Here are David and Sean, cobblers by trade as you can see. 


This was a very early shot that I took for a series that eventually became Working Hands.  It didn’t fit the series in the end but it’s still a small piece of social history. At the time, David was into his fifth decade as a cobbler; his five brothers had all gone into the trade and their father had been a cobbler all his life before them.  (Sean is not his son so the line ends there.)

You might think that is a degree of social stability which just doesn’t happen any more.  Yet I’ve been surprised, talking to the various tradesmen who have been working on the house we’ve moved into recently, how many of them went into the same trade as their father.

Here’s another example, kind of, anyway.


 This is Paul the coal merchant (though his lorry described the firm as Fuelologists: it’s not in the OED but that’s a sad omission in my view).  For many years Paul had run a bar/hotel in France.  He speaks French well and his own sons are bilingual.  The previous generation had built up the coal business and when they retired he decided to come back to the UK and take it on. 

Most recently, both the plasterer and the gutterman who were working on our house had on-site visits from their retired fathers. Whether that was simply social or by way of a work inspection - well, I really don’t know, but I did find it kind of reassuring.