Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Monochrome Breakfast

Please forgive the black and white tone of this week's blogs, but I couldn't resist showing you this little gem. If nothing else it proves that photographing breakfasts isn't an entirely modern preoccupation (blogs passim). This is of 1936 vintage, taken in a brick and flint country cottage. I know this because the photograph is from a little album (entitled 'Snapshots' and sold by C.B.Keene of Derby) that has turned up in yet another box of oddments. I've no idea if the people in it are relations, or whether I just idly picked it up in a shop, but the photographs show what looks like a couple on holiday in the Peak District. This breakfast scene is printed on 'Velox' paper, which I thought was a Vauxhall, and is rich in detail. High spot on the high table is the half empty jar of what the Unmitigated Laboratory has ascertained to be Wm.P.Hartley's Marmalade. Either the host or, if the lensman is the bloke, his wife, is seen as a ghostly apparition outside the front door (which incidentally is eerily identical to my own). I can look at this scene for a long time, a very rare insight into the 1930's breakfast table amongst the more usual coy snapshots of anonymous people relaxing on a week off. It brings to mind those lines from John Betjeman's Summoned by Bells, remembering just such a scene from his Cornish holidays: Nose! Smell again the early morning smells: Congealing bacon and my father's pipe...

18 comments:

Peter Ashley said...

My Neighbour Who Knows What I Like has identified the flowers on the table as jonquils, so thinks that it's possibly the month of May.

A F-A said...

The worst book I ever read was called ' Jonquil. Test Pilot' by one, Eileen Marsh. She also wrote 'Peggy. Parachutist', 'Lorna. Air Pilot' and 'The unnatural behaviour of Mrs Hooker. A book for women'. Draw your own conclusions....

A F-A said...

Sorry about that...it was the mention of jonquils. My therapist advised me to open up...

Peter Ashley said...

Always glad to be of service AFA. Anybody finding therapy in the half empty jar of marmalade?

KSV Woolfoot said...

That is a wonderfully evocative photo. Thanks.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Beautiful. The flowers, the fern in the window, the salt and pepper pots. The feeling of things moving at a slower pace that's hinted at with the napkins and things lurking under tureen covers. Another time, another time.

Toby Savage said...

Lovely shot. I always find it interesting that, with the passage of time, even the most prosaic of photographs gains such importance. This could well be one of those totally un-posed ones taken 'to finish the film off', or my a child (judging by the camera angle), who would have been told off for wasting film.

Ron Combo said...

Bloody hell! That's my Auntie Eileen at the door!

Peter Ashley said...

No it's not Ron.

Jon Dudley said...

Looks like the nosey neighbour through the doorway. What a tranquil scene...have they all fled to the bottom of the garden after a mouthful of rancid butter? Everything from the marble clock to the pot of mustard, the serviette rings the brass and ceramic light switches and the dish lid covering god-knows-what coagulating underneath - everything reminds me of breakfasts at grandma's.

Fred Fibonacci said...

The power of the still photograph.

Keith Ash-Leigh took this. Three years before the war and with his great adventure still to come, he's sitting in the cosy chair by the Rayburn in his cousin's cottage near Eyam, fiddling about with his new camera and snap! he captures his sweetheart at the door, and breakfast on the table. The Austin is parked outside, its narrow tyres having made soft furrows in the verge where Keith pulled it close in to the hedge to keep out of the way of the farmer's dray.

They've planned a walk, so; a big breakfast and careful rehearsal with the new camera. He has a keen eye; soon Keith will discover he is incapable of taking a bad shot. He is anxious to get a move on; not only must they have their walk but there's the newly painted station down at Whatstandwell and the illuminations at Matlock Bath to see. Belching loudly, he rises from his chair, passes to the left hand side of the breakfast table and out of the door. Derbyshire awaits.

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Fred, I've think you've got it about right. But what I want to know is what's under the cover on the plate, and are there marmalade stains on the serviettes.

Vinogirl said...

With a mere keystroke nowadays we can turn a colour digital photo into a black & white one...sometimes it's just best to leave well enough alone.

Peter Ashley said...

This one's the real thing Vinogirl. Come round to Ashley Towers and I'll prove it to you. After I've cooked my Cumberland Sausages for breakfast.

Jon Dudley said...

Here, steady on Mr.A.

Ron Combo said...

This is normal Jon. He's like a man possessed once he's had a sausage.

Jon Dudley said...

May I recommend Walls' 'Bromide Plus' the sausage brand for the over stimulated...

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