Holborn Circus, London, c1970 (The statue is Prince Albert, the church is St Andrews, an ancient guild church by Wren, and the tower along Holborn Viaduct to the left is the City Temple)
Barnes village and pond, London SW13
One thing Collections has never asked a contributor is their age although it's often offered. We have always known that many of those who supply us are a good deal older than Brian and me and we're well into our seventies. We inherited a clutch of distinguished photographers when J Allan Cash closed down because I guess we looked like a good option and David Askham had done such a spectacular job of unsolicited PR when he wrote Photo Libraries and Agencies for the Bureau of Freelance Photographers more years ago than I care to think about.
Eric Lewis was the oldest. When he died recently, he was in his late nineties. He was still snapping away until a couple of years ago and would drive up to Muswell Hill with a little box of transparencies, have a cup of coffee and talk about his beloved daughter and his grandson. He was a much loved and trusted babysitter at an age when many people have settled into a chair in front of daytime television and require a bib. It's only a few years ago that he and his wife went off on a Club Mediterranee holiday the sort of place where everyone is about 23. They had a whale of a time, staff and holidaymakers all pampering them something rotten.
Eric was extraordinary. He was astoundingly well dressed dapper is the word. When he left school, he went to work for Marks & Spencer in one of the big stores in Oxford Street and apart from being in the army in WW2, he never left them. He retired sometime in the sixties took up photography and never looked back. He turned up here one day with a collection of pictures of a serious road accident on the North Circular Road. There were police and ambulances and general mayhem. These days, folk snap it all on their mobiles and nobody can stop them. This was a while ago and on the whole, snappers were steered away from blood and gore. Eric was so elderly and distinguished that nobody thought to get rid of him and we got the pictures. On another day he appeared with very pretty pictures of Barnes. A few days later, a researcher called looking for pretty pictures of Barnes. I reckoned he was psychic. He also gave us a fascinating collection of black and white prints of Britain in the sixties and seventies, now a bit dated but nevertheless, an honest version of what life was like.
I wrote copious notes at his funeral which was full of happy people who clearly loved and respected him. Old age didn't bother him but it does me. I filed my notes and can't remember where. All that I do recall was the curious fact that Eric was a dab hand with a yo-yo.
Eric was a lovely man. We are happy that his equally lovely daughter is still a Collections contributor. He was funny and happy and we will miss him.