Hooray for Harold Lloyd

28th June 2020

Harold Lloyd: Jazz Age Daredevil

In the early 1990s, I inherited an 8mm Bell & Howell cine camera and, with my flatmate Martin O’Shea as actor, began making short films in the East End of London.

Pacific Rim Camera Catalog
8mm cine camera late 1950s / early 1960s

We had a two-bedroom flat near Mile End Tube Station (which we could somehow afford on a student grant), walking distance to Bethnal Green, Brick Lane and Limehouse, areas synonymous with names such as Hawksmoore (the architect), The Kray Twins (local crime lords) and Jack the Ripper (local ripper).

St George in the East - Wikipedia
St George in the East, a Hawksmoore church

The area is incredibly historic, and well worth a walk for local historians, psychogeographists, or anyone with a passing interest in this less salubrious quarter of London.

The Ragged School Museum - East London - Britain's Decays Urbex
Ragged School Museum, Mile End

Walk is what we did, one Saturday night, up to Victoria Park, down to the street markets of Brick Lane and back home via the city farm at Stepney and a visit to St Dunstan and All Saints Church, where we had a lovely chat with the vicar. He was in his working outfit, white, pressed and clean … us, none of the above.

This was where we decided to film what was, I believe, our first film together, ‘A Day Well Spent’, and I think this would be Spring 1992.

St Dunstan and All Saints Church, Stepney, East London

Now the technical side. 8mm film lasted four minutes in total. The film had to be thread, in a figure 8 shape, in the camera, then reversed after 2 minutes. This meant keeping careful time, and not shooting anything vital in the dying seconds before the film ran out.

The film was silent and the camera, I believe, had no zoom and no auto-aperture; the light had to be set manually. Basically, it was a ‘point and shoot’ affair. Close-ups had to be physically close, long-shots, far away.

So, we had four minutes to tell a story, beginning, middle and end. Martin plays a tramp, a happy-go-lucky, Chaplinesque character. He awakes, on a rubbish heap, scratches himself, looks around and gets up. He wanders through the City farm at Stepney

Farmer's Paradise: an inside look at Stepney City Farm | City farm ...
Stepney City Farm
Stepney City Farm (London, England) - Đánh giá - Tripadvisor

Naturally, he’s hungry and seeing the chickens gives him an idea; he has to ‘procure’ an egg for breakfast, without being detected or suffering an avian assault. With his cunning and agility, he is successful, and celebrates his victory by holding his prize aloft as he runs past St Dunstan’s.

However, when he searches his pockets, he only has a fork with twisted prongs … not a suitable implement to eat his breakfast. Disappointed, he throws the egg away, and decides to go back to sleep.

We also had a recurring event, namely a visit from the rozzers (London slang for police). One burly boy in blue was curious what we ne’re-do-wells were up to in his manor. To see a young guy, in trenchcoat, asleep on a rubbish tip alerted his instincts. And we had a recurring escape, namely I showed my camera and all became clear … “Oh, they’re making art,” heavy irony on the pronunciation of ‘art’, and that sarcasm has repeated through the years.

Or maybe, like most people of my generation, he would have seen some short compilation films on BBC1 after 5.30 pm and before the 6.00 pm News. This was how so many of my friends were introduced to the world of Harold Lloyd.

Harold Lloyd - Wikipedia

Everyone knew Chaplin, most people had heard of Buster Keaton, but Mr Harold Lloyd was totally unknown. That all changed with a series of 20-minute programs featuring scenes from his silent films … and all my school-friends were knocked out by them. You would even hear people shout out as they left school, “Don’t forget to watch Harold Lloyd.”

Harold Lloyd | Biography, Movies, & Facts | Britannica
HAROLD LLOYD and JOHN AASEN in WHY WORRY? -1923-. Photograph by Album

Harold Lloyd, referred to as ‘The Third Genius’ was, and remains, a major influence, especially in how to tell a story by images alone and how comedy works. This photo from ‘Safety Last’ (1924) is iconic … and even more amazing when you know that Lloyd lost a thumb and finger in an accident on a film set.

His films and many clips are available on YouTube. I used to show them during break time to my Kindergarten class, and they loved him … I was able to silence 15 hyper-active kids with a silent movie star.

Happy Thanksgiving! Harold Lloyd in Hot Water (1924) | Nitrate Diva
Hot Water (1924): Harold Lloyd versus the Turkey on Make a GIF

Meanwhile, Mr O’Shea is busy in Berlin with a massive project: to put all our 8mm and Super 8 films onto computer, add commentaries and upload them on social media. Wish him luck, and take some time to watch Harold Lloyd … you won’t be disappointed

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: London – an architectural history

18th April 2020

This blog was suggested by a special student, Ms Ngoc – thank you for the idea.

Courses for Fall 2019: Topics in Architecture, Urban Screen ...

London is nearly 2 000 years old. It was founded by the Romans in about the year 50 (We say 50 AD or 50 CE), and the Romans built the first bridge across the River Thames.

The Romans built walls to protect the city, and parts of them can still be seen today:

London's Roman City Wall Walk

A very important date in the history of the UK is 1066 – the Battle of Hastings, when the Normans, from France, beat the English and became the rulers.

Very near the Roman wall in the first picture is the Tower of London, built by the Normans:

Tower of London, London - Book Tickets & Tours | GetYourGuide.com

The oldest part of the Tower was built in 1078, but it was continually expanded for the next three hundred years. The Crown Jewels are kept here:

Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom - Wikipedia

Moving onto the Medieval period, we have St Bartholomew the Great Church, from 1123:

St Bartholomew-the-Great - Wikipedia

This church was used in the famous British film ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’

Movie detail: four-weddings-and-a-funeral

One of the most famous kings was Henry VIII (married six times). His father, Henry VII started the Tudor dynasty (1485 – 1603). The last Tudor was Queen Elizabeth I and under her rule, England started to become a world power. Explorers went to the USA, while at home Shakespeare was writing and acting.

Rare survivors of The Great Fire of London: Tudor buildings in ...

This building, in the centre of London, is from the Tudor period.

St Andrew Undershaft

The church of St Andrew Undershaft, built 1520 – 1535 with modern Gherkin building in the background.

The Stuarts were the next dynasty, from 1603 – 1714. England had a civil war, and in 1649 King Charles 1 was executed. This took place at the Banqueting House.

SG3087-3093 2010 Kings & Queens House of Stuart Stamp Set
Banqueting House | Historic Royal Palaces
Banqueting House interior

The Kings and Queens lived here from 1530 – 1698. The famous ceiling is by the painter Peter Paul Rubens.

A very well-known pub, The Olde Cheshire Cheese, is also from the Stuart period.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese - Pub - visitlondon.com
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, London | Cheshire cheese, London, Travel spot

How would you like to have a drink here ? Many important writers such as Dr Johnson and Charles Dickens drank here.

Following the Stuarts, who came from Scotland, the Georgians from Germany became the monarch (king or queen). There is a lot of Georgian architecture surviving in London. Here are some examples:

London Architecture United Kingdom Bedford Square Georgian ...
Regent Street - Wikipedia
Regents Street, with many fine and expensive shops

One of the most famous, iconic London buildings is where the monarch now lives – Buckingham Palace

50 Fascinating Facts About Buckingham Palace | The Original Tour

Britain was the first industrial nation, and under Queen Victoria, expanded her empire, including Australia, Canada, parts of Africa and India. The British love tea, so this was an important import. This ship, the Cutty Sark, was built in 1869 and was one of the fastest ships in the world. It is now a museum.

File:The Cutty Sark 2005-01-24.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Warehouses had to be built next to the river to store all the goods from overseas. Some of these have been converted into modern offices or restaurants.

Shad Thames • This Victorian Warehouse District Is A Photogenic Street
Victorian warehouses. See the bridges connecting the buildings on the first and second floors
Leadenhall Market - Primera
Leadenhall Market as it looks today

However, life was extremely hard for many people at this time. Low wages, hard work and unhealthy living conditions made life in London a constant struggle for survival. This has been captured by the art of Gustav Dore, the social writing of Henry Mayhew and the novels of Charles Dickens

What was life like in Victorian London? How safe was it? Was it ...
CHARLES DICKENS LONDON Homeless And Hungry - Mini Poster - Stick ...
Homeless and hungry

By 1825, London had reached over one million people, and became the world’s most populated city for the next hundred years.

Now we start to get into the modern age. We see the arrival of motor vehicles, cars and buses.

Piccadilly Circus. London, England 1900-1920. Today, Picca… | Flickr
Selfridges, Oxford Street - Wikipedia
Selfridges department store

From 1939 – 1945, Britain was at war with Germany. London suffered heavy bombing. This famous picture shows St Paul’s Cathedral, covered in smoke, but undamaged.

The Blitz | World War II | Britannica

Society changed in the 1960s with new films, clothes, and of course, music. Carnaby Street became the place to go for clothes and to hang out and be seen.

A musical celebrates the Sixties heyday of swinging Carnaby Street ...
1960s carnaby street, london discovered by the 70s + 80s. 🏄🏼‍♀️

London Today

london, building and construction, architecture, city, modern ...

London is a mixture of architectural styles, reflecting the different historical periods. As you walk around, you can sense the spirit of the millions of people who went about their lives, just as we do.

Ethnic groups in London - Wikipedia

What buildings do you like most and can you tell me why

What time period appeals to you the most ?

Do you think you could live in London ?

Perfect buildings: the maths of modern architecture | plus.maths.org
Shakespeare's Globe Plans Simultaneous Outdoor Screenings on ...
The reconstructed Globe Theatre
London Flea Markets: Your Complete Guide to Brick Lane Flea Market
Brick Lane market, open Sundays
atelier 6 (week 13.11.2017): Multicultural society | Kirsten's ...
Exploring London's Neighbourhoods: The Multicultural | Strawberry ...