Life’s a Peach

Emma, usually known for her dislike of most people (and other dogs), decided she really liked Louis. By the end of his lunchtime visit, they were firm friends. He really didn’t want to say goodbye, and she was quite happy to be hugged. It was almost as if someone had given us another dog.

Louis was here for lunch with his mum, Natalie, dad, James and sister, Lily. And what a splendid lunch we had.

Clockwise: James, Lily, Mirinda, Natalie, Louis

Like Emma, it is rare for me to find someone on, almost, the same wavelength as me but I have to say, James comes very close. We share a love of obscure Russian literature, modern and generally inexplicable art, the theatre of Peter Brooks, etc. Of course, new friends are always allowed at least one fault, so I can forgive his strange obsession with Monet. Also, I should stress, professionally we couldn’t be more different.

Natalie I’ve met before (once) though she’s been to the house when I wasn’t there. She works with Mirinda and speaks a million languages. In fact, she and James speak to the kids in a combination of French and English which is, quite frankly, contagious. I found myself slipping into my own sadly lacking knowledge of French more than once.

The kids were wonderful. (Lily looked remarkably like a mini-Jess from New Girl.) They particularly loved my cheesy, hammy, puffy things, which I knocked up in the morning thinking the meal may be a little bit adult for them. Actually, while they loved the cheesy, hammy, puffy things, they also tried everything else on the menu. Natalie and James insist they try things before discounting them.

Of course, we also went for a walk to the park between the cheese and dessert. Fortunately, Natalie told a story which involved the incorrect placing of the cheese course during a formal meal. I had intended to serve cheese with tea/coffee after the pistachio cake. Obviously, I quickly shifted that around.

The walk in the park was particularly good because Lily and Louis were quite happy to throw the ball for Emma and Emma was equally happy for them to do it. This meant the adults could wander around chatting about various adult type things. It was nice to see quite a few other groups walking around, some with dogs but not exclusively.

Sadly, all too soon, they had to leave, because, like most families with small children, they had another couple of engagements to attend. Even so, they had to rearrange some times given they were having such a great time with us. At least that’s what I think.

Today, this happened

On October 10, 1876, Thomas Houseworth & Co produced a souvenir photograph of Jean Francois Gravelet Blondin. The photograph was a three quarter portrait of Blondin, the famous tightrope walker, and he was seated, facing left.

The souvenir photograph was very popular. Here’s one of General Grant from 1877, also taken by Houseworths.

The souvenir photograph was a wonderful way for photographers to make a bit of pin money. Obviously, early camera equipment was neither cheap nor portable enough for everyone to just have one. Or need one, really. The advent of digital photography and phones with cameras has changed all that, of course.

Photographers would go to exotic places, like Japan, where they would take a load of photos of places people would never visit. They would then sell them. Naturally, the photographs would have the photographers name on the back so return trade was always an option. They could also be called upon for more individual sessions.

But it wasn’t just landscapes, cities or places like the Taj Mahal which attracted a lot of interest. Celebrities became a big seller. Hollywood stars, American presidents, famous engineers, etc: the kind of people we now snap away at on our own.

And they didn’t precede postcards. Postcards predate the camera by quite a few years.

The popularity of souvenir photographs hasn’t waned. Now, in the age of the Internet, it’s so much easier to buy and sell some wonderful examples of them. Also, I think a lot of the world is harking back to a world that never existed and, for some reason, sepia gives the past a rosier glow than it ever really had.

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