The Pondering

This morning I was asked by my friend Michael [@elnon66 on Instagram] what I felt the pros and cons were behind the major EU Referendum vote today. So, I answered as honestly, and humourlessly [not easy!], as I felt I could. But I couldn’t entirely forget Cristiano Ronaldo …

That’s a potentially long answer, Michael. So, for me, I’ll keep it simplistically nutshelled.

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The Ponderers

The Leave campaign have offered absolutely nothing beyond vague jingoism, goblets of fear and scattergun facts. The Remain campaign have offered very little beyond vague stronger together platitudes, goblets of fear and scattergun facts. The facts, such as they are, have been all but lost, blurred and twisted to have become largely meaningless.

However, I will say this, I have a strong sense that if the climate of the irrational fear of immigration – and in extremis, pure xenophobia leeching into racism – were to be taken out of the equation, I honestly believe the vote wouldn’t be even remotely close. And this is one of the reasons I’ve grown cynical of the politics; the fear. Fundamentally, it makes for poor reasoning and therefore equally poor decisions.

I will be voting Remain for the simple reason that I refuse to be kowtowed by those irrational politics of fear; and because I genuinely feel that the future for all of us – not just Europe – will ultimately be best served by collaboration, compromise and a shared sense of unified purpose.

And on a lighter note, I can’t resist but leave you with the petulant man-child that is Cristiano Ronaldo’s dance following Hungary’s third goal against Portugal yesterday:

 

 

Uh, Cristiano … {Wags finger then points to scattered things } … now pick up your toys and put them back in your box, there’s a good lad.

A Momentary Lapse Of Reason

This stuff is beginning to simply write itself …

 

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I Have Something Important To Say …

 

My playfully, favourite political news story of the week was when a YouGov poll revealed that, of the entire, influential G-20 nations, only one would support Donald Trump as a presidential candidate: Russia. This news was swiftly followed by the coercive endorsement of Trump’s presidency by a certain Vladimir Putin. And it made me think, what a mindf*ck for the dim-witted Republican demographic to deal with: “We’re supported by communists now?!” In the confusion they might end up shooting themselves in the face.

Relax. In rides one Bobby Knight to introduce Trump at a subsequent Indiana rally, endorsing him during a meandering and befuddled rant as the man to press the nuclear button and become the fourth great president after Truman [the third] did the same … Knight only just pulled up short of the character in The Simpsons who yells “Yee-haw” at the end of each statement before firing two revolvers in the air. 

The brilliant mind that is Armando Iannucci writes the acclaimed US political satire, Veep [starring the wonderful Julia Louis-Dreyfus – unapologetic namedrop in a hapless attempt to gain more blog hits! 🙂 ], then, with the advent of Trump, American politics turns reality into pure satire.

The Shakespearean and The Heathen

I first met Alice when she was a fragile 14-year-old. Her life had become more than a little crazy following the sudden loss of her father at a tragically young age, for both of them.

At the time, Alice’s mother, Linda, was briefly working with my wife, Sue, at the local university. And, unknowingly, it seems the fates had conspired.

Alice had lost her father a few days after Christmas and in the months that followed, as an only child, had understandably lost a bit of faith and belief in the world; her world turned upside down and inside out. It seems neither mother nor Alice were coping with the grief too well. Alice, I’d been told, had yet to cry.

It was early that following summer when Alice came to see a gig with Sue and I and, presumably, having decided I wasn’t wholly unhinged [an early misjudgment], subsequently agreed to come out and have a coffee and a chat with me. [For anyone reading who might not know, although not qualified, I’ve shared a room with a high school counsellor for the past decade. So, used to being around vulnerable teenagers, both Sue and mum thought Alice might open up to me.] Alice had been brought up within a philosophically stiff-upper-lip background. Be strong. It seems emotion wasn’t something she was able to fully express. I’m not sure how long we were in the tiny, crowded coffee shop that day, but at some point the emotional dam burst; many curious heads were turned. Eventually, we were standing outside as the world swirled around us and I offered her a hug. As we stood on the pavement I nodded back in the direction of the coffee-drinkers, many still looking our way … “If you can cry in there, you can cry anywhere!”

Alice has cried quite a lot since then … sitting on the couch; lying on our bed; in the car; while out walking the dog; and in one or two more coffee shops. She’s quite good at it now! But we’ve laughed many times, too. What I hadn’t expected those seven summers ago, was to have made a special little friend – which she’s grown into. There was that slightly uneasy period, for a while, as Alice grew closer to both Sue and I, where I didn’t feel comfortable at the thought of replacing her father. We talked about it and reached the playful compromise of her being my young wife instead … I still attach a delighted mischievousness at some of the expressions such an introductory label engendered from a few; particularly as Alice shares my absurdist sense of humour.

Since then, we’ve passed a number of life milestones and shared many wonderful moments. And I doubt any moved me more than the day I found out – after the event – that in one of her final classes at high school, the teacher had arranged a show and tell: pupils brought in various objects and described their relationship with them to the class. Alice simply took in a photograph of me! I’m told that she had most of the class in tears, including the teacher, vividly describing the sadness behind our meeting before alighting on the significance to her of the next couple of years … a thought that still moves me today.

The following is a video I made for Alice’s 16th birthday that summer after a photographic session in her home. Arguably most remarkable for the fact that I was able to use virtually every image that we shot that day.

 

I’ve chosen to write this now because today is Alice’s 21st birthday. Another milestone. But it’s become an extra significant milestone, as earlier this week Alice phoned to say she’d just completed a Skype interview with King’s College London and they’d immediately offered her a place on their prestigious MA in Shakespeare Studies “Not only will you draw on the literary expertise of a world-class university, but you’ll be taught within the renowned Globe Theatre, only metres from where Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed.”

When I first met Alice it seemed she was destined to become a barrister or lawyer; something her father had potentially wanted for her. Since meeting me I’ve wholly supported her in her will to simply become … Alice. And as a Shakespearean heathen myself I’m happy to clarify this direction has garnered absolutely no coercive prompting on my part! However, if there’s one thing I hope that Adrian [if he is able to look down from somewhere] and I both share in this notable of week’s … it’s a sense of pride at seeing Alice finding her way with such intelligence and passion.

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There’s a place I go 

When I’m alone

Do anything I want

Be anyone I wanna be

– Newton ‘Shakespeare’ Faulkner

 

 

Who knows or even begins to understand why people come and go in our lives on this earth? The only thing I do know is that people occasionally swing into each other’s orbits for myriad of inexplicable fateful reason. And, undoubtedly, the best thing is being able to recognise the special ones when they do … and cherishing the journey you share.

This blog wouldn’t be complete without my favourite Shakespearean quotation: “I thought I’d [finish] by reading a poem by Shakespeare, but then I thought, why should I? He never reads any of mine.” – Spike Milligan.

For my special girl. For my special friend. To the future. Happy 21st Alice. x x x

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The Shakespearean and The Heathen

The Calendar : 2016 : Final Update

G’day folks. The final post and the final day of bidding for The Auction of my 2016 calendar of street photography with, as I write, approximately 36 hours of time remaining to make a bid…

 

The Calendar 2016 Jul-Dec
Images July-December

 

Note: You can see the images for January-June here.

Just a reminder that there will be just ONE of these objects circulating in the proverbial wild and will probably set to become one of the most collectible objects since a car made from cheese was bought by an obsessive cheese enthusiast. [Although, in a moment of weakness, I understand he subsequently ate his investment.]

I will be posting any relevant updates on the bidding process at the foot of this post and via Instagram, Flickr, F*c*book and Twitter. You can make bids in any location or via email and text and I will keep all locations up to date with the prevailing highest bid.

I propose to end bidding at 11:59pm GMT on 21st December and will ship the calendar with its heartfelt personal message the following day – hopefully this should ensure delivery by the New Year anywhere in the world.

 

Current Highest Bid: US $150

[Approx. conversion: Euros 138 and UKP 101]

[Bid by Christa in AmericaNote: If you’d rather not have your name publicly announced with any bid please let me know.]

The Calendar : 2016 : Update

Hey everyone, just a quick update on The Auction for my calendar. These are the first six months of images to be found on this highly desirable unbridled joyous “astonishingly excellent”* … uh, too much?

 

The Calendar 2016 Jan-Jun
Calendar Images : January-June

 

*  “Astonishingly excellent…” Yes, dear reader, not my words but the words of Donald Trump’s personal physician, Harold Bornstein. Admittedly, he was actually describing Donald Trump’s alleged physical health rather than, well, either his presidential campaign or my calendar, but I’m confident he would be equally eulogising. Meanwhile, Trump’s barber was said to have declined to comment.

Imagine being Donald Trump’s personal physician. I’ll, uh, just leave you with that thought for a moment …  …  … Okay! Okay, you can stop. It makes the prospect of, uh, unwrapping the calendar after it lands in your mailbox more appealing now, though, eh?!

The above images will furnish the eyes with pleasure between the months of January-June. You can read the full introduction to this auction idea by reading the accompanying blog/video here.

Current Highest Bid: 47 Euros

[Approx. conversion: US $52 and UKP 34]

[Bid by Valeria in Italy … Note: If you’d rather not have your name publicly announced with any bid please let me know.]