The Hotspur, October 1944. “GOOD-BYE, DEAD-WIDE DICK!”
Two accidental forays into surrealism by British boys’ paper The Hotspur, which amazingly lasted until 1981. I say amazingly, although on the other hand there were lots of British colonial era things that inexplicably carried on into the 1980s and beyond. Not to mention that The Hotspur‘s first issue had on its cover a plane-sized eagle attacking an actual aeroplane, and came with a free “Black Cloth mask” for no immediately apparent reason, so they definitely started as they meant to go on.
The cover above is almost certainly not referring to the fact that this football player has a feature likely to make him popular with the ladies and about 10% of the gentlemen, but instead that he scores goals by kicking unexpectedly wide. As for how and why somebody decided to counter this tactic by installing a gung ho bipedal elephant in football kit… I’ve got nothing. Dick’s certainly surprised, as you would be.
Perhaps it was the same genius who decided to deploy their centre-forward on the roof of a nearby building instead of on the pitch?
The Hotspur, January 1943. THE ROOF-TOP CENTRE-FORWARD.
Control panel and plugboards of the British Colossus computer, 1944. It was not programmable, had 2500 vacuum tubes, and it had only one hardwired purpose and algorithm: to crack the encryption of Germany’s Enigma machines, processing up to 5000 characters per second. Based on the work of mathematicians and cryptographers such as Alan Turing at the top secret Bletchley Park facility, the ability to break German codes was one of the factors that eventually turned the Second World War in favour of the Allies.
Another notable thing about this photograph is the strangely timeless/time traveller style of the woman on the left. I think she could walk down the street anywhere in the developed world at any time between about 1930 and 2030 and look like she belongs there.
Francesco Carancini, Italy, circa 1890s?
As psychic powers or ways of communicating with spirits go, being able to lift living room furniture a few feet off the ground in the dark has to be one of the more useless and absurd. And yet it was a thing that persisted in the repertoire of mediums for several decades. I’ve mainly been enjoying these pictures as exercises in domestic surrealism rather than as documentation of unknown powers. They’re from a (long out of print, 1981) book called Photographs of the Unknown, which seems to be associated– although not by name– with Fortean Times. In the photo above I like the fact that couple on the right are gripping each other’s hand apprehensively while the fellow on the left is still nonchalantly puffing away on his cigarette. The position of his left hand suggests slight annoyance that his ashtray has just been whisked away telekinetically. Continue Reading