20th May 2016 NAAFI Record Dept. Fontainebleau 1958 My Dad was the manager of the NAAFI shop in Fontainebleau, an area south of Paris which is also famous for its forest and Château. Not that long ago, most people I knew knew what the NAAFI was. Now they don‘t. It runs cafes, bars, clubs, and shops for servicemen and their families. It gets smaller every year. It‘s mentioned in most of the sentences that Spike Milligan wrote. I suspect that the word ‘naff‘, which is usually supposed to be borrowed from Polari, was popularised by service men who believed it was derived from NAAFI and who used it to describe everything that wasn’t as good as they felt it should have been – as I wrote that sentence I saw chagrin monopolise my Dad‘s expression. I know exactly which year these photographs were taken because I was born in it. I don’t have Fontainebleau on my passport however as the armed forces routinely flew expectant mothers back from France to Blighty for Caesarian births as the operation was expensive in French hospitals. So I was born in Mayday Hospital in Croydon like lots of other Bartons. It‘s the record shop I‘d most like to pop a couple of my records into the racks of. If only to tease my Dad who thought they were bloody horrible.
27th February 2016 Naughty students dropped this Henry Moore bronze into the pond of a Cambridge college one night in, I think, 1979. I am fairly sure he is a Fallen Warrior who has lost his shield. Swopping his pedestal for a pond has done wonders for the poor chap; placid pleasure being better than agony any old day. I keep wishing a loofah into that right hand.
10th February 2016 I can tell by it‘s rounded corners that this view is from the very end of the Seventies. I rarely passed it by without resting my chin on the top of the wall from which I took the photograph,and making small squeaks of appreciation. And I worked earnestly on a clumsy, canal-shaped poem in it‘s praise. Only the canal and the viaduct, which is listed, remains. The official proposal for the recent demolition of the building to the right of the canal asserted:
"When considering the structure as a whole, it is apparent that it is modest in terms of its size, scale and architectural style. Its overall appearance is utilitarian, although it does present some features of limited architectural interest: Although generally of red brick construction, there is some stone detailing to the openings (stone lintels/cills), cast iron guttering and a chimney stack. The building is now is a serious state of dilapidation, with partial collapse of the roof and semi-mature trees taking hold of the site. It is considered that this dereliction now negates any limited aesthetic value held by the building, with the effect that the entire site is an eyesore and harmful to its setting and surrounding street scene."