The "Norasearch" Diary - by Andrew Conway

Chapter 15 - Posted July 9, 2001
Originally written Monday 19 July 1999


Sitting on my bed, late in the evening, I come across Jem Cohen's Lost Book Found on BBC2: an impressionistic meditation on New York, shot on video, dealing with the story of a notebook full of enigmatic messages and calculations (very Paul Auster).

As I watch, it hits me that I have to do something like it, dealing with my Norasearch: the attempt to capture a lost past. The form sits so perfectly.

I visit Mark for the weekend and get his camcorder. He's become interested in my research, amazed at how much information is sitting there in the library, and fancies looking up all the previous occupants of his new house.

After it all, he drives me home. As we pull out of his road in Kings Heath, I load the camera and am already filming as we approach Moseley Village from the south. I get a steady passing shot of Alcester Road and carry on filming till the battery runs out.

When I view the footage at home I see something interesting, something that had flitted by unnoticed as I was filming: there's a For Sale sign outside number 12.

Mind racing, I realise I can book a viewing with the estate agent, posing as a potential buyer, and maybe get some footage of the interior.

My mobile just bleeped. It was the estate agent confirming my viewing for 6pm tonight. The owners will be there to show me round. The agent must be puzzled as to why I fixed up a viewing without even asking the price of the house.

See the movie (1.1MB RealPlayer clip)

The film extract begins descending the slight hill from Moseley Village heading northwards. The cream white villas of Brighton Place flash by first, then, after Louise Lorne Road (blink and miss it), comes the St Leonards Place row and the house where Honora was born. After that the old buildings fall away and we pass the old tram depot, now derelict, and finally come to rest outside the Moseley and Balsall Heath Institute (now called Moseley Dance Centre). You can see from this how close the house is to the landmarks featured in the Vintage Photos archive.

1. Some of the villas of Brighton Place
2. Louise Lorne Road
3. St Leonards Place
4. No 12 coming into view
5. The For Sale sign
Copyright © 2000 Andrew Conway. All Rights Reserved.