Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Shop Fronts


  1. The mysterious frosty opacity and ambiguously reflective invitation, made faux-elegant by the delicate cursive calligraphy, together with the satisfyingly affectless neutrality of the square-up frontal framing, render the picture of the Thebis Beauty and Holistic Centre an image upon which to sink deep, deep into... well, nothing at all.

    The absence of any memory of joy feels almost infectious.

  2. The first two shots of the butcher's have an air of Greece to them with their cheerful blue and white colors but there is something ambiguously ominous in the phrase "Quality Family Butchers." Might it be a Mafia front?

  3. Those are great! My favourite one is the Beauty and Holistic Centre, probably empty? I love the smokey windows there. And ooh, are those my initials engraved on the walls of the butcher's? :-)) made me smile...

  4. But hold on a bit, isn't that what they're charging the poor bullet-riddled Boston kid with, possessing and operating WMs??

    Those meat shop shots are a fine reminder of the historical ignominy in which our godly species has been trapped since the invention of dining. The generations linked by the pork links and the beef burgers, brushing away the entangling cobwebs of Time with thick gravy-splattered paws. To consume the flesh of one's fellow creatures is fine and good, the Fine and Good Book Sayeth. That's why they were put here, after all, innit?

    One can easily imagine the grunting and snorting of the fur-clad Middle-Earth brutes gnawing away upon the meatbones, the bubbling saliva dripping from the mutton chops & c.

    (Man the Killer only thought to invent the napkin late on, I believe.)

    Ay, history tells that since time immemorial it has been possible to extract a goodly sum for pork bits from the simple villagers of Warley. All two of them. Not to mention the two slaves. The Lord Alward (1066), followed by the Lord Alfheim (1086), and so on down the inheritance line... all the generations linked by an insatiable taste for animal flesh. It's said they even et their own plough-teams, when the animals dropped over from exhaustion -- to put a fine point on it.

    'Tis writ in The Domesday Book.

  5. Thebis has been closed down for as long as I've passed the place. Clearly, there's not much call for holistic services in Warley. Holistic: one of those words emptied out a little more each time it shows up in the world.

    What I like with all of these front is that they're free from the marketeer's touch. They all have a feel that's bound up with the place. It's the beginning of the Black Country - Birmingham ends only a hundred or so yards from where these shots were taken.

    Vassilis, there's now a corner of Warley that is for ever Greece in my mind (though Lord only knows the kind of flesh their cleavers have cut through.

    The Homo Necans post brings to mind another butcher's sign on the Stratford Road: Home Killed Meat. While I'm now vegetarian, I have to admit that every time I pass such a window, I eye up every cut and think about how it'd cook up. The taste for blood has stayed.

    I can see Lord Alfheim tucking into his scratchings while overseeing the slaves.

    I'm glad you liked the photos, Marie. Coming from somebody who properly knows their way about a camera, this means a lot. Those initials are a lovely and unnecessary touch, I think.

  6. Yes, the semantics of adverts -- even, or maybe especially, in down-market circumstances like these, where gloss and camouflage are always relatively less in evidence -- so often reveals more than might have been intended. I think of the second image here. And of course there is probably, in practise, little distance between a term like "holistics" and, for example, the more honest term "snake oil". The Placebo Effect is doubtless today's cheapjack substitute for the the anachronistic virtues of Faith and Hope.

    Must admit that proximity to a butcher's business has never excited in me a taste for animal flesh. Perhaps it's the indelible memory of being brought up in the shadow of (and this includes working close by) this bloody place.

    And too, though the heritage of Descartes' confident assumption that, unlike humans, "animals are machines", has provided a convenient basis for all manner of abuse and slaughter, it's difficult, what with the evidence, to accept the idea that humans are necessarily prettier, smarter, or less worthy of "humane" consideration and sympathy, than fellow creatures like these. (After all, they could not be abused and slaughtered as they are without the use of, yes, machines.)

  7. Thinking about what may lie behind those storefronts (esp. the full frontals, images #1-3, 9, 10 & 13), I am put in mind of this scene... the great Tim Spall stealing the show... in perhaps the one approximately cheerful movie Mike Leigh ever made.

    It's north London not Brum, but still, the establishing shot at the start of the scene suggests something of what used to be called "the universal".

    Aubrey's Restaurant (Regret Rien) from Life is Sweet, 1987

  8. With the Sullen Beauty Supply Center, the magician shows his hand alright.

    The scale of the stockyards is monstrous. When I cycled into town as a child the route would take me by a long run of Halal abbatoirs. I can remember the stench of fear; the street was awash with it. Trucks would pull up and you knew the creatures had some sense that this was an awful place. You could see them shivering through the slats.

    Tim Spall and Mike Leigh always work magic together. Liver in Lager was the signature dish as I recall.

  9. The psychological processes of abstraction and distancing which enable such divers forms of technological cruelty as drone missile strikes and animal experimentation also include the "modern", "humane", "clean" techniques of slaughter. The Captive Bolt Gun, used on humans in that Oscar-winning paean to extreme violence No Country for Old Men, was of course invented as a Final Solution to the nagging problem of how to do away with animals while causing the minimum bother to the killers. A bit of research into the development and deployment of this technology proved chilling.

    Good (Captive Bolt Stunning)

    And by the by, I did learn something when I looked more closely, through the shadows, into the Sullen Beauty Supply Center.

    There was the initial discovery that "Sullen Beauty" is a contemporary "polite" code term for female sexual dissatisfaction.

    Sullen Beauty

    But just to be certain, I scratched-about a bit in the domain-name files and found out that, lo, that business pictured in the photo was owned and operated by a man named... yes... Sullen.

    (A good thing his name wasn't, for example, Nott.)

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  11. Thanks for sharing your blog. I like all the shopfronts.
    I have a company where we design and install all types of glass shop fronts