Lost and Forgotten Films of British Cinema…

A Fire Has Been Arranged 1935. I remember owning an old VHS copy of this movie some years ago. It’s a rather odd screwball type of plot for Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen, who are a couple of crooks that decide to hide their ill-gotten gains by digging a hole in a field. They are then caught by Police for their crimes and serve 10 years imprisonment. On their release they return to collect their loot only to find that a shopping mall has been built over the ground. What serves next is a mad cap attempt to find their loot by digging up the flooring of a department store. The store becomes engulfed in fire and a team of woman fire fighters, headed by Rob Wilton, try to put the fire out. The movie includes song and dance and ends with Bud and Ches driving their wreck of a car along a rail line. Not for the faint hearted. But you gotta admit, these were great guys and great in their time… Production and distribution was from Twickenham Studios and it went out as a U Cert, so that means it was fun to be enjoyed by everyone.

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 56… A Change of Mind

‘I don’t know Charlie. I think you are playing with forces that you can’t understand and you are putting Esme in some danger.’

‘Some danger Bill? Danger from what! Forces we don’t understand. Come-on, this is all nonsense. It’s born in the minds of those that…’ he stopped himself further, thinking of Esme feelings.

‘We’ve looked over the old place Bill. No harm has come to us. If Esme can raise thoughts in her mind when she is there. That’s perfectly ok. Look, when a person can tune into what we call an astral plain they are given the courtesy of being respected as a “Medium”. Not labelled as some person of evil. To be that gifted and move within a spirit world. Why not?’

‘Because it’s not right Charlie It’s not normal behaviour.  You know, I did not welcome you both here to become ghost hunters. Perhaps, you both… Should return to London and not cause any further upset’. Bill was clearly very angry, it was there in his eyes.  ’Charlie, all I want to do… All we ever came here for, was peace and quiet. The kind of life that allowed me to paint and the kind of life that suited Margarita. Charles… Esme. Let it go. Go back to the city… To a life that is suited to you both. And then… We can remain friends.’

‘Well, you’re right Bill.’ That frustration in Charles mind began to ebb somewhat. ‘We have no reason to impose on you both in this way. I’m… No, we are both very sorry. We will return to London in the morning and remain good friends and that’s how it should be. I’m sorry Bill… Margarita, I won’t give any more thought to this silly matter.’

They talked in their small bedroom that last night and sat either side of the bed, rather saddened and with their backs to each other.

‘Bill’s right of course.’ said Charles after some period of silence. ‘We have to return to London. We can’t presume on this friendship any longer, it simply, is not fair to them. We’ve outstayed our welcome, and rightly so.’

‘But, surely Charles, we can’t let this go.’

‘We can Esme, we have to, for the sake of friendship and most importantly… Respect for others. We’ll return to London, and there perhaps, we will have those answers we are searching for…’

‘Please Charles. If we do this. I must stay with you. I’ve no wish to return to the folds of my mother and certainly not after a failed marriage. She would not understand how my life has been changed. She would only see the best of Edward.’

‘I’m sorry to say, that your mother thinks only of you’re welfare in terms of wealth and position. That’s her way and it’s borne of her generation. Maybe, that’s not so bad, but times are changing. The old class system is breaking down and because of that, thankfully. we will be together forever. That’s how it will be!’

That following morning Margarita had cooked a fine breakfast for them in her little kitchen. Around the table it was a quiet affair. She fussed over them for extra helpings and with respect for their long journey home. Bill puffed cautiously on his old clay pipe from a chair in the corner of the room. At last, he spoke. ‘Charlie, look I’m truly sorry. I really did not get much sleep last night thinking about what I said to you. Perhaps you both should stay. I was out of order….’

‘Dear friend’ Charles interrupted him. ’You have a perfect right to your own life. We both know that. For us to return to London is the very best thing to do, and look, how many years have I known you and Margarita…Ten, maybe fifteen years, come-on Bill. Do you really think this changes anything.’

It was sad farewells when they spoke their goodbyes and then walked slowly from the cottage. The rain clouds had now cleared, and yet, Charles swung off to the right, away from the path that would take them back to their parked car, instead he held onto Esme’s arm quite firmly and headed in the direction of the old manor house ruins.

‘Why are we doing this’ she asked.

‘Well, I don’t wish to involve our dear friends any further and before we return to London I want us both to take one last gander at this ruined manor house… Surely, you don’t mind.’

‘Of course not!’ Esme’s face was suddenly lit with enthusiasm ‘I just love your sense of adventure. That thrill of the unexpected. I always get that high with you.’

Well, perhaps it’s just the way we are. That’s what makes us both tick. But don’t get off on a roller coaster Esme. This could be just another lost cause.’

‘I don’t think so.’ There was a mischievous look to her eyes. ’Tobias and Barnaby have much to do with our lives. More than we’ve yet to realize. I feel, it involves the way we think. I believe, this adventure is for all four of us, and there is more yet to come.’

‘Esme, My love, I think you are absolutely right.’

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Snap Around…

You know, getting out and about in an English Autumn is very special to me. I can almost taste those wild fruited berries and falling golden leaves. It’s a time to reflect on the warmth of past summer months and it’s a time to plan ahead for the coming winter. It’s a time of sensible shoes from the back of the wardrobe, and it’s a time to shake out that heavier jacket stored there since last March. It’s a time to feed the small creatures in my garden with more than their summer ration, and above all, it’s a time when family and friends brace together and form a circle of one…

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The shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 55… Disappointment

It was raining very heavily that following morning. Bill said he wanted to finish off a landscape and Margarita felt there was plenty to do in the kitchen, so donning raincoats and weather proof hats the two of them set off in the direction of the old manor house.

‘What are we looking for?’ inquired Esme, as they made their way up a long steep gulley. The wind and rain down drafted along this pathway and progress was slow.

‘I don’t really know.’ he replied. The rain stung their faces unceasingly, ‘Anything that is not how it should be, I guess.’

At last they arrived. Everything seemed as they had both seen it for the first time. Stonework was crumbling and nature had taken back her heritage in every way. It was possible of course to follow the ruined outlines of the old house and also to determine the structured remains of fallen rooms.

‘There must be cellars’ declared Charles, ‘A house of this size would have cellars. Perhaps, undisturbed for years. I doubt the fire would have reached below ground level and this could reveal some insight into how life was during the heyday of the house. We must find an entrance, it will be somewhere near to the servants quarters.’

‘This could have been the servants kitchen?’ Esme stepped into a structure that was wide, long, much toward the rear of the house. ’This would be referred to as “below stairs” of course.’ she told herself.

‘Look for remains of stone steps down or even a steel trapdoor in the floor.’ called Charles. ‘At the very least, there would have to be a wine cellar!’

‘That’s impossible. The floor is strewn with scattered debris, not counting the fallen bricks and masonry. Perhaps, Rebecca Haig did not drink?’

‘Well maybe, but her guests would have. Just try to find something, anything that may give us a lead to what lies below. I’m sure there would be more than just wine bottles below. The Family and for that matter, the staff, would put items down there that were seldom used. The Butler would then hold the keys to the wine cellar. Determination sat within Charles mind. He smiled to her. She had always been the keeper of his enthusiasm.

‘I know Charles. We learnt at Prep School, just how the British aristocracy behaved. It was one of Miss Ferguson’s pet subjects when it came to modern history lessons!’

The rain began to ease and a sparkle of sunshine began to break through those darkened clouds. ‘Well, I hope that’s a good sign.’ remarked Charles. They removed their raincoats and hats, then threw them over a low wall. ’They might even dry a little.’ he said with a chuckle.

A search of this supposed servants hall revealed nothing and after an hour of trying to clear the floor Charles called a halt to their labours. ’I think we are looking in the wrong place.’ he declared. ’It’s no good, this can’t be right.’ He looked very despondent, clearly wishing they had found some clue or other to the cellars.

‘Let me come here alone, at another time.’ suggested Esme. ‘Perhaps, that’s the only way we can be involved in this. Perhaps, Rebecca will talk to me again, hopefully.’

‘Well, she hasn’t talked to either of us today that’s for sure. She has got to be the key to all this or we are just off our chumps.’

‘You know. I’m sure we are right about this, we are both rational people. Bill and Margarita, well maybe they have a different take on this. Frankly. I’m not even sure what their views are on this. Perhaps I can tune into this supernatural phenomena where others can’t. It seems we both can’t do that together. Let me try and explore here alone once more and then tell you of the images that form in my mind from my experience.’

‘Ok, if you have this gift Esme, and I accept that you do. Then, I insist on you taking every precaution. I will not run the risk of losing you to some aspectual entity.’ There was  a serious look in his face.

‘Look Charles, what could possibly happen to me up here. You can see the place is a ruin. Nobody really lives here anymore. It’s got to be simply a case of over-imagination.’

He felt there was not much reassurance in her words, but he would agree. He also felt the outcome could be quite different from that imagined, just here and now…

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Snap Around…

There are times when taking in your local antiquity market can be a real surprise, like this one in Spitalfields. Now I don’t spend the time here that I would like to, so this visit became a real eye feast. The guys here offer the buyer just around everything that you’ve never imagined. From out of date publications, typewriters long forgotten, jewellery that only the brave would wear, to stuffed animals and full size human skeletons from medical research institutions; I’m assured. It’s a wonderful bric-a brac of British life and our celebrated history that can only be attributed to these wonderful Isles.

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Snap Around…

You know, there are times when your left eye catches something that your right eye was not covering. Like suddenly stumbling on this guy trying to put across his point of view on Speaker’s Corner. I always say, if you got something to say, someone should listen, anyway it’s pretty real to get it off your chest…

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 54… Consolidation

Those words of Charles that were said downstairs revolved around in Esme’s head. She sat on the edge of the bed in their little room and pondered. “Surely, Charles did not really mean what he was saying. This was not him. It couldn’t be him. She knew him. He would never offer those sort of views and yet now, he was saying goodnight to the Porrit’s downstairs and would be here soon. She would say nothing, that was decided in her mind. His footsteps were heard now on the narrow staircase leading to their room, he would be here in moments, loving and always protective for her as ever. There should be no reason to doubt him…Non at all!”

He quietly entered the room making sure his entry would not disturb her and was slightly surprised to find her awake. He moved over to her and gently kissed her on the check. ‘Do you mind if we stay a little longer here with the Porrit’s?’ he asked softly.’

Somehow her eyes were suddenly full of warmth and her smile did not portray those earlier thoughts. She braved her words and looking into his concerning face said: ‘Of course I don’t mind. I rather like being here with you and being away from London for a while, and I just love Bill and Margarita. They have made us so very welcome.’

‘Then it’s settled my princess. When you want to return. We shall!’ Charles was aglow and seemingly settled in his own mind. And for the present Esme felt this moral comprise was perhaps the best solution. She had for the present, no particular desire to return to London. She wanted more time. More time to unravel this peculiar world of dreams and reality. And more than ever, that driving force that made her part of it.”

She thought of Charles and his dedication to her through those terrible times in her past, his support and determination to be with her was unending. Whatever, his thoughts and determinations were now, she had to be there for him, and him alone. There was no question of her unfailing love for him.

‘We could go back up to the ruins in the morning, if you want to, and try to make an understanding of all of this.’ She knew now that this would be the only way to repay his loyalty and love for her. ‘We are in this together’ she added, ’Both you and I.’

‘Yes, we are, my love, to the bitter end!’

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Snap Around…

You know, looking back through my drawer of memories, there were times when I was asked to photograph in some strange and unusual places, like this eerie Dry Dock in the Jarrow Dockyards, and of course, special permission had to be sought on this occasion. Well, this I had, and now, it was just me, my camera and this huge hunk of tonnage! If the day ever arrives when you feel you are the most significant thing on this planet, forget it! You’ve only got to stand and face this magnificent beast…

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Snap Around…

Sometimes you just go to a drawer and pull out those old memories. You look at the picture in front of you and soak yourself with the days of camera film and splashing around in a darkened room with trays of photo developer and fix. This shot was borne of that era. That one moment when everything in your view just comes together for a great shot. I guess I’m very lucky in my life to have been able to bridge two different world’s of still photography and because today’s digital revolution is truly spellbinding.

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 53… A Concerning Time

‘That’s truly incredible.’ stated Bill. He looked quite astonished at Charles. ‘Are you telling me that your friend e’r… Tobias is behind all of this. I just really can’t believe it. Because this Rebecca Haigh business and visions nonsense has been going on for years in village gossip.’

‘No Bill. I’m not saying that. Somehow, we have all become part of this, and that, somehow Tobias can tune into this fantasy world in such ways that can effect our thoughts and what we think we see. I’m scared for all of us and for what we now are beginning to understand and for where it will take us. I just don’t feel there is a way out. There can be no running away. This strange world will inhibit each and every one of us. I’m certain of it!’

‘What you are saying Charles. declared Esme. Tobias is really here and that these are tricks he can play in our minds?’ she looked at him for some reassurance.

‘Maybe, I just don’t know. If he is here, he could be just tuning into local superstition. But for what reason I can’t imagine.’ He looked thoughtfully at the others. ’Perhaps, it’s all just nonsense in our heads. This house of ruins must surely evoke the wildest of imaginations in everyone, and really, there is no harm done.’

‘Come on Charlie. Now you’re talking sense, there is no point in upsetting ourselves’ stated Bill, who then presented a somewhat comically distorted face.

‘Well you are right Bill, of course. Perhaps I was talking about the supernatural in terms of the spirit of the soul. That the spirit lives on in a way and after death becomes an energy, a force in it’s own right. Not in any some creditable form that we take to be an apparition, but a spirit force able to move within a kind of blackness zone and yet, aware of surroundings and it’s actions. True, many people today believe in spiritualism and there are growing groups around the world devoted to these thoughts. There have been many documented funerals where mourners have felt the spirit of the soul rise up and leave the body of the departed. In fact, my mother was such a believer when at the time my grandmother was laid out in our front parlour. I’m sure the spirit or the soul, whatever name you want to give it lives on in each, and every one of us and that it never fades away. I’m certain there are many people in our mysterious world who can tune into this astral plain, like so many famous “mediums” whose predictions have prove to be correct. I feel that Toby, wittingly, or unwittingly is part of this gift to us and I think if a person has the ability to look forward into our futures and can see into our past’s… Then they have a proper understanding of our present.’

‘This is tall stuff and all very morbid Charlie.’ replied Bill. ‘I think we are scaring the girls.’ He took a glance at their concern faces. Lets keep away from the ruins and just forget about it?’

‘You are right Bill of course… And I feel sorry for the girls. But I don’t think it will be that simple. In fact, I don’t think it will be possible!’ answered Charles.

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