February Photo challenge: 2nd Feb, Words

2nd Feb:  Words

I found this photo in the war album.  I had to play with the levels because the words were barely visible in the original 2″ x 3″ photo, and I was amazed when I darkened it and saw what was written on this huge sign.  It’s derived from Winston Churchill’s London broadcast on 22nd June 1941, following Germany’s invasion of Russia.

I don’t know where this building is, though it’s probably in north Africa.  The album contains photos taken in 1941/42.

We shall never negotiate; light adjusted

Here’s the original photo, untouched-up:

We shall never negotiate; original photo
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2012 Launched

For a couple of years I’ve had a small copy of this painting on my wall.  It reminds me of one of the photo challenges for January:  Launch.  On this last day of January, I want to show it to you.  It’s a blogging analogy.  On 1st January I started this blog, lifting off in colourful company.  Some float with me, some observe from solid ground.

René Jean Le Moine, ‘Chateau de la Muette’, 1783

 

The hot air balloon launched at the Chateau de la Muette was the first untethered manned flight.  It was invented by the Montgolfier brothers;  thus, in French, it’s called a montgolfière.  The painting above is part of the National Library collection here in Canberra.

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Hope

A few poems in the anthology are copies of other soldiers’ work.  Several are written by girlfriends and wives left back in Australia.  They always express hope that they’ll see their men again, as in these two verses:

  ‘The Blues’, author unknown
 ‘The Blues’, From an Australian Girl to her Soldier Boy, in Egypt
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366 unusual things: days 24-28

24th Jan – A visitor arrived at the Housing flats but, before getting out of his car, was assailed by a tenant spewing the loudest tirade of abuse yet heard in this street.  It was about money paid as maintenance for her 2 granddaughters – $50 a week.  Her vocabulary was quickly exhausted, so for about 10 minutes she repeated two obscene words several times in each sentence.

25th Jan – I noticed when I knock on a door gently to wake someone, only the knuckle of my middle finger does the knocking.

26th Jan – A manuscript appraiser suggested I break up my translated text using a dinkus.

It’s a tiny design dividing otherwise undivided text.  I like this one.

And below, here’s one in place.

Dinkus in  ‘Almost French’ by Sarah Turnbull

27th Jan – My breakfast-on-the-deck was better than usual:  I saw a possum curled up in a corner of the roof guttering.  Turned out she was hiding something…

A possum hiding something...
And then there were two!
Possums uncurled and stacked

28th Jan – As I drove onto the bridge to cross the lake, I had to slow for 15 horses and riders and a black and white sheepdog in my lane.

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Weekly photo challenge: hope

The wedding of an Australian General Hospital sister, approx. 1941.  The church is the Basilique Notre Dame d’Héliopolis, Cairo.  I’ve written a little about the church here, and included a photo of the whole structure.

The nurse probably worked at the hospital in Kantara (also El Qantarah and several other spellings), Egypt, close to the Suez Canal.  My father may have known her since he was a patient in this hospital, but he didn’t record her name.

A wedding in the middle of a war zone.  A triumph of hope over reality.

Wedding of Australian General Hospital sister, c1941, Egypt
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366 unusual things: days 19-23

19th Jan – A 19 year-old girl, just returned from 6 months abroad, told me her best moment was arriving in Istanbul at night and going into Hagia Sofia.  I thought of the unlikelihood of me knowing what this was, except I’ve studied art history.

20th Jan – A metallic violet Police ute drifted past me;  number plate:  RAPID 3.  Its black and white checked stripe followed the lines of the ute, the back end of the stripe dissipating in the wind speed.

21st Jan – A very British architect interviewed on radio said you have to tickle the boxes.  For 3 seconds I imagined how I would tickle a box, before I understood he’d said tick all like tick’ll.

22nd Jan – I was standing alone on the beach at 8.30 pm, the light almost gone.  An adolescent boy rolled onto the sand in an electric wheelchair.  For a few moments it was just him and me and the vast ocean.  He did a u-turn and went back to the park behind the beach.

23rd Jan – A distant relative rang after 9 years of silence and within seconds was asking me for help with French pronunciation.

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Weekly photo challenge: simple

In the album I found a few photos of Arabs snapped in the simplicity of their daily lives.  This one really narrows it down:  a shadeless desert, a man stopping to pray, a curious and patient camel.  Bowing over his mat in prayer, the Arab blocks out the Allied soldier behind the camera lens, and the complications of war.

Arab praying, North Africa, 1940s
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366 unusual things: days 14-18

14th Jan – I tried to tear up some poorly framed photos I’d had printed for 10 cents each.  How disappointed I was to feel the photos resist my cranky hands. The Kodak XtraLife II paper has a top layer of plastic that won’t be torn.  To destroy it, I had to go in search of a pair of scissors and then cut, cut, cut.  Where’s the satisfaction in that?  Tearing up a photo, especially of an unpleasant face, is one of the great pleasures in life.

15th Jan – Watched Gone with the Wind for the first time in 30 odd years.  In the hospital scene, some long dark shadows cast onto a wall didn’t move exactly as their owners did.  The shadows seemed to have been filmed and attached afterwards.

16th Jan – My husband uses an old wardrobe in the shed for tool storage, and the possum uses it as a hideaway:

Possum in the tool cupboard

Jan 17 – I received a letter from Germany in an envelope made from a paled scan of a letter I’d written myself.

Jan 18 – My lady butcher’s hands are red, like she’s had them deep inside an animal’s flesh.  But they are that colour even when clean.  I said, ‘Your hands have been working hard,’ and she said ‘Yes, I have ugly hands.’

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Peaceful

Like this week’s photo challenge, the following poem and its miniature illustration also have a peaceful theme.  My father was in the Middle East in 1941 thinking about the sun rising in his home country.  I give you the first of four stanzas.

From the anthology of Ron Bruce.  Poet unknown,  illustration by Ron Bruce 1941
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