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12 November 2005
Armistice Day
My mother's great uncle, photographed about 1901 during his service in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.

My father, a gunner in the Royal Artillery, photographed in 1941. He hand-painted the black and white image and sent it to my mother.

My mother's aunt, uncle and cousin. The photograph was taken in 1915 as my great-uncle went off to war. My maternal grandfather never returned from the trenches and this family became my mother's parents after her own mother died of influenza in 1920.

I have literally dozens of photographs from both sides of my family that were taken during the various wars that Britain waged. The earliest is a Daguerrotype taken shortly after the Indian Mutiny. They were all volunteers, except for my father who waited to be conscripted. Joining the army was a way to avoid the poverty of industrial Lancashire, and many of them took the option.

I was lucky to be born in the 1950s when working men had plenty of job oportunities and the standard of living for me and mine rose every year. We did not have to go off and fight the bosses' wars - we were the lucky generation.

Late last year I went back to Manchester for the first time in many years. Ancoats, Miles Platting and Newton Heath are as depressed and dead as they were when I left over a decade earlier. Now the choice is the dole, a Mickey Mouse training course or the army. The hand shandyists for war, some of whom have the temerity to place images of poppies on their sites, and others who talk glibly of fighting yet more wars, should be well pleased: we are back to the pre-war years in terms of economic security and they will have plenty of volunteers for their future wars.

I have had two operations in just over a year and my lungs are riddled with fibrosis. I will be lucky to reach pension age, always assuming that NewLab has not scrapped such things as mandatory retirement. Well, guess what, you cockroaches: I have three fine, strong sons and two of them are the great-grandsons of a man who rode with la division del sur during the Mexican Revolution. That's right, boys, he was one of Zapata's men. The two that live with me know what you are like because I have told them stories of my own life and stories that came down to me from my parents. They will live to see the day when your daughters are reduced to sucking dick on street corners for the price of a meal.

that was almost a good post - but I won't quibble because I love old photographs and the ones you put up were very fine indeed.

13 November 2005 at 03:01  

My mother was the sort of person who saved things, especially photos. I now have them over here in a big tin box.

Welcome to the site, by the way. Forgive me if I don't reply to everything that you, or anybody else, posts. Running the blog is a more difficult undertaking that I first thought.

13 November 2005 at 04:30  

My mother died during the summer. There has been a lot of opening of old tins and sifting through old photos recently ...

Good luck with the blog. It looks sharp and smart!

14 November 2005 at 00:43  

I am sorry for your loss. People say all sorts of silly things at times like this, but one thing that has always given me comfort is the memory of a conversation I had with a cousin the week my father and maternal aunt both died. I made some comment about the end of the older generation, and my cousin said that, no, all that had happened was that we had become the older generation in our family.

He was right of course. We all have children and mine are growing up fast. I take comfort from the fact that the cycle continues.

14 November 2005 at 09:31  

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