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Wooden Headed Follies

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary,  Saturday,  6th June 2009

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Punch and Judy
my sister Linda and I

Back to Llandudno in 1954 and I love the expression on my sister’s face as she watches the Punch and Judy show. I’m wondering whether I’ve got a pot of bubble-blowing kit in my hands, or a sherbet dip.

wedding cake
Marcel Banderkelen and wife
Professor Codman's Follies
Punch and Judy

I’VE BEEN scanning more of our old family photographs from the original 120 box camera negatives. Seeing them blown up on screen, I’m intrigued by background details, such as these cars (the first a Morris Oxford, I’m told) in Llandudno, North Wales, in 1954.

When I feed the negatives into the scanner and the pictures pop up, it’s a window on another world. This child’s bucket (left), from the same photograph as the cars, is an artefact which evokes those summer seaside holidays. Apologies for the blurring.


Another blurred photograph shows what my mum must be her wedding cake from the late 1940s.

I’d love to be able to pop back into the past for a few hours. There’s one photograph of one of my mum’s friends knitting in the shade of a small parasol by a formal garden pond. The detail that catches my eye is this magazine. The title seems to end ‘ife’ - but the word isn’t ‘Life’. ‘Wife’ perhaps. I’d like to pick it up and browse through it. What did magazines rattle on about in those days? Much the same as today, I guess.

Marcel Banderkelen

Finally, as today is the 65th anniversary of D-Day, do you know a veteran of World War II called Marcel Banderkelen? In the early years of the war he and another soldier friend escaped from occupied Belgium through occupied and unoccupied France via a secret network of helpers. They crossed the Pyrenees but were then interned for a year in one of General Franco’s prison camps, where his friend died, but, claiming he was heading for the Belgian Congo, he was eventually allowed to move on. With fellow Belgian servicemen, he headed for Gibraltar where they gave themselves up to the first British serviceman they met and volunteered for active service.


In Sheffield the authorities asked for volunteers who could speak French to act as hosts for the Belgians. My mum volunteered and ‘adopted’ Marcel. This photograph was taken by my mum’s garden pond but that’s not my mum in the picture; it’s the girl from Coventry who Marcel met and married during his stay and who, after the war, moved to Belgium with him.


My mum and I love to hear how Marcel and his wife got on after the war so if you’ve heard of him, please e-mail me.

Using the ‘transform’ control in Photoshop, I’ve been able to flatten out the oblique view of the panel on the front of the booth. The ornate carved surround of the stage looks Victorian. These booths traditionally had striped canvas awnings around them but the hardboard panels and the Donald Duck decoration brings this one right into the 1950s.