It's mango season. That gives me a break from photographing pears. It'll be cherries soon, then grapes, followed by a lull of stoned fruit and finally ending in some winter vegetables. The beauty of photographing fruit and the like, especially in B&W, is that one must occupy themselves with form and texture. They are no longer fruit but a flat recording of simple form and texture. Get it right and your skin will crawl with pleasure. And I don't even eat mangoes. Ech!
Friday, November 28, 2014
Of all the pleasures in life, reading comes up there with the best. The act of understanding the words, seeing the context, accumulating information, imagining new experiences is accompanied by the physical action of hold and turning the pages, feeling the weight of the words and being in the place.
One can lose the art of conversation so easily. It's easy to slide into a pattern of introspection. A conversation with a friend, acquaintance, colleague, loved one or passer by provides a refection of ideas, feelings and thoughts that are refreshing, entertaining, meaningful and considerate. Conversations with some individuals can also be distasteful, mean, hurtful and downright crazy.
Knowing the difference is the art of good conversation. Be artful. Spend your time with those who will stand in the shade with you, lean back, look you in the eye and understand.
Two ways, just move forward. Trust me.
That sounds very much like a politician or person of the cloth would say and you all know where that takes us.
I know. I need some organisation, someone to guide me. A sign. Some direction.
I have that already. It's called tomorrow. Mind you, it does concern me a bit that I don't know what's coming, but who does. Plan all you like, people, but you are no better of than the next bloke. We can't determine the future.
As for the sign? I took a picture. That way I can always be reminded of where I was at the time, where I could have come from and a possible pathway to somewhere else.
What did I finally do? Does it matter? Whatever I did got me here and I'm OK with that.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
We can't know everyone. We barely know ourselves. Past our own person introspection we have a few people we say we know intimately. Family, loved ones, close friends. Beyond that we are familiar with the behaviour and mannerisms of some colleagues, acquaintences and the neighbour whose dog persists in barking at the most inconvenient hours. As the circle broardens, we form nodding relationships with enough people to fill a pub on a Sunday afternoon. Then there is the facial recognition to which a name remains elusive, even when they stop to chat. As for the rest, they are strangers.
What does a stranger hold for us? A fragmentary glimpse at another life? A reflection of ourselves? A sense of loneliness or belonging? Deja voi? Whatever it is, it's just like us. A moment of wonder, connection, understanding of what it is like to be human.
Friday, July 25, 2014
"Don't be a mug", his siblings called. "You get lost and Mum will kill us", they called, into the wind, carrying the words to a disparate place.
Thomas knew his way. He paid no heed to their pathetic and desperate cries. He'd been this way many times. He had conquered his fears and stood his ground against his own insecurities.He feared least of all, what would happen to his brothers and sisters if he didn't return. That wasn't his fate: that was theirs. His fate was ahead, among the endless playground of The Dunes. He knew he must do this thing one more time. Thomas rubbed his numbing fingers together and rid himself of their selfish thoughts. He smiled a knowing smile, more to himself than those at bay, and stood his solid ground. He turned westward towards the dunes and allowed the icy wind to push him across the cold, damp sand. With a feeling of contempt and arrogance, he did not look back yet he could see their faces in his minds eye, as if for the last time, clear and concerned, their plaintive cries swallowed by the sound of the raging surf.
The line of dunes stretched to the horizon, broken only by the blow-outs from the consistency of the North Wind, the estuary inlet and the abandoned boat shed, once used by his father, now used by vagrants and teenagers for their illicit activities. Not long ago he would hear the sounds of his father tinkering with the boat or stitching a sail with the muffled sound of BBC 2 in the background. A very out of tune whistle kept roughly in time with the music. Now, all he could hear was the giggles and groans of adolescents finding their way through uncompromising sexuality. Thomas's understanding of these matters was limited to what he saw and heard from his siblings. He wanted no part of it. He wasn't aware of any wrongness. He just knew is it involved change and he didn't like change. He wanted to hear his father's disjointed whistling once again. Thomas choked back a lump in his throat as he moved on towards the first break in the towering grass.
On reaching a vantage point, Thomas looked back. He was now well out of sight of anxious eyes. He could see the last house being swallowed by the sand and grasses. His security dissipated for a moment. He was testing himself against the dark thoughts that haunted him about this place. Stories he had heard, things he had imagined in his darkest dreams, warnings from his parents. A body had been found recently. A young child, partly decayed, he had heard in the whispers. Not yet identified but one, surely, of many who had entered and never returned. Thomas was old enough to know fairy tales from truth. He was afraid of neither. He knew what he needed to know. He didn't feel the pain of terror, only the anguish of not belonging. He didn't fit well with his peers. His family thought him distant and aloof. They called it defiance. He didn't know the meaning of the word but it was spoken in a manner which implied a disturbing distinction, as one might treat a book with big words; difficult to understand maybe.
Yet Thomas understood much of what others didn't. He understood the nature of things and the way he fitted with it. He saw himself as part of all things. When he felt the wind on his face he became the wind. When he climbed the dune against the sliding sand he felt his feet dig into the dune and he became the dune. When it rained, he played in its wetness and let it soak into his pale skin. If he became cold, he accepted that as what the cold should feel like and he reveled in its likeness. If pain came with it, he knew it should hurt and accepted it; adored it, almost. Thomas knew this is the way it should be.
Thomas moved on with no fear.
The first break came with the sound of water. The estuary emptied into the sea here. The water was cold and clear and fresh. The tide didn't reach this far up the beach and only the rains kept the creek flowing. Thomas had never known it to dry up. It wasn't deep but Thomas chose his point of crossing carefully. He could see the edge of town upstream and thought of his mother returning from work and settling in front of the TV before dinner. She would call him once or twice and he wouldn't answer. She knew he wouldn't. He knew she knew. Thomas would appear in good time, when the plates were set at the table and the smell of food filled the house. After dinner, Thomas would return to where ever he had been and so would his mother. At the end of the night Thomas's mother would tuck him in and pat his head. "Sleep well, Thomas. Sleep well." And he would.
Once he had navigated the stream Thomas had a clear run at The Dunes. There were times when he could not see the horizon. His small frame struggled with the steepness of the paths. He gripped the long grasses for support, occasionally pulling clumps from their footing, causing him to loose his also. He struggled for breath on the uphill climbs and slid down the other side with exhilaration. Sand accumulated in his shoes and scratched at his feet. Sharp blades of grass cut at his face and hands. He licked blood from a graze on his arm. the was a tightness in his chest he had felt only once before. The tightness hurt in a good way, like eating too much. "Too much of a good thing" he had heard his father say. Thomas kept on as if he was being pursued. He felt the anxiety running swiftly behind him, grasping at his back; wanting to hold him back. he would have no part of it. Thomas knew his future and there was no stopping him.
The door closed slowly. Thomas waited another ten seconds before gasping for breath. He hurled himself into the sand towards the sea and ran until he dropped, exhausted, terrified, ashamed. He had known yet he has faltered.
Today was his last chance to redeem himself to himself. He knew nothing could harm him and he must face that reality one more time. He knew he was ready. He stepped forward without haste.
I knew that boy; the one who knew everything. He's gone now, lost in the dunes, lost to the wind and the sand and the sea. I don't know if he ever fulfilled his quest to complete himself. I've not seen him since that day when The Dunes swallowed him and left no trace. Maybe he's still out there. Proving something, testing his truth, pushing the limits just a bit more. Maybe he just grew up. If you have time, go to The Dunes and search. At least you might find out something you didn't know.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
The outfielder, although part of the team, knows that the further afield he is the less likely he is to be involved. He can watch, from afar, the strategies of the game, only needing to show a moment of activity if the ball moves in his general direction, knowing full well that a more dedicated player will take care of matters; someone closer to the pitch and the conversation between the power brokers.
The outfielder can take to his own thought. He can listen to the crowd, hear the clutter of cups in preparation for tea, contemplate a temperate moment, consider his perspective. The team has their eye on the ball. He can hardly see the ball. The team is organised and re-organised. He holds fast to his position. The team is tense and ready. He stands calm and relaxed.
The outfielder is a player of a different sort. Like a tentative child, he stands back and waits. For the moment, he is content to be there among the green fields and not on the hardened pitch. He might be the first for tea and the last on the oval but he is the only man who can see the whole game within his single vision. He is a wise man to watch and wonder.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I'm given to think that life isn't all that complicated after all, in spite of what we hear. Standing in water up to the shoulders or floating with mates is a long established pastime that will satisfy the most active child. 60 years ago I did the same. 60 years before that my father would have found a creek to float in. And before that, his father would have fathomed the shores of Brighton or Blackpool.
How far back do we need to go to find children not playing in the pools of life.
We are not much different to our ancestors. Small gifts bring great pleasure. When it is free it has a sweeter taste.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
The skin is beginning to show signs of wear and tear as well. Blemishes appear in peculiar places, rashes expand on exposed surfaces. Nowhere is to be found, an area of freshness and elasticity. Hair grows from orifices and falls from pinnacles.
Leakage is a way of life among the vesicles of body fluid. Containers meant to hold no long do so. Those which are meant to empty, rigidly resist.
I make strange sounds when I move and even stranger ones when I don't. My travels are limited to a radius of running distance to the nearest convenience.
Shutdown is imminent. May it be gentle. There will be no recycling here.
What does a frog think it is?
I'm inclined to think it doesn't care much about what it is. A frog just is. It may not even be aware of that.
It's needs are simple. Eat, keep wet, avoid predators (although I can't really see myself eating one), amplexise. It's on full auto as far as I can see. It has few concerns for the modern world. No memories to share, no remorse, no mortgage, no family attachments or prejudices. There is no striving for happiness, or any endeavour to understand the world, or do good, or find itself.
There is no joy in being a frog.No guilt, concern or empathy either. There is no frog God.
Frogs do not need guidance or therapy.
They have no conscience. Nor are that conscious of what happens past their sensory perception.
I'd rather be a frog than a prince.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
In the light of a declining economy, the shopkeeper may consider and reconsider if it is worth keeping the sign up over the door. He looks around at what he has done and what he has that remains. He reflects on why he began this path and where it has led him. He is now in a place where the memories are still strong and binding, yet the future is now a different place to what he once saw it as. He looks at what goods remain and catches a glance at a customer browsing among the reduced items, looking for a bargain or a special ingredient for a idea he has in mind.
The customers are different now. They are from another time, a new time. They see the world differently and know what they want. They always have, only now they come and go, kicking tyres and looking at their reflections in the shiny surfaces. Once, they would stop for a while, talk of the weather, lend their woes, stay long enough to leave behind a hint of perfume, a scrape of mud on the mat and a shake of rain from the sleeting storms outside. They were not just customers. They became familiar figure to the shopkeeper. He knew them by name, by nature, by the time of day. They came for more than goods and shackles. They came for company and comfort. They were never in a hurry. They had time beyond the requirements and rigors of the life outside the shop. The bell on the door would chime them in and out at their leisure. The lights went out when the last customer had finished. The shopkeeper would watch their figure pass through the doors to the waiting street, knowing they would return; possibly tomorrow, maybe next week or ext winter when they had once more run out of fire starters or canned soup. If they never returned he didn't worry. He would see their figure pass by from time to time, stopping long enough to catch a glimpse of the specials in the window. Not their time yet, the shopkeeper would think. Maybe next time.
Over the years some never did come back. They had moved to a new place: the brash supermarket down the mall, a new life in a new town, too old to walk the distance, or buried in a graveyard on the edge of town. No matter. There was always someone moving in around the corner who preferred to musk and dust of familiarity than the bling of teenagers dashing about the aisles at Morrison's.
Not any more. The shop is quiet now. The place is disturbed by occasional customers. They rush in for their cigarettes, a bag of crisps and to escape from the rain or police. They lurk in the store and the security camera, not trusting anyone, snapping at an offer of assistance, minding their own business.
The shopkeeper assesses what he has with a content and aging eye. He remembers the first customer coming through the door, wide eyed and eager to buy. More followed. There was purpose in what the shopkeeper had done. He felt good.
He is still content but knows he must move on. The customers do need more than he can offer now. He also needs to satisfy an inner yearning. Something personal and passionate gnaws at him. It's a hungry beast that must be satisfied. He has felt it grow from the embryo it was to the glutton it has become; selfish, demanding, relentless. It is build on his own desires and needs instead of serving others. They are simple ambitions now, but none the less in control. Mellow, resting, peaceful, quiet. A time to allow the gathering of thoughts and the accumulation of a lifetime of serving others into a moment of serving himself.
The door is locked, the lights go out for the last time. The shopkeeper is no more. He is now the shopper, on his way to the market where the shelves are filled with the future.
There are no regrets. Each of you will find another place. Each of you will continue your path to where ever it was you intended to go. We will pass in the street and nod as we did. We will pass the time of day and reflect on what we did. We will remember with fondness. That is why we did this thing.
Monday, April 21, 2014
There's barely enough light to see the way. Strangers keep bumping into me. Keep moving, I say to myself. You'll get there, I repeat. One step at a time. Home soon, where the rooms stand still and the children ignore me. I've had enough of this day. There. I'm home. Rest.
It's such a futile thing: hope. There is no act of doing, other than the thought itself, yet we expect action in return. Hoping has no connection to the physical. It remains with us. Hope doesn't built castles or save lives. Hope doesn't feed a famine or give warmth to a chilled body. Hope is a preservation of the wishful thinker, the individual who knows no other way. It is also an excuse for the unwilling and a fragile thread to hang on to. Hope doesn't connect. It leaves as greater chasm as it found. Hoping is doing nothing. Hoping is lost on the needy. Hope is for those who can well do without it. Hope will not ward away the ravages of time. Nor will it fend off the attack from enemies. Be thoughtful, then find another way.
Looks like a nice day. Not many people on the street yet. I'll head over to DJ's first. They have some specials running. I need a new pair of shoes. Lunch at Drizzle with Wendy. That'll be nice. I hope she doesn't bring her sister. She's a pain. Never gives consideration to anyone but herself. Completely oblivious to the world around her. Some people. I need a new handbag as well. This one is looking so tatty.
Being upwardly mobile seems to be the thing to do. Aspire, perspire, achieve, be better than the next bloke, be on top, break the glass ceiling, be successful. Along with that will come admiration, wealth,recognition, respect and even happiness. If it's the penthouse we are all aiming for, who is left to take care of the basement? Who can be happy on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder? Is contentment a poor substitute for aspiration? Can achievement be attained simply by being there and getting the job done?
Next time you reach the stairs, take a walk down and see what you might have left behind. It might be better than you thought.
The image projected onto the retina of the eye is inverted. ie, it is up side down.
It's by no slight of hand or magic that the brain puts it the right way up. Not only is it an easier way of getting around, it does put everyone in the same perspective.
Mind you, we could get used to seeing the world up the other way. A few days of seeing everything topsy tervy and we'd definitely know up from down. We quickly adapt. We can learn to do things according to how it appears quite easily.
In other aspects of our life, we are not so willing to give way or give in to the inevitable. We all experience situations when everything seems to have done an about face or we are going against the grain, swimming up stream or caught in a revolving door.
It feels like we are about to fall on our head.
Don't panic. You're just looking through a rain drop.