Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Deckchair (for Bagpuss?)

An iconic symbol of traditional British seaside resorts, the chair in this photo was nowhere near a beach – it was for sale on a stall with a wide array of memorabilia and brik-a-brak.

I like to look at stalls and shops selling this sort of stuff. Occasionally they’ll have something I’m interested in purchasing (camera gear probably), but they are also a treasure trove of nostalgia and unknown stories. Wher did this deckchair come from for instance? Was it taken from a seaside beach at some point, or was it purposely bought for someone’s garden, or perhaps to take on days out so the cost and hassle of hiring a chair might be avoided? Similarly the Bahamas calendar hung up beside it? Who bought it? When did they travel there? How did it end up on this stall? (although I fear I know the answer in most cases…).

Often you will find children’s toys, whether abandoned as they grow out of them, or perhaps lost, like something from a Toy Story movie. Sometimes things that you might expect no-one would buy, such as the plastic radiotherapy mask that was also on this stall – whoever that belonged to, I hope they discarded it as part of a full recovery.

When I was a child I would watch Bagpuss on TV. For those unfamiliar with the show, it was a children’s programme about an antique shop owned by a girl named Emily. Within the shop were a number of children’s toys including stuffed animals, dolls, carved wooden bookends, a “marvellous, mechanical, mouse organ” and the eponymous Bagpuss himself, a pink and white saggy old cloth cat. In each episode, Emily would bring a lost item to the shop and the inhabitants would awaken (“When Bagpuss wakes up, all his friends wake up”!) and they would examine the item, someone would tell the charming tale of it’s history, and it would be mended (by the mice) and placed back in the shop window so that it’s owner might find it again. It was made by a British animation studion called Smallfilms who made a number of similarly nostalgic and charming shows. The creators of the shows were Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, both of whom are sadly no longer with us, but whom countless grown-up children carry a small fond part of in their memories.

Stalls such of this always remind me of Bagpuss a little.

A saggy cloth cat
Brings back memories of youth
Now I’m saggy too

Take a seat

Yashicamat 124G & Shaghai GP3. Lab developed in Xtol.

Taken on 4 September 2021

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