Saturday, November 26, 2011

Underneath the arches

click photo to enlarge
"Underneath the arches I dream my dreams away,
Underneath the arches, on cobblestones I lay"
 from the song (1931) by Reg Connelly(?) and Bud Flanagan

Everything we experience in the first twenty or so years of our existence is imprinted on us more strongly than most of our experiences in later life. People can usually remember a clear sequence of events and years relating to childhood and youth. But, unless momentous things happened, they struggle to differentiate the years of, say, their forties or fifties. These are often the times where a repetitive  pattern is established centred on work and leisure with fewer variations or "first" events of the kind that dominate our formative years. We tend to remember places we visited, people we met, books we read, songs we heard and much else from our youth far better than the equivalents of later years because so many are things that happened for the first time in our lives.

When I was a child my father would often sing songs, either to amuse himself or for the benefit of his children. They weren't usually contemporary songs but were those of his own childhood and youth. I didn't know it at the time but a couple of his favourites were songs made popular by the British singing and comedy act, Bud Flanagan (1896-1968) and Chesney Allen (1893-1982). The duo were at the peak of their fame just before and during the second world war. Songs such as "Run, Rabbit Run" and "We'll Smile Again" were hugely popular. The two I remember my father singing were "Underneath the Arches" and "The Umbrella Man". Though I remember the words of the second song better it's the first that always comes to mind when I walk through railway arches as I often do on my walks along the South Bank of the River Thames in London.

Today's photograph shows the pedestrian tunnel under the south end of Southwark Bridge. It is a popular spot for buskers, one of whom can be seen packing up at the end of his day, and it is one of a sequence of such arches and tunnels in this area. The brick arch is much as it was when first built. However, the ground has been resurfaced and repaired many times, and the walls now carry engraved slate murals of the medieval frost fairs that were held on the frozen River Thames. The very contrasty nature of the subject made me think that black and white would be a good treatment for the subject though it does make the tunnel look a great deal gloomier and more sinister than it is.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2
Shutter Speed: 1/30
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On