A LITTLE boy entranced by a jolly street performer with his simple wooden Punch and Judy puppets and twirly moustache; the broad grin on a grimy-faced apprentice, subjected – with raucous good humour – to a traditional workplace rite of passage . . .
And the bizarre – and perhaps just a little perilous – spectacle of ski-jumping off wooden scaffolding layered with some imported snow in front of spectators wearing sensible woollen coats and chiffon headscarves.
Each picture frozen in time by the keen eye of a photographer and the click of the camera’s shutter, bringing to life a flavour of times gone by when life was an altogether simpler affair.
These fascinating images are among a dozen carefully selected from the Evening News’ own extensive photographic archives to create our latest exclusive Living Memories calendar.
Every unique black and white image depicts a slice of Edinburgh life – whether at work or at play – long gone, yet for many of us still just a memory away.
For anyone who lived through times when laundry days meant trudging across cobbled streets carrying your whites in a tin basin – or, better, pushed along on an old pram chassis – or who can remember times when the West End offered a remarkably car-free and undisturbed picturesque view of the Castle, the 2012 calendar provides a reminder of the way we once were.
For those too young to recall Portobello beach, crowded with families in knitted swimwear or days when Onion Johnnies would arrive from France laden with supplies that they’d string together, pack on to their bikes and then cycle from street to street selling, the images are a vivid peek at an era not so long ago, well before lives were transformed by computers, iPhones and the march of modern technology.
The Evening News’ calendars have been a massive success since first published five years ago, and for many families dispersed to far-flung corners of the globe, the calendars are an annual tradition – a delightful reminder of the home they left behind.
In fact, the Living Memories calendars have proved so popular that the range on offer has just been extended to include a Scotland-wide version of nostalgic images and, as a one-off to mark next year’s Diamond Jubilee, a special Royal Living Memories calendar featuring rarely seen images of the Queen during past Scottish visits.
They are in addition to the hugely popular Scotsman colour wall calendars, which feature stunning scenes of Scottish landscape in all its dazzling glory, and which find their way into at least 14,000 homes around the world every January. And compiling the calendars – whether it’s quirky old black and white images from the archives or glossy digital colour scenes snapped in full vibrant colour – takes nearly as long as a typical calendar’s full 12 months’ lifespan. “We begin in September, working a year in advance,” explains Sarah Carter, calendars manager at the Evening News and The Scotsman’s Holyrood Road offices. “Just compiling The Scotsman calendar involves going through around 5000 images, many submitted by readers.
“For the Living Memories calendars, there are thousands of archive pictures to be looked at until eventually we decide on the best mix of images. It’s not as simple as just picking a nice image and using it.”
Indeed, for The Scotsman calendars, each photo is scrutinised to ensure it not only looks perfect but matches a particular season of the year and reflects a good cross-section of Scottish scenes. “You don’t want too many castles, or beaches or hills,” she adds. “And it’s nice to have images from up and down the country.”
For the Living Memories calendars, staff plough through decades-old archive images seeking photographs that show Edinburgh in all its diverse, old-fashioned glory, at work, at play and relaxing.
This year, the challenge of having the calendars ready to go to trade shows and retailers by February in time for going on sale now was made tougher by the two new additions to the range. While the royal calendar is an exclusive one-off, the Scotland Living Memories version is expected to remain as a permanent feature in the calendar range for years to come.
“We wanted to create a special calendar just for the jubilee,” says Sarah. “What was interesting is that there weren’t that many royal images to choose from. Unlike these days when the royal family is followed everywhere by cameras, in times gone by there were obviously far fewer photographs taken.”
The changing attitudes are even reflected in some of the royal calendar’s images; one shows the Queen and Princess Anne relaxed and walking their corgis near the Palace of Holyroodhouse and another shows Her Majesty strolling down a cobbled lane – barely a security man in sight – flanked by excited schoolchildren.
Each year, thousands of calendars make their way around the world – to Scots yearning for a daily reminder of the place they left behind. Closer to home, thousands more end up playing a vital component in keeping abreast of our daily schedules which even the smartest of smart phone with all its bells, beeps and flashing signals surely can’t replace.
Never mind the fascinating images and the space to jot down your reminders . . . nailing a smart phone to the wall just wouldn’t be the same.
TAKE YOUR PICK
Living Memories Calendars are £5.99, The Scotsman colour wall calendar, £6.99. For full details of all calendars and Scotsman gifts visit www.calendar.scotsman.com.