Every picture …

… tells a story, no matter how short.  This photograph of my Dad was taken some time in the mid sixties. A reserved character, a man less likely to take a ‘selfie’ is hard to imagine, but this image looks distinctly set up and posed, not least because the armchair is positioned directly in front of the TV.  I can only imagine this was an assignment for the camera club – ‘this week gentlemen, we will use the tripod and timer to produce a self portrait in natural light‘.  Not bloody likely would be my Dad’s instinctive reaction but he would eventually soften as he did in most things.

A keen amateur photographer, he was also a compulsive reader.  The trip to the local library on a Saturday morning was a lifelong ritual.  For this image he has chosen a Fodor travel guide gripped by Senior Service stained fingers.

The TV was a Grundig, our window on the world.  It was this device that told us of JFK’s assassination, gripped us as England beat West Germany in 1966 and was intolerably switched off when Bob Dylan first appeared on the BBC. Every Monday and Wednesday evening at 7:30pm it was tuned to Granada TV for Coronation Street.

The TV is no more but the brass snuff box on its top remains. The most unlikely objects survive us.



  1. Photographs by Peter Knight · October 25, 2015

    A really interesting read!

  2. janemorley2014 · October 25, 2015

    What an evocative post Robin, I was back as a small child there for a while with my grandparents watching Morecambe & Wise Christmas Shows and tuning in to the Rover’s Return – crumbs life was different wasn’t it?! Lovely 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · October 25, 2015

      Many thanks Jane – it seemed a gentler world back then, maybe because we knew too little – now we seem to know too much.

      • janemorley2014 · October 25, 2015

        I couldn’t agree with you more Robin! It’s always a trade-off isn’t it, it would just be nice if we could keep some of the advances but return to little more simple kindness and humanity.:)

  3. janemorley2014 · October 25, 2015

    PS Love your Dad’s photo too!

    • northumbrianlight · October 25, 2015

      Thanks Jane – he has captured himself perfectly – a great Dad

      • janemorley2014 · October 25, 2015

        Every kid should have one! Mine was too but he was a rubbish photographer, we laugh at our old family holiday snaps , our heads are frequently missing!

  4. Kari Jeppesen · October 25, 2015

    …such a beautiful and tender post, Robin… thank you so much!

  5. Tish Farrell · October 25, 2015

    Time travel so sparely executed through this post, Robin.

  6. LaVagabonde · October 25, 2015

    That last line is just fantastic. I can sense your father’s reluctance. I think you might have inherited his aversion to selfies. Unless you’ve got a secret Instagram account. 😉

    • northumbrianlight · October 25, 2015

      Many thanks Julie – I have been learning from your short sharp phrasing.
      I have Instagram and Blip accounts but remain steadfastly invisible 🙂
      The snuff box is not yet labelled with a recipient but I like the idea of getting such things organised 😉

  7. michaelwatsonvt · October 25, 2015

    I love the photo and text. I think I would have liked your dad.

  8. milfordstreet · October 25, 2015

    Really interesting. I recall the pain of being asked to do a self portrait for a photo class…and not a selfie. Your dad did a great and proper job. The image is lit well and shows the reserved nature of which you speak. Excellent post. Cheers!

    • northumbrianlight · October 25, 2015

      Many, many thanks, much appreciated. It is interesting that others can see his reserve – I just see my Dad which I guess encapsulates the same thing.

  9. Cate Franklyn · October 25, 2015

    Very picturesque writing, Robin. I loved the part about the Saturday morning visits to the library. The image is beautiful and real. Your dad did a terrific job with lighting and composition.

    • northumbrianlight · October 25, 2015

      Many thanks Cate, very kind. He was a great user of libraries and the bookshelves at home relatively sparse. Mine are full, being too materialistic about books – possibly a generational difference based on availability and money.

      • Cate Franklyn · October 25, 2015

        I always like to own my books. Then I can read them at my leisure, over and over again.

  10. tms · October 25, 2015

    The picture tells a story, and the text does … and I am speechless. This is a great glimpse into somebody else’s life, a fragment, but all the more evocative. Thanks for sharing and getting me thinking…

  11. restlessjo · October 25, 2015

    Not so different in our house, Robin. Lovely snuff box 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · October 26, 2015

      I think you have got it Jo – in part that’s why it all felt so safe and secure back then (despite the threat of Armageddon 🙂 ) – through that box in the corner of the room with so few channels, a large swathe of the population had a shared experience.
      The snuff box is one of several – my Mum became an avid antique collector but that’s another story.

  12. islandrain2013 · October 26, 2015

    I really enjoyed this poignant post. Thank you. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · October 26, 2015

      Many thanks – I am not sure my Dad would appreciate all this attention 🙂

      • islandrain2013 · October 26, 2015

        I know what you mean…but shall we do as writers? 😉

  13. socialbridge · October 26, 2015

    Robin, simply love this post.

    • northumbrianlight · October 27, 2015

      Many thanks Jean – the snuff box and ‘The Bar’ have certain similarities.

      • socialbridge · October 28, 2015

        Definite parallels by the sound of it.

  14. littledogslaughed · October 28, 2015

    A wonderful post Robin–I can share your father’s aversion to self-portraits, but clearly he was a photographer that did not do things half way. That is a marvelous image. And as I am going through my parent’s things it has been interesting to see what has survived-odd little ends of lives well-lived-

    • northumbrianlight · October 28, 2015

      Many thanks Meg. Mum became an avid antique collector in her later years and we have inherited a large proportion of it. Nice though some of it is, it is the smaller pieces I remember from my early years that resonate most. Even more interesting is the documentation – details of cars purchased, insurance, payslips and old postcards. Thanks for stopping by, always good to hear from you.

  15. litadoolan · October 31, 2015

    Elegant and moving post. A dignified tribute to a more thoughtful (and insightful) generation.

    • northumbrianlight · October 31, 2015

      Many thanks Lita – they were but my teenage self was more attuned to Bob Dylan’s sentiments in ‘The times they are a’changin. We wise up with the passing years 😉

  16. Leya · November 6, 2015

    A lovely post that brought me back to my own childhood. The TV, the library and the turning off…certain programmes. A great photo of your father, and if a reluctant “selfie”, even greater. I can feel the reluctance, as I am myself the same.
    Times were easier then. In fact I have since long stopped reading the evening press and also stopped watching TV for other programmes than positive ones.

    • northumbrianlight · November 7, 2015

      Many thanks Leya, this post seems to have struck a chord with those of us of a certain age 😉 I wholly understand your response to the news – it is not so much the endless negative stories as the media’s short term knee-jerk reaction to them. I could go on but I won’t 🙂 Many thanks for stopping by, all the best, Robin.

  17. Malin Ellisdotter H · November 8, 2015

    Yes, every picture tells a story and this story is so beautiful. Your dad was a really handsome man. Thank you for sharing this lovely story and this fantastic image (his self portrait). Lovely!

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