Monday, July 30, 2007

Stanley's faded dancehall days. This "ghost" sign, painted directly onto an end-terrace wall in Stanley Co.Durham, was one of the first I ever spotted in this region. The letter style puts it at least as far back as the 1950s and it seems to be advertising the then very popular dances which were the only place anyone could do a bit of "courting".

My friend Gordon Wearmouth (who is in his 70s) said the only drawback to these cafe venues was that they had no licence to sell alcohol - he and his mates used to skip every third tune, nip over the wall to a pub, swig a pint in record time and be back before the band had struck up the next opening chord.

It's a miracle this sign has survived so long. Below it is a Primary School playground, can't believe it hasn't been painted over with some hideously bright community mural which educationalists seem to think stimulate young children.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Look, Tunnocks on wheels!

This Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Wagon has to be the smartest livery on the UK's roads today, especially since the Eddie Stobart Haulage Co. tragically dropped their traditional green and red brush-written cabs in favour of sad and underwhelming Photoshop digital signage. And to add insult to injury, Stobart drivers now may wear sloppy corporate polo-shirts instead of their once compulsory collar, tie and v-neck standards have dropped in the transport cafe milieu.

I've quite often spotted these fabulous Tunnocks vehicles on the road but have never had a camera in my pocket to take a snap. The other week I was very lucky to see this sparkling beaut parked up on an Industrial Estate in Chester-le-Street, Co.Durham. I was as happy as a trainspotter on a busy day at Crewe Interchange to get this shot.

But there is more to add to the whole Tunnocks biscuit debate first begun on my post of 5th July. A close gourmand friend has dropped a line to say: "much as I love Tunnock's teacakes and the packaging and their business philosophy, can't help but feel Lee's have the edge with their Snowballs and I really love Gray & Dunn's caramel wafers without the chocolate coating". I'll admit that Lee's snowballs are delicious with a cup of PG Tips and the (now rare) Gray & Dunn "bare" wafers are a spartan treat maybe even permissable during Lent, yet I feel even if Tunnocks products were made of noxious wax the packaging would still make them the outright winner in anyone's traditional confectionery stakes.

So, despite my sanctimonious condemnation of the power of contemporary marketing, I have to concede design wins over taste-on-the-tongue in this particular case. Any comments on products bought mainly for their visual appeal would be welcome. One other example for me is Wright's Coal Tar Soap. I love its plain paper packaging and the 1st World War style odour, but any contact with my problematic 21st Century skin would be inviting terrible sores and flaking...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bagnall's Retreat is just over One Year Old! Should have had a couple of jars round the snug to celebrate. Nothing can spoil a good booze-up like a bloke who won't get his round in, though. Astute readers will recognise the above Disappearing Phrase as a variation on the "Long Pockets, Short Arms" syndrome...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

14th Sunday of the Year. Have just discovered this jaw-droppingly beautiful photo archive of 1960s Catholic Street Altars and Marian Processions from London's East End.
The Legion Of Mary and the Knights of St.Columba are fully in evidence here. Such social cohesion and cultural identity is now long gone of course, successfully eroded by the total triumph of consumerism. You mean there was once something else to do on Sunday other than go shopping?

For more, go here.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Rest In Peace, George Melly. I was sad to read the obituaries for genial George in today's newspapers. This son of Liverpool deserves much more praise and recognition than current Scouser embarrassments like Paul McCartney. I'll remember him for many things. His three volumes of autobiography, Scouse Mouse, Rum Bum & Concertina and Owning Up. His championing of Surrealism and Outsider Art. His scripts for Trog's comic strip Flook and screenplay for 60s satire Smashing Time.

The one time I saw George Melly in person was suddenly recognising him standing on a London street corner, observing the unfolding scene. He was wearing a lilac fedora and vivid checked suit, just like he might've worn on stage with John Chilton's Feetwarmers. I was deeply impressed that his eccentricities weren't just fabricated for the gaze of the media.

Above llustration of George Melly is by venerable cartoonist Trog (aka Wally Fawkes.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Packaging which should never be up-dated: Only the most media-brainwashed dolt could fail to be charmed by these classic Tunnocks biscuits box designs. From the original hand drawn lettering to the rosy-cheeked Caramel Wafer Biscuit laddy and the snowball chucking pair of Scottish bairns, all discerning consumers should be happily drawn into a nostalgic world similar to that of DC Thomson's Oor Wullie and The Broons. Tunnock's biscuits are the best - I hope one day to visit their famous factory shop in Uddingston...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The rain just won't stop! Here we are in July 2007 and today I lay on the bed listening to the now daily sound of thunder and torrential downpouring. The reasons for this cycle of wetness were explained in one of this week's newspapers but it was beyond my comprehension. Just in case Summer finally arrives, I thought it was prudent to now post another Rainy Day Activities strip.