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Media history jamboree at Lund University

At the end of April, I had the pleasure to visit the Section for Media History at Lund University for a week that turned into a veritable (unofficial) EMHIS festival or jamboree. Several EMHIS members were gathered in Lund to discuss audiovisual archives, transnational media history and digital methods.

Alec Badenoch (Utrecht University/ Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) spent two weeks in Lund with funding from the Sound Environment Centre. He gave talks about two exciting projects he leads as the Professor of Transnational Media endowed by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. The first talk, “Experimental Media Archaeology and Audiovisual Production” asked how to archive analogue audiovisual media in a way that would enable access to the embodied experience of analogue media production. In particular, this project works with artists to find out how archives could better serve their needs. Experimental media archaeology serves here as a method to investigate ways of accessing the experience of analogue media production.

Alec’s second talk, “Sound, Images and Postcolonial Archives: Polyvocal Interpretations” addressed the important theme of decolonizing audiovisual archives. The aim of this research project is to design a postcolonial archival interface that enables the critical examination of Dutch colonial history. The talk raised questions such as how to deal with racist terms in old metadata and how to frame archive material from the colonial era in a way that creates productive alienation for the user. Both projects showcase The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s commitment to making audiovisual archives accessible, developing research collaboration with universities and critically examining archiving practices.

Also visiting Lund was Helle Strandgaard Jensen (Aarhus University). Together with Betto van Waarden, Helle gave a seminar on digital history located at the Department of History, which I was sorry to miss due to arriving in Lund too late. Another seminar focused on the history of children’s television: I got to discuss my on-going research on Finnish 1970s and 1980s preschool television programmes while Helle presented her book Selling Sesame Street, which will be published by Oxford University Press later this year. In her book, Helle challenges the “official history” of Sesame Street which claims that the show’s international success was due simply to its quality and broad appeal. Using a global history approach, she shows that the producers of Sesame Street in fact marketed the programme aggressively in Europe and Latin America. Despite its non-commercial branding in the US, Sesame Street became a commercial predator in the international television marketplace.

After two years of online events, it was a real treat to spend a beautiful spring week in Lund, with days filled with lively discussion, shared meals and afternoon fika. The week really made me realize what we have missed out on during the pandemic. The Media History section in Lund made a great impression with its warm and collegial atmosphere. Many, many thanks to Marie Cronqvist and all the colleagues at Media History for an inspiring week!

Mari Pajala

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

 

May 18, 2022

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Report from the COHECREA Workshop in Luxembourg, 2–4 Feb, 2022

The theme of this year’s ECREA Communication History Section Workshop was “History of Digital Media and Digital Media Historiography” and it was held at The Centre for Digital and Contemporary History C2DH at the University of Luxembourg. The workshop was co-sponsored by the ICA Communication History Division and organized by Valérie Schafer and Carmen Noguera (C2DH) with assistance from the head of the COHECREA section Gabriele Balbi (USI).

True to the times we live in at the – fingers crossed – final phase of the Covid pandemic, the workshop was held in hybrid form with most participants taking part of the conference online and only a few on-site. But as we have come to learn by now, an online event can still be successful if it is marked by two things: a good spirit and engagement from all participants (cameras on!), and a warm and welcoming atmosphere on behalf of the organizers. This conference indeed had both.

We had the privilege of each charing a session and taking part in the discussion following a number of interesting presentations over the the two and a half days on topics such as digital historiographies, analogue content in the digital realm, women, history and heritage, and digitalization. The full programme can be found on this page.

Several EMHIS members gave talks at the conference. Helle Strandgaard Jensen with Danish colleagues Alexander Thygesen, Josephine Møller Jensen and Max Odsbjerg Pedersen presented on “How Do Twitter Users Remember Sesame Street? A scalable reading of media history”. The speakers demonstrated the importance of looking beyond hashtags and provided a model for bridging distant and close readings of Twitter data. Stephanie Seul from the University of Bremen also attended the conference. In Stephanie’s presentation, “Tracing Female War Reporters of the First World War in Digital Newspaper Archives: A transnational approach”, she shared with us the trials and tribulations of doing transnational media history in digital newspaper archives.

Two interesting keynotes were offered. One by Claude Mussou from the Institut National de L’audiovisuel (INA), who talked about the opportunities and challenges the digitized and “augmented” audiovisual archive faces, and one by Niels Brügger from Aarhus University, who talked on the topic “Media Events: Dayan & Katz Revisited in the Light of Digital Media”, using the Olympic Games as a case study. A valuable and much appreciated addition to the conference programme was also the hands-on sessions on Impresso and digitised newspaper archives by Marten During and Lars Wieneke, and on Zotero and Tropy by Sean Takats.

Although we sadly missed the opportunity to visit Luxembourg in person this time, we thoroughly enjoyed the conference and look forward to the forthcoming events arranged by the ECREA and ICA Communication History Sections.

Sune Bechmann Pedersen & Marie Cronqvist

 

 

 

February 24, 2022

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EMHIS spring online seminars

Welcome to join us for the EMHIS Lunch Webinar Series, spring 2022. As usual, our seminars will be one hour with a 30-minute presentation followed by a discussion. If you are interested to join in, please send a mail to one of the organisers: Marie Cronqvist or Jamie Medhurst (addresses on the poster below). Please note that all times are Central European time.

Welcome!

 

February 3, 2022

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Lunch webinar series autumn 2021

A warm welcome to join the autumn EMHIS Lunch Webinar Series, which will run from October until December 2021. As in the spring, our seminars will be one hour with a 30-minute presentation followed by a discussion. An exception is the co-arranged seminar on 9 December. If you are interested to join in, please send a mail to one of the organisers: Marie Cronqvist or Jamie Medhurst (addresses below). Please note that all times are Central European time.

Welcome!

October 12, 2021

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Report from EMHIS IX, 21 May 2021

It was a warm and welcoming atmosphere as we joined EMHIS IX online from various places (home and work offices), different time zones, and countries in Europe (and beyond). The Covid-19 pandemic might have put a spanner in the works on international travel but with the wonder of Zoom and the Wonder meeting platforms we were able to get together again as a group. EMHIS IX was organised in collaboration with DigitalHistory@Lund, a research platform run by the Section for Media History and the Centre for the History of Knowledge (LUCK) at Lund University (Sweden), which also set the theme for the conference: ‘Digital Sources, Digital Methods’.

The day began with news and updates from the EMHIS steering committee, and we were also reminded of our last (in person) gathering in the enchantingly setting of green hills and grounds, of Gregynog Hall, in May 2019. Little did we know then how much our work, research, and every day (social) experience, would change moving forward to May 2021.


EMHIS IX “corridor chat” on the Wonder platform in between Zoom sessions.

After a brief news update from the steering committee our first session began. This session included short introductory presentations from new EMHIS members. First out was Hermann Breitenborn (Hamburg University, Germany) who talked about the city of Hamburg and its districts, and how the city was in focus in the so called ‘St. Pauli films’ or ‘Hamburg films’ of the 1960s and 1970s. What shots and locations were used to create the image of the city? A transnational theme was also introduced as many of the film rights were sold internationally. Our second speaker Mari Pajala (University of Turku, Finland) talked about her research on Finnish television, for example, Cold War era contacts between Finnish television and state-socialist television, before introducing her current research on Nordvision – a network of Nordic public service broadcasters established in 1959 to encourage programme exchange, co-operation, and a sense of a Nordic community. From Nordvision to Swedish television, our third speaker Emil Stjernholm (Lund University, Sweden) talked about his new research project that looks at television as a medium for government information and the role of the Swedish Television in particular as a communication tool for government. A key component of the research will be the analysis of Anslagstavlan (a bulletin programme introduced in 1972) and Emil shared some thoughts and insights of how the collection will be analysed using digital methods – a topic we returned to in our afternoon session. Eskil Vesterlund (Lund University, Sweden) presented an overview of his ongoing PhD research that aim to historicise opinion polls by studying the Swedish Gallup Institute, and the Gallup poll as a media technology in the 1940s and 1950s, asking the question: how did Gallup polls represent and mediate the world? The final introductory presentation came from John Walsh (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland) who talked about the significance of Irish pirate radio 1978-1988 for politics, economy, society, culture and technology, and its transnational dimensions. We were also introduced to the work that has been done to build and develop the Irish Pirate Radio Audio Archive and were also treated to an audio excursion of Irish pirate radio. The session produced interesting questions and discussion and as a network we welcome our new members and look forward to follow the different projects and research as they progress.

The afternoon panel focused in on the theme of the conference: ‘Digital Sources, Digital Methods’. The first talk “Big Bird Twitter: Scalable readings of Sesame Street remembrance on a social media platform” was presented by a team at Aarhus University (Denmark) led by Helle Strandgaard Jensen, who together with colleagues Alexander Ulrich Thygesen, Josephine Møller Jensen, and Max Odsbjerg Pedersen, asked the question: “How is Sesame Street being remembered on Twitter?” The team shared initial findings and useful recommendations including suggestions of resources available online such as The Programming Historian: Beginners Guide to Twitter Data. From Twitter and Sesame Street we then moved to Cold War tourist guidebooks. In the talk “Mapping tourist guidebooks: Digital approaches to the history of attractions”, Sune Bechmann Pedersen (Lund University, Sweden) shared observations from using geocoding to map places of interest listed in post-war guidebooks (aimed at Western tourists) to Communist Europe. The aim; to move away from simply qualitative analysis of travel guides and consider what results would be generated with a quantitative approach? Of particular interest, what would the mapping look like over a longer period of time? Tentative findings indicated some interesting continuities in what tourist attractions were promoted before and during the Cold War. The last speaker in the session was Frédéric Clavert (C2DH, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg), the Managing Editor of The Journal of Digital History, whose talk “The Journal of Digital History and the multi-layered article” presented good insights and an introduction to writing digital history. The journal was launched in 2020 and aims to promote “a new form of data-driven scholarship and of transmedia storytelling in the historical sciences” – with the guiding principle of multi-layered articles. The panel provided fascinating insights in how to use and work with digital sources and digital methods. This was a good reminder (to some of us!) of how digital literacy can enhance our research, data collection, and analysis. The sharing of ideas and experience in using digital sources and methods will surely be a theme to be continued within EMHIS.  

The day closed with some reflections and a look to the future. There are plans for funding applications and the continuation of the very successful EMHIS Lunch Webinar series (launched in February 2021) so watch this space for further details about the autumn webinar schedule. It was lovely to be part of the EMHIS spirit again and we are looking forward to the next Forum where we will hopefully be able to meet in real life!

Report written by Kristin Skoog, Bournemouth University, UK

May 31, 2021

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‘Parliament and Media’ – an online EMHIS symposium 20 May 2021

Social media interview with Bernd Lange, EU parliament. Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2020 – Source: EP

On 20–21 May, EMHIS holds its ninth conference called EMHIS Forum IX. The first of these two days has the specific theme of ‘Parliament & Media’ and this day is open to everyone interested in the evolving love-hate relationship between parliamentarians and media over the last two centuries. We hope you will be able to join us, listen to interesting presentations and take part in the discussion!

From the programme (please note that it is Central European Time):

9.20 Opening remarks by Betto van Waarden (Lund)

9.30 Panel 1: Parliaments’ own Media Communications 

Betto van Waarden (Lund), joined by Mathias Johansson (Lund) during Q&A, Ian Harris (Leicester), Hilde Lavell (Radboud), joined by Carla Hoetink (Radboud) during Q&A, Sally Young (Melbourne). Moderator: Martin Sundby (Lund).

13.00 Panel 2: Parliamentary Reporting. Marcel Broersma (Groningen), Matti La Mela (Helsinki/Uppsala). Moderator: Michael Bossetta (Lund).

14.30 Panel 3: The Media as ‘Parliament’. Marco Althaus (Alfelder Zeitung), Solange Ploeg (Radboud), joined by Carla Hoetink (Radboud) during Q&A. Moderator: Harm Kaal (Radboud).

16.00 Keynote: The Congressional Press Galleries: Causes and consequences of self-regulation. Donald Ritchie (US Senate). Moderator: Betto van Waarden (Lund).

The conference organiser of this day is Dr. Betto van Waarden, as a part of his MSCA research fellowship at Lund University. Please send Betto a mail (see address on his webpage, link above) to retrieve the full programme and the Zoom link for the event.

Welcome!

April 20, 2021

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New EMHIS members

In the last few months, we have been delighted to welcome six new members to the EMHIS network:

Hermann Breitenborn (Hamburg University, Germany)

Natasha Kitcher (Loughborough University, UK)

Mari Pajala (University of Turku, Finland)

John Walsh (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

Eskil Vesterlund (Lund University, Sweden)

Emil Stjernholm (Lund University, Sweden)

We are really happy to have you joining us and look forward to hear more about your research areas which range from film and television to pirate radio and the history of the electrophone. Welcome!

“Electrophone 1901”, George R. Sims, Wikimedia Commons/US public domain.

 

January 26, 2021

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Lunch webinar series 2021

Happy new year, everyone!

We are excited to present the new spring Lunch Webinar Series, which will run from February until June 2021. In line with the general ambition of EMHIS to support PhD students and early career researchers in media history, but also considering these trying times with the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficulties to travel and present your work, we have provided space for this group in particular. The lunch seminars will be one-hour long with a 30 mins presentation followed by a discussion. If you are interested to join in, please send a mail to one of the organisers: Marie Cronqvist or Jamie Medhurst (addresses below).

Welcome!

 

January 15, 2021

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Media history in Lund receives grant to promote digital history

A new partnership between the Section for Media History and the Lund Centre for the History of Knowledge (LUCK) to promote digital history receives 3.3 million SEK from the Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology at Lund University. Named DigitalHistory@Lund, the new platform will support digital history research and digitization projects at Lund University.

Launching in January 2021, DigitalHistory@Lund aims to integrate existing digital history research, support the development of new projects, promote digital history skills, and build closer ties with partners outside academia.

DigitalHistory@Lund is coordinated by Media History and LUCK, and it involves faculty members in a wide range of historical subjects at Lund, as well as partners at the Humanities Lab, Lund University Library, and the National Library of Sweden.

The initiative is headed by Marie Cronqvist and Sune Bechmann Pedersen (Media History) and Kajsa Weber (History), together with a full-time research engineer dedicated to assisting faculty members with digital history projects. The ambition for the 2-year initiative is to develop new successful projects that will ensure a sustained focus on the challenges and opportunities of digital history in Sweden.

The Lund team is looking forward to collaborate with other EMHIS colleagues and together strengthen our competence in the field of digital history!

/ Marie Cronqvist & Sune Bechmann Pedersen

October 16, 2020

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Betto van Waarden new MSCA fellow at Lund University

All members of the Section for Media History at Lund University are delighted to welcome EMHIS member Dr Betto van Waarden from Leuven University, Belgium, as one of our colleagues for two years within the Horizon 2020 programme Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions for Post Doc Researchers.

During his time in Lund, Betto will be working with his interesting project entitled  ‘Presenting Parliament: Parliamentarians’ visions of the communication and role of parliament within the mediated democracies of Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands, 1844-1995’. Supervisor in Lund is Marie Cronqvist and co-supervisor is Ulrika Holgersson. Read more about Betto’s research on the Lund University research portal.

 

Another wonderful outcome of the EMHIS network collaboration! Congratulations, Betto!

 

Featured image: House of Commons, UK, Wikimedia Commons

 

October 15, 2020

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Sonic traces of VE day 1945: Germany

Tuesday 8 May 1945, is widely known as Victory in Europe (VE) Day. Although the Second World War officially came to an end, not all Europeans celebrated the date. 8 May was experienced differently by people all over Europe. Most of them coped with everyday problems depending on the various situations they lived in: as a soldier of the German Wehrmacht or the Allied troops, as a housewife preparing a meal or living in an emergency shelter, as a survivor of the Holocaust in one of the liberated concentration camps or as a perpetrator who stood accused. Without personal documents we can only imagine what might have shaped people’s experiences of this day. But as far media coverage has been preserved, we can at least analyse what these people were told by the media of the time: reports by newspapers and the radio, news by broadsheets and loudspeakers that marked the end of the war. Of course, facts about the acceptance of the unconditional surrender of Germany’s armed forces by the Allies were inextricably interwoven with interpretations of what this event should mean for the contemporary readers, listeners and bystanders.

This is the third of three blog entries about the sonic traces of May 1945 in Britain, Germany and Sweden (authors Hugh Chignell, Hans-Ulrich Wagner and Marie Cronqvist) and the messages given by radio to the people who got in contact with them. They are radio sources from a victor, a loser, and a neutral. We consider such documents as relics of communicative processes in the past. This means that we consider them sources of past speaking and writing while looking for traces of past listening and reading historians lack so often.

These days, people in Germany can watch and listen to a long array of documentaries that all deal with the end of the Second World War 75 years ago. Since 1985 which then marked the 40th anniversary of unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht, the end of the Nazi government and the occupation by Allied troops, Germans have been discussing what VE Day means for them. For quite a long time, the understanding of being liberated was predominant. But right-wing voices are more and more challenging this interpretation by emphasising defeat, losses, and all the suffering in the rubble years.

Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signing the final surrender terms on 8 May 1945 in Berlin (source: Wikimedia, public domain)

Against this background, I would like to draw the attention to two radio documents of May 1945 – clips that reveal the clash of various interpretations given to the contemporary audience of May 1945.

The first document is the radio speech given by Großadmiral Dönitz on 8 May 1945. The document has been preserved at the German Broadcasting Archive (Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv, DRA) and can be listened to in its special online dossier. BBC Monitoring Transcripts reveal that it was broadcast at 12.30.

Sender Flensburg: Rundfunkansprache von Großadmiral Dönitz zur Kapitulation des Deutschen Reiches (KONF 2833984)

After Hitler’s suicide on April, 30, Karl Dönitz became Reichspräsident of the German Reich. He and some high-ranked military officers and ministers escaped from Berlin and fled to Flensburg, in the north of Germany on the Danish border. The transmitter and the relay station there became a small radio station from which the Nazi government could address the German audience – at that time already under control of the British troops. The speech doesn’t merely give the factual information of unconditional surrender. Germans listening to this broadcast were also told that the ‘the unity of State and Party no longer exists’. Dönitz represents himself as a noble statesman dedicated to serve the German people (deutsches Volk). He both commemorates German fortitude and martyrdom (Tapferkeit und Opfertat) and appeals urgently on German strength and will (Kraft und Wille) which shall become the basis of a peaceful Europe.

The second document corresponds with this last address by the Nazi leadership. It is a BBC reportage recorded on 8 May 1945 in Lüneburg, a city in Lower Saxony, 50 kilometers away from Hamburg. Unfortunately, this clip hasn’t been published yet, so it can’t be linked to the sound document itself.

The reportage is about the announcement of armistice in Lüneburg. “Hello BBC, this is D-Day in Germany. And here in the old town of Luneburg …” the reporter starts. The BBC journalist tells his audience that Lüneburg inhabitants had been requested to gather at the market place at 4 o’clock and to listen to their mayor. For quite a long time, the reportage transmits the German speech about unconditional surrender given from the balcony. But what makes this reportage an outstanding document is the notice of the reporter which follows at the end of the clip: “as the announcement is made, the Germans stand listening to it silently, not a comment, not a movement among the crowd… they pause for a moment and then without comment the crowd starts to disperse”. This observation reveals something about German people’s mood at the end of the Second World War. There are no methodological reasons to call into question what the reporter says about people’s reactions. So the reportage turns out to be a proof for historians stating that Germans in May 1945 were somehow emotionless, incapable of suffering and acting, without pity, without compassion, not interested in politics and plans for future as mentioned in the propaganda speech by Admiral Dönitz. The BBC reportage was obviously broadcast on 8 May 1945. It ends up with an address to its British audience: “We in the crowd in British uniform can imagine a different D-Day”, a D-Day in Britain with excitement and flags. “Here in the town square of Luneburg is the other side of the picture.” What a wonderful British-German entangled sound document!

Zero Hour or not? Since the 1980s a huge amount of books have been published especially in Germany. (Photo: Hans-Ulrich Wagner)

/ Hans-Ulrich Wagner, Hamburg

 

May 7, 2020

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Sonic traces of VE day 1945: Britain

Tuesday 8 May 1945, is widely known as Victory in Europe (VE) Day. Although the Second World War officially came to an end, not all Europeans celebrated the date. 8 May was experienced differently by people all over Europe. Most of them coped with everyday problems depending on the various situations they lived in: as a soldier of the German Wehrmacht or the Allied troops, as a housewife preparing a meal or living in an emergency shelter, as a survivor of the Holocaust in one of the liberated concentration camps or as a perpetrator who stood accused. Without personal documents we can only imagine what might have shaped people’s experiences of this day. But as far media coverage has been preserved, we can at least analyse what these people were told by the media of the time: reports by newspapers and the radio, news by broadsheets and loudspeakers that marked the end of the war. Of course, facts about the acceptance of the unconditional surrender of Germany’s armed forces by the Allies were inextricably interwoven with interpretations of what this event should mean for the contemporary readers, listeners and bystanders.

This is the first of three blog entries about the sonic traces of May 1945 in Britain, Germany and Sweden (authors Hugh Chignell, Hans-Ulrich Wagner and Marie Cronqvist) and the messages given by radio to the people who got in contact with them. They are radio sources from a victor, a loser, and a neutral. We consider such documents as relics of communicative processes in the past. This means that we consider them sources of past speaking and writing while looking for traces of past listening and reading historians lack so often.

Churchill waves to crowd (source: Wikimedia, public domain)

Most historical accounts of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) focus on London and the gathering of huge crowds around Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square – the traditional meeting places for celebrations in the capital. The celebrations had been triggered by Hitler’s assassination on 30 April followed by the complete surrender of German forces at 02.14 on 7 May.  The following recording tells us little but its sheer mundane authenticity; the sound of repeated car horns, whistles and cheers somehow connects us to what must have been a day of great relief and joy. 

VE Day Buckingham Palace (recording copyright BBC)

The BBC was not only central to celebrations and commemoration, it had earned that right over the last six years, and at 15:00 on 8 May it broadcast Churchill’s victory speech, ‘the evil doers now lie prostrate before us’.  In Sian Nicholas’ definitive account of the BBC and the war she writes with authority of the tremendous success of VE Day broadcasts. After Churchill had been heard by 71% of the population (some listening to his words broadcast through loud speakers fixed to trees) Victory Celebrations was a programme designed to bring the London festivities to everyone in the land. Later that evening, with a certain inevitability, listeners were treated to a Tribute to the King featuring voices from around the Empire. The following week, J B Priestley, who had so brilliantly captured the public mood in the early years of the war was allowed to sound a note of caution warning that ‘the scene is grim and ruinous; and the journey must continue … Europe must be put together.’

Two girls at VE Day 1945, Battersea, London. (source: Wikimedia, public domain, IWM Non-Commercial License)

The scenes of crowds wearing paper hats, shouting and singing would have been against a grimmer back drop.  London a shattered city, like so many throughout Europe, everywhere blackened by fire, rubble in huge heaps, ominous gaps in rows of houses. The crowds sang but as one 50 year old man remarked, ‘It was just like this after the last war and twelve months later we was standing in dole queues.’ 

Further reading and listening: David Hendy’s article on VE Day the History of the BBC webpage

/ Hugh Chignell, Bournemouth

 

May 7, 2020

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