Sound and vision blog

Sound and moving images from the British Library

Introduction

Discover more about the British Library's 6 million sound recordings and the access we provide to thousands of moving images. Comments and feedback are welcomed. Read more

16 May 2022

Recording of the week: On climbing mountains - a woman's view

This week’s selection comes from Giulia Baldorilli, Sound and Vision Reference Specialist.

Woman wearing a long sleeved black shirt, trousers, and a climbing harness with gear attached, climbing an outdoor rock facePhoto by Cade Prior via Unsplash

In this oral history interview, Jean Drummond looks back at the times when she used to rock climb as part of the Pinnacle Club, a UK based club of women climbers that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021.

Jean Drummond describes changes to climbing [BL REF C1876/24]

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I was quite intrigued to listen to a recount of a climbing experience from a woman’s point of view.

Jean describes climbing as a social practice as well as an exercise; climbing requires a partner, and she (almost annoyingly) tells how her body doesn’t allow her to be the leading companion anymore.

Jean describes the technical components of climbing these days, starting from the climbing gear, which became more practical and easy to buy as shops to buy equipment from multiplied.

She admires the scientific aspects of this change, although there is a nostalgic nuance in the admission that it is not the sport she used to love. Perhaps the adventure side has been lost with the proliferation of climbing walls, very much a different experience of being out there, in nature.

She describes climbing nowadays as something more similar to gymnastics, while recalling memories of when she saw mountains as her friend. This summarises in one simple image the core essence of the discipline: the challenge of reaching the top, a sense of accomplishment that accompanies the final step.

On a personal note, climbing could be a metaphorical wall, a way to push our limits; it helps with being centred in the present moment, and gives a sense of reward when reaching the top.

With self-motivation, mountains can be our friends, a genuine escape from our inner fears.

Follow @BL_OralHistory and @soundarchive for all the latest news.

09 May 2022

Recording of the week: From potato market to sound archive

This week's selection comes from Myriam Fellous-Sigrist, Data Protection and Rights Clearance Officer.

Fruit, vegetable and cut flower lorries are unloaded inside Covent Garden market in 1940s London. Traders seen here include W Bailey Ltd and F A Secrett Ltd of Walton-on-Thames. The empty lorry in the foreground was in use by potato merchants.

Life in Wartime, Covent Garden Market. Photo credit: Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer, via Wikimedia Commons.

Some interviews make you travel far away, but some shine a light on the history of the building where you are sitting. Tom Arblaster was born in 1930 in Walsall (West Midlands) and was interviewed as part of the Oral History of the Post Office project in 2002. After working as a butcher’s boy at 12, a carpenter’s apprentice and piano factory worker, he joined the Post Office in London. In this recording he describes his work as a young postman in the King’s Cross area in the mid-1950s. In the following extract, he paints a vivid picture of the activities around the potato market, which was located where the current British Library building now stands.

Tom Arblaster on the potato market [BL REF C1007/53]

Download transcript.

In this fascinating 5 hour and 36 minute long interview, preserved by the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project, Tom Arblaster talks about his life before and after the Second World War. In particular, he describes the hostility and racism that he and his wife Ingeborg faced because she was German, and the love between them that helped them through financial hardship and social isolation. He recalls the joy of being given a modern, prefab council home, even if it came at a cost of working more than a thousand extra hours at the Post Office to afford the rent. At the time of the interview, he was still working part-time in the Almeida Street post office, a couple of miles away from the British Library.

Pink logo banner for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Follow @BL_OralHistory, @BLSoundHeritage and @soundarchive for all the latest news.

02 May 2022

Recording of the week: Have you heard a hedgehog huff?

This week's selection comes from Dr Madeline White, Curator of Oral History.

We all know what a hedgehog looks like: small, brown, covered in prickly spines, adorable by any measure. Few of us have seen one in the wild though, much less heard the noises they make. As nocturnal creatures who like to hide in the undergrowth they are already hard to spot, but their habitats are at risk from urbanisation and their numbers in the UK are in jeopardy.

Meet Hugo:

A photo of a hedgehog in the middle of the road, in the night. There are cars parked on driveways in the background.Photo credit: Madeline White

I took this photo outside my house in 2017. It was my third encounter with a hedgehog in the middle of the road in as many weeks. Each time I dutifully donned some gardening gloves and moved them out of the road into a bushy area close by. As delightful as the opportunity to see a hedgehog up close was, it was worrying that I was seeing them with such frequency in the middle of the road. A hedgehog can travel around a mile a night to find food and a mate. But as more people build walls and fences on the boundaries of their homes and gardens, the pathways that hedgehogs take between them are closed off, forcing them out of the safety of the garden and into the danger of the road.

This week is Hedgehog Awareness Week, a campaign run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society that highlights the problems hedgehogs face and what the public can do to help. One of the simplest actions we can take is to make ‘hedgehog highways’ in our fences to give hedgehogs like Hugo safe routes between gardens.

So have you ever heard a hedgehog huff? Perhaps not, but courtesy of the British Library Sound Archive, you can now. As you listen, I encourage you to think of ways you can help the hedgehogs where you live:

Hedgehog [BL REF W1CDR0001374 BD1]

Cute, right?

Follow @CherylTipp and @soundarchive for all the latest news.