Do More – Say Less

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Well a  very hopeful and brave New Year to all my followers and random readers and a special warm welcome to my 300th follower of this blog. Although  I don’t like the term ‘follower’ very much. Jesus had followers and I ain’t no Jesus.

I’ve not been on here for a while. Before Christmas my Laptop Hard Disk crashed. Fortunately, friend, neighbour and computer geek helped me get up and running in a relatively painless manner and saved me some cash in the process. A new hard disk in the same laptop against a brand new laptop at a fraction of the cost. What was disconcerting about the event was that it  brought home to me just how dependent  on having a computer and being attached to the World Wide Web I’ve become. From having to pay bills on line to just being in touch with friends and a multitude of other things.  It’s a dependency I can’t say I’m happy with oh no.

I’ve resisted the urge to do a Review of 2016. I haven’t got that much to say about it that probably hasn’t been said already. Like a lot of people I know, for me personally,  it was a pretty bum year and I’m glad to see the back of it. My father in law passed away at the end of September after an 18 month illness. Much of 2016 was spent helping the family to look after him.That’s him in the above photo which I took back in 2009 for my project on Englishness. He died of what we categorize here in the UK as an “Industrial Disease”. Actually it was Mesothelioma, commonly known as Asbestosis. As a Pattern Maker for the local Iron Foundry he’d worked with asbestos back in the late 70’s early 80’s. Doing a job he loved to provide for his family but a job which eventually would kill him. I’m glad I made the effort to make this image of him and his wife in their back garden, one foot on the path and one foot on the English soil.

On the subject of English soil I didn’t vote for this country to leave Europe. I didn’t believe it was in the nation’s best interests, economically or socially. Certainly not for the majority of us anyway and I’ve not seen anything yet to change my mind. Now the deed has been done and we’re waiting for a soft, hard or semi erect Brexit I hope, very much hope that it will all turn out alright in the end and I’m wrong in my opinion. I suspect we’ll not know for about  30 years by which time I’ll either be gone or too old to give a shit. One of the men to blame will be Nigel Farage and he’ll be long gone too. When Trump won the election Farage went over to congratulate him and have his photo taken with him. Like Trump, Farage is one of those people who abuses anyone who doesn’t agree with him; a political bully.

Meanwhile over in the USA !

What is there to say about Donald Trump that hasn’t already been said ? There’s a part of me that thinks he’ll not actually achieve much, if anything at all. He’ll be the most ineffectual American President in history. He strikes me as a dodgy business man who’ll say anything to anyone in order to sell something. I’d be interested to hear and see him perform in front of an all black American audience in one of the Southern States and compare that to an all Hispanic audience. Might be alright as a business man running your own Companies but quite different as President of the good ole US of A surrounded by lots of intelligent bureaucrats who have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to delay policies that don’t fit. Here in the UK we have the Civil Service for all that malarkey. You’ve got to laugh at the Democrats though haven’t you. I mean if they didn’t write dodgy emails in the first place then the Russians wouldn’t have found them to leak. Give someone enough rope and eventually they’ll hang themselves which is kinda what I hope will happen to Trump.

So in 2017 I’m very much hoping to curtail my dependency on computers and not worry about all those things like world politics that I can do absolutely nothing about. My New Year’s resolution ? Do More – Say Less.

A brave and hopeful New Year to you all.

 

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Looking for Clues

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Apparently there’s craze sweeping America at the moment, which I suppose it was inevitable has found its way over here. That of ‘creepy clown’, people dressing up as clowns and frightening the shit out of people young and old. Apart from anything else it’s giving genuine clowns in the clown industry a bad name. People who’ve spent their lives perfecting the art of being a clown for genuine clown reasons are now being undermined by others who think all they’ve got to do is go to a fancy dress shop, buy a clowns outfit and run around their local park, shopping mall, school playground erm being a clown frightening the bejesus out of people with a clown aversion.

I asked a work colleague of mine the other day who this Kim Kardashian was ? I keep hearing her name mentioned. Is she married to that creepy clown Donald Trump ?  Apparently she’s a reality TV star with a large bottom which may be due to surgical or cosmetic enhancement. One supposes if that’s the case it was to make her more attractive to the opposite sex my colleague suggested. “What” I said “like a Baboon ?”.

I’m beginning to think I’m living in some kind of parallel universe. Either that or the world is going slowly mad. We’re beginning to eat ourselves, metaphorically that is. That there’s something in the water or the food we eat that’s making us lose a sense of what reality should be. I mean why would you walk around wearing a t-shirt with ‘Not Dead Yet’ written across it ?

I often think that much of my photography is about trying to make sense of this crazy world we’re living in. It’s not about making pretty images of wild daffodils on hillsides  or the ‘decisive moment’. That as a practising street photographer I’m like a detective at the scene of the crime, looking for clues. Bits of information which will somehow become the sum of a much bigger part

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Caravan Diaries continued….. Six Degrees of Separation Theory

Caravan Diaries 22 August 2016 contd ……..

I see no ships ? ………

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The night before we came out in our caravan we were at the Sister in Laws to celebrate our niece’s A level results. There’s something dodgy about her English Literature mark, or rather everyone else’s in the class. They’ve all been given the same blanket mark of a ‘D’. How is it possible that all the class have got the same mark ? I smell a bureaucratic rat ?
My niece’s boyfriend is at the party too and his parents have been invited along. Chesterfield can be a bit of a village at times and as soon as I walk in I think I recognise boyfriend’s father.Turns out we went to the same school together and although he is older than me I was in the same class as his sister Jane. A feisty character she was but I got on quite well with her. As the night wears on we reminisce about some of the teachers we were taught by. Some of the teachers were quite vicious, quite violent, overseen by the Headmaster Squadron Leader Norman Crookes DFC. There was Mr Buckley who’d been a boxer. One time I witnessed him thump five boys around the history class. There was ‘Rat Wells’, you didn’t wanna mess with him. Mr Windle ( whose wife and father successfully won Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game ) called his means of corporal punishment ‘Abigail’ apparently; ” you boy it’s time to meet Abigail’. Headmaster Squadron Leader Norman Crookes DFC liberally dispensed the cane. He saw it as a means of some much-needed trans-formative power, boys into men kind of thing. One of my mates got the cane and I remember him showing me the two red stripes across the top of his backside. Having shot down a number of enemy bombers in the Second World War I suppose Norman he felt entitled.
Perhaps William Rhodes Secondary School’s main claim to fame though was being the school attended by Paul Burrell ( a few years older than me ) the Butler to HRH Diana Spencer. Her who provided Prince Charles with an Heir and a spare only to lose her life in a nasty car accident in a Paris underpass while on a night out with Dodi Fayed the son of the bloke who owned Harrods. Burrell wrote about his time at William Rhodes and Norman Crookes DFC in his memorable critically acclaimed auto biography called ? ………..erm I forget !!  Not long before this seismic event in our history, Diana and Dodi visited ( as reported by the gutter press ) a medium Rita Rogers who lived  the other side of Chesterfield directly across  the road from my father in law. When the press got wind of this Rita Rogers medium story they were knocking on my father in law’s door wanting to know what he’d seen ?  He’d seen the Harrods helicopter and that was about it. I love these haphazard connections !!
Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

Today I don’t think we’ll be doing much at all. We don’t need to go anywhere and we don’t need to be anything.

The wife not needing to go anywhere or be anything….

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I blame complex algorithms !

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Apparently it’s World Photo Day today, Friday 19th August. Someone somewhere in an office no doubt sat at a computer has decreed today of all days is ‘ World Photo Day’. As such, this being supposedly a photography blog I feel compelled to write something. Naturally a photo blog needs a photo to kick it off and I found this image I took about two years ago while out in town erm doing some street photography. I’ve chosen this image because shortly after it was taken I got followed around town by some extremely abusive kids hell bent on causing trouble, accusing me of being a peado while simultaneously throwing all sorts of things at me including a baseball and a biscuit. A few weeks later the ring leader, his mate and I came to blows when they tried to give me grief again outside the bank. The ring leader had me in a ‘bear hug’ but soon let go when I took hold of his balls through his dirty piss stained track suit bottoms. That was the last time he saw me because he’s too thick to recognise me without my hat on.

So today it seems appropriate, and it would appear that a defining image has been chosen by our scummy press of the conflict in Syria, A photo of a young boy sitting in an ambulance, dirty, bloodied and in shock having just been pulled out of a bombed building ………. a symbol we are told of Aleppo’s suffering ! Every conflict it would seem needs a defining image; World War 1, World War 2, Vietnam, Gulf War 1 and 2 and on and on  they all have a defining image and on and on. As if we somehow need defining images to remind us that the press exist ? The press here in the UK are a set of scumbags. They only tell us what they want us to know. They treat us like idiots but then there’s an argument which says we get the press we deserve.

So this being World Photo Day here’s my favourite Edward Weston image.

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Actually I’m all in favour of these World Days. I think every day should be a World Day of one thing or another. Like ‘World Don’t Throw Crap in the Sea Day’, ‘World Say Something Nice to Someone Day’, ‘World Let Them Eat Cake Day’, ‘World Elect New Leaders Day’ ? I’m open to more suggestions ?

Here’s a nice photo of a car wrapped up in tarpaulin ! Well it looks like a car to me ?

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Book of the Week : Bicycle Diaries – David Byrne

Track of the Week : Gimme shelter – Rolling Stones

Say Hello Wave Goodbye

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Well my European friends I’d just like you to know that I voted to ‘Remain’ in the European Union but alas the majority of my fellow countrymen and women did not. What happens now ? How this will unravel is anybody’s guess but from where I’m standing it’s not looking good. To add insult to injury on the day of the result the UK had a visit from Donald Trump. Well we were told it was him but it could have been a body double. Saddam Hussein had a number of body doubles apparently. I sincerely hope my fears and reservations about leaving the Union will be proved wrong and one day I’ll be able to hold my hand up and admit I was wrong. The saving grace for me is that most of my friends whom I admire and whose intelligence I trust all feel the same way as I do.
In the meantime I always seem to be able to find a suitable image from my archive.

 

 

Afghan Hill – Lesvos

My dear friends and fellow photographers  Maria Falconer and Paul Hill are currently in Lesvos doing as much as they can for the humanitarian crisis which is ongoing and continues to unravel. You can read their experiences directly from one of the front lines here Afghan Hill

Ashes to Ashes

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Fun to funky ! The first album I ever bought was The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I bought it on cassette. We’d managed, my brother and I, to persuade my Dad to let us have a Radio \ Cassette player. My Grandmother, Nana Rankin, contributed to the cost. We bought an Hitachi, it was expensive, we’ve still got it. This was around 1974 I reckon. I was about twelve. I don’t know what made me buy this album, how I’d got into it, where I’d heard it first. Now I write this it’s coming back to me. I reckon it was amongst a small collection of LP’s  he’d borrowed off a school pal. It was amongst the Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the Yes and Led Zeppelin albums. I played Ziggy over and over again and when the album went back I had to own it for myself. When we finally got a player this was the first purchase. I can’t admit to any deep contextual reason why I bought it, the androgyny, the underlying sexiness of it,  the musical experimentation, the poppiness,  the artyness, the radical shift, the love songs  etc etc. I just liked the tunes, the melodies, the lyrics. The one song you’re up and the next you’re down. The fact that whatever mood you were in, there was a song on this album for it. There still is.  I was twelve for God’s sake, what did I know about such things ?  ” Satisfaction, satisfaction ! ……keep me satisfied “.
I can’t admit to being a massive, obsessive fan. Ziggy was the only Bowie album I ever bought. Some of his stuff I just didn’t get/like but, and here’s the truth !  David Bowie was always there ! Either at the front of music I listened to through the airwaves or in the background.  There was Rock and Roll and there was Bowie. There was Blues and there was Bowie. There was Progressive Rock and there was Bowie.  There was Punk Rock and then there was Bowie. There was Pop music and then, thank God, there was David Bowie ! A few years ago I was doing my Photography MA at University and downstairs from our Lecture Room  was Prof Martin Richardson  working with holography. In his studio was a holographic portrait of Bowie who it turned out had been working with Martin. I think Martin had signed some secrecy clause but talking to him I could see he was thrilled to have been working with Bowie. Me ?  I was bowled over by the fact that while Bowie had not recently been in the public arena he was still out there working on stuff as an artist and I’d had a sneaky preview.  He was an Artist, a true Artist in every sense of the word.

So last week I shed a tear for the death of David Bowie and it’s taken me a few days to realise why. I was shedding a tear for sentimentality, for nostalgia. My own ! An essential aspect of my past, a culture that I embraced, that kept me warm, kept me stimulated and in that sense, alive. When someone dies, you are reminded of your own mortality, your own fragile existence and it is this that I was shedding a tear for. Nevertheless I thank David Bowie for being around and giving us songs like Starman, Wild is the Wind. Suffragette City and others and perhaps most important of all reminding us that ‘We can be Heroes, just for one day ! ”

 

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