Growing up on 8mm
I started this thread a couple of years ago on the old Forum and maintained it for a while, but eventually let things slide, only sporadically adding further clips.
I thought I’d migrate it over here as, you never know who is twiddling their thumbs or has an interest in a particular time or place…
This thread is purely self-indulgent nostalgia, the video equivalent of being invited to have a look at someone’s holiday photographs.
I’ll aim to post one a week and see how I far I get…
Dad was the photographer in our family, but mum had an 8mm movie camera, which she used sporadically from the early 60’s till 1984. We used to have occasional movie nights when we were kids, but for decades the film was degenerating in a cupboard.
A couple of years ago, I had them all digitalised, sorted them chronologically and edited them down to digestible chunks.
Apart from the obvious reviving old memories, one of the most enjoyable aspects was trawling through the music folder on my pc, choosing appropriate soundtracks to put them to.
As Julie Andrews famously sang: ‘Let’s start at the very beginning- A very good place to start’
My Dad, Hans Larsen, was a visiting lecturer from Denmark in University College Dublin in 1960, where he met a young Irish lass at a dance. Romance ensued and she married the tall dark foreigner who whisked her off to Denmark for a year, before being posted to Beirut, Lebanon, where he worked in the Danish embassy till 1974.
This is their wedding movie, I presume taken by her uncle, as she didn’t have her camera yet.
They didn’t marry in her local church; the priest insisted they would have to have a dawn wedding because she was marrying a protestant and he didn’t want it witnessed by the congregation.
Some typical late 50’s fashion by the ladies here
I think Dad made quite a catch
The music is Suite De Pièce No.4 In D Minor for Keyboard, Handel: Sarabande
Dublin. Dec '63/Jan '64
My film debut, although you can’t actually see me!
I’m in my mum’s pregnant belly with mum, dad and my brother, Hans, watching the deer in the Phoenix park, then the Dublin mountains with dad and my aunt, and Stephen’s green with my grandfather and uncle.
It’s my actual birthday at the very end of the clip: 4 generations celebrating my arrival in the hospital, with hard liquor and cigars, of course. ;D
Music: ‘God bless the child’ by the gifted Irish singer Mary Coughlan
I spent the first 10 years of my life in Antelias, a small village, just north of Beirut.
This clip starts off with the view from the casino overlooking the coastline; then the Easter candle procession in our village with all the locals togged out in their Sunday best.
The second half is of my brother Hans and me picking flowers in the local forest.
You can see the beginning of my mother’s practice of dressing all her four boys Identically- A habit that continued till we went to university.
Sally in the Garden by Boiled in Lead
Pass it on by the Coral (Bill Ryder-Jones, the Coral guitarist, has his studio just down the road from me.)
The first half of this clip is driving through the desert (either Syria or Jordan) passing herds of camels and goats by the roadside.
The second half is visiting Baalbek in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon with my Irish grandparents (Gongi and Bomba), mum and dad and my older brother Hans.
Baalbek is the site of impressive ancient roman ruins and you can see the seating for impressive outdoor concerts that used to be held here. The large intact temple towards the end is to Bacchus, the six giant columns are the remains of the temple to Jupiter.
We had some lovely picnics here and fantastic games of cowboys and Indians amongst the ruins.
Music: Isefra by Idir
And then there were three
June ’65 saw the birth of Conor (RIP last November).
The clip begins with grandparents in the farmhouse living room followed by a walk in the fields-
(Our intrepid leader, the Rt. Honourable Theresa May, is not the only one to have naughtily romped in fields of wheat ;))
The Danish side of the family were predominantly farmers on Zealand and Funen, going back to the 17th century at least; so Dad should have known better than to let my brother and me flatten the harvest for a photo-op.
At least it was his farm.
Music: Music: The Rose with the Broken Neck by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi
Being one of four brothers each about a year and a half apart was a huge part of my growing up.
(My sister, the youngest by three years, brought a completely different flavour to family dynamics )
Hans and I shared a bedroom from birth till teenagers
We were in the same class in school and went to the same university.
We rented and bought our first house together.
We were best men at each other’s weddings.
He’d kill me if he knew I posted this and drew attention to his dance moves towards the end of the clip
Video: Balcony life with views over the bay of Beirut.
Music: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by the Hollies
My Danish grandparents (Farmor & Farfar) visiting us in Beirut.
Both came from a long line of farmers, going back to the 17th century at least.
Farfar became a professor in the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Copenhagen.
He was a member of the resistance and imprisoned twice during the German occupation in WWII.
After the war, he spent a lot of time and effort with AP Moller (founder of Maersk shipping) trying to get the border redrawn in South Schleswig.
Interesting sartorial differences between the locals and visiting Danes on the beach in the second half of the clip
Music: Sunrise, Sunset by from Cantors, A Faith in Music
For all the kids who grew up in the 60’s watching spaghetti westerns and playing cowboys & Indians and WWII war games
God only knows how I ended up a pacifist…
Music: A Fistful Of Dollars by Ennio Morricone
Unacceptable now of course, but half a century ago, zoo’s were primarily there for our entertainment.
Animal welfare was not that big a deal.
I have fond memories of days out at Dublin zoo, esp. when our grandfather took us, as he knew the zookeeper who would let us ride the baby elephant, wrap the snakes around our necks and stroke the lion cubs…
This clip features me and my big brother with our Irish uncles, along with some other animals
Music: East St. Louis Toodle-Oo by Steely Dan
I hadn’t planned on posting this one, as it’s a bit long with little happening, but recent events changed my mind.
Glen Aulin is the house in Dublin where my granny’s youngest sister, Phyllis, lived with her husband Sean. It was (and still is) one of the most hospitable homes I know. These are clips of some of my Phyllis’ siblings, their children and my great-grand mother (in the black hat).
I just came back from Phyllis’ funeral in Dublin two days ago. It was lovely to have the opportunity to say goodbye to my 95-year-old aunty one last time and give her a kiss on her forehead when she was laid out at home in her living room.
(Phyllis is the one blowing into the watering can at 1.40. I’m the chubby kid holding the bunny in the basket at the end)
Music: from the Sting soundtrack by Scott Joplin
Back to my Danish roots-
Yesterday was Denmark’s Constitution Day, as well as my brother Conor’s birthday.
Elections were held and the hard right were decimated, making way for a red coalition to lead the country
This is a buy 1 get 1 free clip (i.e. long)
Family get-together in my grandparent’s garden in Roskilde, about half an hour from the capital
I believe Dad’s cousin, Arne (handstands at 5.30 min), was the harbour master in Copenhagen port.
When I’m Old & Wise by Alan Parson’s Project,
Mockingbird by Barclay James Harvest
Appropriate clip today, as it’s lashing rain on Merseyside.
Three generations in family fun at the seaside, without even bucket or spade
My granny and her sister Phyllis (with the camera at the start) with their children and grandchildren.
(My mum in the yellow bathing suit)
Even Granddad joins in a game of ‘Leap frog’ at the end 8)
Music: Seaside Rendezvous by Queen
Back in the 60’s Irish air travel was a still special occasion.
I think this clip is from when the extended family went to Dublin airport to see off granddad’s sister, returning to her mission somewhere in Africa.
I hated those short brown uniform suits we were forced to wear!
Music: Rocket Man by Elton John and Goodbye by Mary Hopkins and Paul McCartney
Most people wouldn’t associate Beirut and the Middle East with skiing, but that’s where I caught the bug.
Our friends and neighbours, the Nicholas family, were founding members of the ski club of Lebanon and introduced us to the two areas Bakish and Fariah.
Dad had some basic experience from his youth when he had visited his cousins in Norway, but after getting our gear on and giving us his few nuggets of wisdom, we taught ourselves.
They were the days of wooden skis, lace-up leather boots, and round-the-heel wire bindings.
We all suffered from snow-blindness in the beginning, so shades were introduced.
Later, we became trend-setters, wearing motorcycle helmets to protect what would develop into our feeble minds.
The music on this one is a beautiful repetitive, gently building motif by Eluvium - Prelude for Time Feelers
Family outing to the Dublin mountains.
Ice creams and playing in a stream.
A bit of spontaneous Irish dancing by granddad and his brother-in-law at 1.40
Good wholesome stuff
The original soundtrack was Street Spirit by Radiohead, but blocked by Youtube.
Fingers of Love by Crowded House works is a reasonable second choice…
It feels like an appropriate time to pick up this thread.
It wasn’t a conscious decision to stop- I just got out of the habit (and maybe time…)
Anyway, after a recent collaboration with family and friends over in AVOYP (Summer Wine), a couple of people remarked on our pet Irish Wolfhound. I remembered one of Mum’s films from the same year featuring Glen in our garden and the forest at the bottom of our road.
It’s a bit of a chronological leap from the previous clips but maybe a good place start to see if I get back into posting a little more frequently.
Whilst editing these film clips, I was always conscious of the tension between using all the footage Mum had taken and cutting poor quality/boring footage to produce more interesting visual pieces.
I’m afraid the hoarder in me won out and, as I was making them primarily for myself and my family, I included almost all the footage she had taken.
A sumptuous soundtrack distracts from some of the less exciting moments
God, I loved that dog
The first half is (kinda boring) footage from my Danish grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary in Roskilde. I don’t know most of the people there.
I’m the younger on of the two kids in the ridiculous brown suits in the second shot. My Dad with the dark hair combed back and the ubiquitous cigar.
The second half is in filmed in their large front garden overlooking Roskilde Fjord.
It was taken the year before Farfar (Dad’s dad) died and I think it’s the only record of him with both his sons, their wives and all the grandchildren (apart from my sister who wasn’t born yet).
It’s a good example of how music can bring out the most in a visual sequence.
Michael Nyman is the master in this department
Richard mentioning that he’s off to see the Waterboys tonight reminded me of this crackin’ tune-
Hope you have great gig, Richard!
The footage is almost as shaky as Toby’s recent ride-out doc.
Who in their right mind dresses four boys in white jumpers for outdoor play? :
I had a good chat with Richard Naiff (played keyboards with the Waterboys, now with Icicle Works in my neck of the woods). His missus runs a B&B in Brighton where we stayed when visiting our son in college.
I lived in Beirut from ’64 - ’74, but every summer we would hitch up the caravan, drive to Ireland and spend two months on a campsite by the beach in County Wexford. Various members of the Dublin clan would often come down to visit.
This is spliced together from a couple of years.
Starts off with my half-year-old sister, my granny and mum’s cousin, Ritamary, who stayed with us in Lebanon for a year (or was it two?)
We finally bought a plot of land and built a bungalow on it (end scenes).
Dad is buried in the local village graveyard
Multigenerational simple fun.
David Gilmour sings “The grass was greener…” (It wasn’t really)
Cheers, David. The Floyd never disappoint
I went wholesale cheese on this one.
Not long after the Von Trapp family hit the silver screens, the Larsen clan (with mum’s cousin) took to the road again on their annual 12’000 km return caravan trip from Beirut to Dublin. (Two weeks each way)
Here we are on the home-stretch, passing through Maria country, and although the Von Trapp kids were more musical than us, at least our clothes weren’t made out of curtains
Music by… well, duh!
This is one of my favourite home movie clips (the first of three on this trip)
Half a century ago, there weren’t many European tourists in Kabul, let alone young women filming the locals, many of whom believed your soul could be captured on film…
Mum & Dad won a raffle prize of a trip to Kabul, Afghanistan, followed by a bus ride over the Khyber Pass to Peshawar, Pakistan.
I love the expressions of the locals in this clip, carrying out all sorts of trades: pig-skin water carriers, rifle-toting salesmen, photographers, street barbers, lads pulling stone laden carts…
Being good parents, they bought souvenirs for their four sons: an old Afghan flintlock rifle each, complete with firing mechanisms and curved stocks. We had great fun playing cowboys and Indians with them, even though they weighed a ton. A couple of years later, our Granddad decided to give them a proper clean and discovered mine was still loaded with gunpowder and lead pellets. Well, that could have been embarrassing!
My music collection is remarkably short on Afghan ditties, so I took the liberty of substituting with Arab-influenced rock, namely ‘Ride to Agadir’ by Mike Batt and Sidi H’bibi by Mano Negra.
(Unfortunately, YT banned the Manu Chao song, so I’m afraid Mr. Batt went on the loop. Pity, but there you go)
Here’s a temporary Google drive link for the superior Mano Negra version:
And here the Batty mix on my YT channel (for when the above is deleted):
Part II of the above was the bus trip from Kabul over the Khyber Pass to Peshawar in Pakistan.
(… and some of us thought Toby’s bike footage was shaky ;D)
It’s a bit long and monotonous this one, but I’m a hoarder and find it difficult to cut and discard in fear of later regret :
Thank goodness the Floyd can usually help out with a title/soundtrack for visuals-
Up the Kyhber particularly appropriate here ;D
Someone commented recently that he comes from one of the villages in the movie!
Final part of the Afgan-/Pakistan trilogy.
Dean’s Hotel in Peshawar (now gone) was an elegant colonial institution, hosting the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Winston Churchill and the King of Afghanistan as well as spies, journalists and tourists. Wistful music from the film Betty Blue.
Street scenes to the song Denia, by Manu Chao