiasco for once and for all; I can but hope.

Depending whose statistics you believe, it costs the UK £35 million pounds a day to be in the EU. That is a seriously high membership fee, for any club. I can’t even be bothered to get up a calculator to work it out, but you can, if you want. Enter the sum, 35 X 365, and add lots of noughts to the answer. Then, think a new hospital every few days, an end to child poverty by the end of the week, and universally affordable housing by a week on Sunday. An investment in British industry within a year, that could halve unemployment at a stroke. These are the sort of possibilities denied us, by this ridiculous payment. Even if you deduct the so-called ‘returning money’, mostly given in the form of various invisible subsidies, still the most hard-line European supporters must concede a difference approaching almost £20 million a day. Definitely time to leave.

Of equal, if not greater interest, is the reaction of America, Germany, and Ireland to this news. They are cautioning Cameron not to allow this vote, and to completely reconsider any thoughts of Britain leaving the EU. That puts the cap on it for me. All our oldest enemies, purporting to be our new friends and allies, are threatening all kinds of disasters and repercussions, if we actually go. If they want us in so badly, I cannot think of a better reason to get out.



Regional accents

In Britain, we have many regional accents. There are also the Irish, Welsh, and Scottish accents, as well as those from Australia and Africa, and the accents of people originating from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. In the UK, especially in the larger cities, we come into contact with all these accents on a daily basis, to the extent that they become normal, and unnoticed, to a large degree.

No doubt other countries have their accents to deal with. Even as a Londoner, I can tell the difference between an American from the deep south, say New Orleans, and a New Yorker. However, we cannot really differentiate between a Canadian, and an American, and I am not sure if they can either, though I suspect that they are able to. To our ears, every African accent is just African. We cannot really say if someone is from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, or Chad. Similarly, with accents from India. We cannot put hand on heart, and say someone is Indian, Sri Lankan, or Pakistani. Names help of course, as Nigerian names are often a giveaway, and nobody from Bangladesh has a non-Muslim name.

In the UK, there are distinctive accents from different regions, though again, we cannot, as Londoners, be more specific to location, on most occasions. There is an accent in the North-East of the country, centred on the Newcastle area, known as ‘Geordie’. Not only is this a pleasant sound, a sing-song accent easy on the ear, it also has unique words and phrases. All women and girls are generally called ‘pet’, and good things are known as ‘canny’. Nonetheless, the North-East is very large, and people outside of Newcastle bitterly resent being accused of having a Geordie accent. Unfortunately, for us southerners, Sunderland, Middlesborough, and Durham, are all too close geographically, and the accents too similar, for us to possibly comprehend the differences. Then there is Wales. Best considered to be another country, very different to the rest of the UK, and still clinging on to its own unique language. The place names are so unusual, they can only be pronounced by the Welsh. Despite a clear demarcation between the North and South of Wales, they all sound much the same to us.

The Scots. An accent so impenetrable, that TV often uses subtitles when a Scottish person is being interviewed. In the working-class districts of the major towns and cities, Glasgow for example, only a Scot would have a clue what was being said. The country areas of the UK; Norfolk, Somerset, Devon, and those predominantly in the South-West, just all sound the same to a Londoner. Farming, outdoor life, and a slow, relaxed attitude, have left the populations of those areas with a country drawl, which just screams ‘Farmer’ to a city person, without need for further clarification. Londoners call all these people ‘Carrot crunchers’, denoting a country lifestyle of working the land, and vegetables. This may sound insulting. It is not meant to be, it is merely identification.

Ireland has two main accents, to an outsider anyway. We are very familiar with them, as there are almost as many Irish living in mainland Britain, as there are in the whole of Ireland. There is the accent of the North; harsh, aggressive, bitter, and unyielding. Then the accent of the South, the Republic, tinged with humour, musical, and easy going. Hundreds of years of ‘The Troubles’ have made us all very familiar with both of these accents. They are so common in London, that you could almost call them an ‘honorary’ London Accent.

The Midlands, Birmingham, Coventry, and the large urban connurbations in those regions, have a strange, nasal accent, delivered with a whine. It is , I am sorry to say, unpleasant, and my least favourite accent, from anywhere. They also have some unique sayings, calling younger siblings ‘our kid’, for example. They are not pleasant sayings, and because of the nasal delivery, are not popular, and have not caught on anywhere else. Sorry Midlands, but you must know that it is true. The North-West also has two dominant accents, those of Liverpool, and the Manchester area. To a southerner, both are better unheard. The Liverpool accent  (popularised by The Beatles) is exceptionally whiny, with an aggressive tone, and use of regional phrases. It is very localised, and does not extend too far from the city limits, which for me, is a blessing. The Manchester accent is a mumble, delivered with aggression, and in a fast monotone fashion. It is such that a very young person might sound old, and the most pleasant person may appear to be extremely angry. There are other Northern accents, in Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Nottinghamshire, for example; but they all sound much the same, to anyone who is not from those parts.

Then there is London, and the South-East. For someone born there, the definitions are easy. I can even usually tell if someone is from East, or South London. Essex is easily detected, Kent less so, as it still sounds London. People in Surrey and Sussex tend to be better off, and speak better English, in the BBC style, as a consequence of their education, and job choices. Hampshire and Oxfordshire have their quota of ‘Farming’ accents, as well as the more cultured tones of the commuters, and middle-classes. Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire now have so many Londoners, fleeing North of the Capital to escape house prices there, that they are more-or-less Londoners too. There are many places, and other counties, that I have not bothered to mention. Just lump them in with the nearest big city, or regional town, and you can pretty much guess their accent too.

The truth is, that I have a London accent. I am proud of that fact, I embrace it, and would want no other. When Americans visit London, they used to often ask if I am Australian. To say that I find this insulting, would be a huge understatement. Even though I have a weakness for the aforementioned Geordie accent, the reality is that I find all other UK regional accents, except London, outdated, and difficult to listen to. Country people sound less intelligent than they might be, and Northerners just sound aggressive. The Scots, Irish, and and Welsh? They are just foreigners, no different than listening to someone from France, or Russia.

So, what is a British accent? Is it best portrayed by David Beckham, Robbie Williams, or Sean Connery? For my money, listen to Michael Caine. He’s got it just right…

Great British Summer

It is the 1st of August and the sun is out in Norfolk. (At least in this part). One of the things I most looked forward to about moving to the country, was being able to enjoy the good weather. After 12 years in a flat, I contemplated sitting in the garden, eating alfresco from the barbecue, day trips to the nearby coast. Sadly, it was not to be. Nothing but rain, followed by more rain, with rain forecast for the weekend. There were a few days in late March when it got quite warm. I even managed a decent tan on my arms and legs! I cannot recall such a wet summer in my 60 years, does anyone else?

Perhaps it is another aspect of having time on your hands, that these things assume an unprecedented importance. When you have to go to work, you just get on with it. Put on a raincoat, use an umbrella, just pleased to be home out of it, at the end of a long day. But when the day stretches ahead of you, and your plans all concern being outside, bad weather begins to eat into you, darkening your mood along with the skies. Lights on at 11am, windows closed to stop the water getting in, garden like a quagmire (not the Family Guy one), and no relief in sight. It is like living in the film ‘Blade Runner’, where it is always raining, and always dark.

Is this what it’s like to live in Ireland?