South Shields Daily Photo

A collection of images from South Shields and the North of England

The Eve of the war

with 6 comments

South Shields Groyne Pier

South Shields Groyne Pier

I am reminded of an occasion many years ago but I cannot remember if it was Guy Fawkes night or the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, but we had a military band performing Jeff Wayne’s “War of the Worlds” and accompanied by a massive fireworks display. There was a huge crowd down at the Groyne, South Shields, and also on the “little beach” to enjoy it.

In my vivid imagination I often see the steel legs of the Groyne lighthouse marching along the beach like the Martian invaders, and I can hear the rich dulcet tones of the late Richard Burton playing the part of the journalist:

“No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space.

No one could have dreamed we were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of life on other planets and yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.

At midnight on the twelfth of August, a huge mass of luminous gas erupted from Mars and sped towards Earth. Across two hundred million miles of void, invisibly hurtling towards us, came the first of the missiles that were to bring so much calamity to Earth. As I watched, there was another jet of gas. It was another missile, starting on its way.

And that’s how it was for the next ten nights. A flare, spurting out from Mars – bright green, drawing a green mist behind it – a beautiful, but somehow disturbing sight. Ogilvy, the astronomer, assured me we were in no danger. He was convinced there could be no living thing on that remote, forbidding planet.

“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one,” he said.
“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one – but still they come!”

Then came the night the first missile approached Earth. It was thought
to be an ordinary falling star, but next day there was a huge crater in the middle of the Common, and Ogilvy came to examine what lay there: a cylinder, thirty yards across, glowing hot… and with faint sounds of movement coming from within.

Suddenly the top began moving, rotating, unscrewing, and Ogilvy feared there was a man inside, trying to escape. he rushed to the cylinder, but the intense heat stopped him before he could burn himself on the metal.

“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one,” he said.
“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one – but they still come!”

It seems totally incredible to me now that everyone spent that evening as
though it were just like any other. From the railway station came the sound of shunting trains, ringing and rumbling, softened almost into melody by the distance. It all seemed so safe and tranquil.”

Camera details: Pentax K100D, 28mm lens, 1/180 second, f16, iso 200



Written by curly

October 29, 2007 at 12:01 am

6 Responses

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  1. That’s a very unique lighthouse. Striking!

    Fénix (Bostonscapes)

    October 29, 2007 at 2:20 am

  2. WOTW came out during the summer of 1978. It’s my favourite album & would be my desert island disc. I saw the concert last December (DP entry) at the Arena & was quite spectacular. They had a 3d head of Richard Burton (another actor miming the words) which looked quite impressive. A shame Phil Lynott is no longer around, as no one can replace his ranting vicar.


    October 29, 2007 at 10:11 am

  3. Is this a spaceship? It is amazing and what wonderful colors!

    teo mocchi

    October 29, 2007 at 12:39 pm

  4. Nice shot. It kind of looks like something from outer space. It would make some kid a nice tree house.


    October 29, 2007 at 2:22 pm

  5. Curly – if you hadn’t explained otherwise, I would have guessed that this was some kind of battle walker from the new movie “Star Wars – Return of the Thacherites” or something like that. Very striking image and a bit scary. Fabulous color.

    Thanks for your comment just now. I enjoy portrait photography and have some on my Flickr site (link on my blog home page). You asked if “the city is getting back on its feet.” We’re you referring to St. Louis or the pictures of Detroit I posted a few days ago? St. Louis city proper has been bled by suburban sprawl in the last 50 years (the east-west suburban axis goes on for nearly 50 miles in a metro area of 2.6 million). There was a sharp population decline. More recently, however, there has been vigorous rehabilitation of old commercial buildings into lofts and condominium apartments, bringing a surge in young, energetic population. I’m not a native but not at all unhappy that fate set me down here.


    October 30, 2007 at 12:09 am

  6. The colors are so vivid! Love the red against the blue water.


    October 30, 2007 at 5:04 pm

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