Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's the Third Sunday of Easter and here is the latest liturgical news from Rome. According to Pope Benedict's recent statement (Sacramentum Caritatis 2007) he urges that "the better known prayers of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian Chant should be sung." I'm not a fierce member of the Back To Latin brigade (see above car-sticker) but it looks like some of us now have a bit of "dead" language swotting-up to do.

Dominus Vobiscum...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Faded signs update! Here are two vintage hand-painted beauties from an enjoyable drive last Saturday morning. The first is sadly only half a sign from an abandoned premises in Willington, Co.Durham. I like the light blue drop-shadow on the "M.A" and the rather elegant lower-case enamel work on the word "newsagent".

Farther down the road in the super-quiet market town of Crook I was entranced by the Ironmongers shop in the main street. This is a highly distinguished Victorian shopfront anyway, just look at that burgundy iron framework on the second storey. But here's a real Northern Archaological discovery: the current lower fascia has been removed to reveal the duck-egg blue original "Arthur Lax, Established 1840, Ironmonger". I had to record this one before it's covered up once again!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Statistics say that people are now much more likely to change employers or even their profession during their working lives. Try telling that to Nora in this Disappearing Phrase I drew last year.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Venerable Liverpool Beatnik Bob Parker contacted Bagnall's Retreat to make a comment on the recent "Northern Archaology" posts:
" all those images from down-at-heel post-industrial towns and villages. A few years ago I took some pics of city centre dereliction thinking I'd best do it before it got replaced by shiny new flat-pack buildings. Wonder why it is you, me (and everyone else I know) finds this forlorn abandonment much more aesthetically pleasing than the concrete, steel and glass so beloved of the redeveloper? Maybe it's an age thing..."
Thanks a lot, Bob, especially for coining the eloquent phrase "forlorn abandonment". Here are some more photos I took which hopefully illustrate that phrase. First is a long deserted shop in Wingate (see how dusty the venetian blinds look.) Second is a boarded up school in Easington Colliery (the manual instruction classroom entrance) and third is a row of lovely dilapidated sheds/garages in Fencehouses. All from (as yet) undeveloped corners of County Durham.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

12th day of the month already and still no sign of any April showers. Was I wasting my time drawing the above strip? Thanks to global warming it looks like you're all going to get more time to play out on your bikes....

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter everyone! I hope none of you get spots from all those chocolate eggs you've been saving up for today....

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Today is Holy Saturday. When darkness falls this evening the great Easter Vigil begins. Outside the church a fire is lit and blessed. The fire symbolises the radiance of the Risen Christ who dispels the darkness of death and sin.
"Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in Glory!
The Risen Saviour shines upon you,
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's People!"
Photo is from the Cistercian Abbey of Genesee, USA.

Friday, April 06, 2007

During today's Good Friday services the cross is venerated by kissing the feet of a crucifix. Here are some of the words to a hymn traditionally sung in the Catholic liturgy while this takes place:

"He endured the nails,the spitting,
Vinegar, and spear, and reed;
From that holy Body broken
Blood and water forth proceed;
Earth, and stars, and sky, and ocean
By that flood from stain are freed.

Sweetest wood and sweetest nails,
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.

Thou alone wast counted worthy
This world's ransom to uphold;
For a ship-wreck'd race preparing
Harbour, like the Ark of old;
With the sacred Blood anointed
From the smitten Lamb that rolled.

Sweetest wood and sweetest nails,
Sweetest weight is hung on thee."

On a lighter note, I found three Good Friday superstitions from British days of old:

Eggs laid on Good Friday will never go bad.

Sailors took hot cross buns with them on Good Friday to prevent shipwreck.

Having a haircut on Good Friday will prevent toothaches for the rest of the year.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

More from Wingate. This former colliery/pit village turned out to offer much more than a couple of fine vintage and faded signs. Never have I experienced such a magically desolate and abandoned atmosphere. The only sounds were cars swishing through on their way to more important places. On a Saturday afternoon its library, post office, barber shop and coach-travel agent were closed. Many former small-businesses looked long untenable. A dusty premises called John's Cafe gathered damp as its venetian blinds slid down discoloured window panes. Uphill, a large 1930's Co-Op building was For Sale, but who would be interested in purchasing such a multi-roomed monolith in this ghostly Northern backwater? Other commercial properties showed signs of vandalism, as did a formerly rather grand looking red-brick Police Station. All its windows were smashed...

I hear Wingate suffers more than a fair share of social problems. Wingate Grange Colliery closed down as early as 1962. Teenage pregnancies and drug problems abound. Yet, powerless to help, all my comments lie firmly in the aesthetic realm. As I fall asleep I'm unable to stop vivid memories of this place resonating around my brain!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Faded signs. Vintage hand-painted signage is becoming more scarce as the temporary turn-over of shop ownership increases. Shopkeepers have little option when all that seems to be available are ugly computer-cut vinyl fascias. Sometimes when a business has gone bust or is being refurbished an old enamel painted wood fascia will be revealed for a short time, like an archaological layer at a dig. The experience is almost like spotting a ghost. Perhaps you will only be lucky to catch a quick glimpse before the faded sign is covered up once more or even demolished.

Last Saturday I visited former colliery village Wingate (Co.Durham) to photograph this lovely example. As you'll see, the lower half of the empty shop is recent but the top fascia has been torn off to reveal an ancient looking three part sign for "Doggart's". This company once thrived in County Durham and I'm told a Doggart's Department Store stood prominently in Durham City Marketplace until the early 70s. This Wingate store must surely go back to at least the 50s? The lettering is carved into the wooden fascia boards and I'm guessing must have been covered in complementary coloured glass panels to give quite a classy deep 3-D effect. Such craftsmanship and so evocative of a lost era...
I was fortunate to find more at Wingate. Stay posted for more ghostly Northern Archaology!