Sunday, 14 February 2016


The young lady rubbing her eye at the beginning, how old is she? I find it difficult to tell with people from another and increasingly distant age. Dress, mannerisms, too many missing clues for me. Certainly not old is the best I can manage.

People were different, perhaps more so than we generally realise. Not so much the boys playing in the water, but the adults going about their daily lives.

Different. Easy enough to list the differences from nutrition to health to knowledge and expectations, but not so easy to get under the skin of cultural subtleties. Attitudes, some narrower, some wider. Freedoms, some narrower some wider.

As time goes by and one culture slowly morphs into another we seem to gain and lose. Perhaps this is why over many centuries older people have tended to see decline rather than change, the losses rather than the gains.

Decline may be real enough but may not be the most important aspect of cultural change. Or it may be by far the most important. We can’t easily tell until we arrive and then it’s too late.


Sackerson said...

Wonderful, so clear. And yes, we can't see the evolution. And if 1904 seems alien, how much more so earlier times.

Sam Vega said...

Beautiful little clip. I initially thought that the girl was very young (17?) and think on reflection that my initial guess may well be right. No grey hair, and I think everyone would have aged a lot faster then. My wife pointed out that she could be anything between 17 and 40, and that you could say that about a lot of women who make brief appearances in modern video clips.

There is one distinctly modern touch. About 40 seconds in, there is a superb example of a Jack-the-Lad or wise-arse. It could be that this type of bloke is timeless, and that pushy preening self-advertisers would have been lounging around outside the Acropolis, in coffee-houses, and bragging about their role in the Peterloo riots.

Woodsy42 said...

I wonder if trying to determine biological age is really relevent because it probably meant different things back then, with people having a very different attitude to what a particular biological age meant.
There are obvious health differences, especially for working people. Also people left education (if they had some) at a much earlier age and many were working full time by the time they were in their teens The allowable age for marriage was increased to 16 around then. With lower life expectancy and poorer health many people would have responsibility for ageing and infirm parents at a much younger age than is normal Being 'middle aged' as defined by health and responsibilities would have been at a much youger age than now.
So your young woman may well have been only mid 20s, but may have been working or bringing up children for 10 years and looking after ailing parents and be more equivalent biologically and emotionally, to someone many years older.

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts occur, how chaotic it looked and how poor communication between the old and the young seems. Which made me think just how little we help our families along, they more or less start from scratch at every generation except for the wealthy. I tried three of the clips - all very interesting - thanks.

wiggiatlarge said...

The Petticoat Lane clip was interesting for as a child it was not a million miles away from being just like that.
Itt contained many clothing stalls of the same ilk and the "sellers" who would have large crowds gather to watch their orchestrated pitch.
And you also had the the entertainment, with the escapologist being the favorite escaping from his chains and padlocks, the find the pea con men and Prince "I gotta horse" Monolulu, it does indeed seem a long time ago, better, worse, who knows it was of it's time.

Demetrius said...

Ah, and what a lovely steam engine. In the 1940's it had changed somewhat but still had strong similarities. Looking at the other options at the finish was interesting as well. As for the "Titanic", my grandfather worked on the "Olympic" sister ship as one of the decorators finishing it for completion. Just as well he wasn't on the "Titanic" because when that sailed some of the decorators were still on it with a few jobs left to do.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - imagine Nelson and Wellington on film. Over the next century, these clips will become equivalent to that.

Sam - I think she may be young too, possibly in her teens. Jack-the-Lad with the hat and mustache? I wonder how ancient the type is?

Woodsy - yes the age difference crops up frequently in novels. I'm reading Turganev at the moment where a chap of thirty five feels as if life is behind him and people in their fifties are regarded as old and on the verge of decrepitude.

Roger - it isn't easy to help though. Offspring want to make their own way in life. I know we did and would refuse offers of assistance. It's similar with experience, we have to feel the knocks before we take them seriously.

Wiggia - it reminds me of an old market on Cockpit Hill in Derby where a guy called Mad Harry used to sell cheap boots and shoes. He would sell a single stocking to women who had a ladder in one of theirs but couldn't afford to buy the pair.

Demetrius - painting the lifeboats?

Derek said...

If 1904 appears alien to us, (they don't to me - my Father was born in 1905) how would we appear to folk of 1904?

A K Haart said...

Derek - I'm sure men would seem very strange indeed, but as for women...