Aug 182014
 

I think I’ve come up with doable and realistically achievable Fifty Five by Fifty Five list. From publishing it today I have 6 years, 10 months, 8 days or 2504 days. The list isn’t in any order, but, I know there’s a method to the madness.

In bold, the task is in progress.

Struck-through, I’ve completed the task.

  1. Give up smoking.
  2. Eat alone in three different restaurants c/w starter, drink and main. A Chinese, a posh restaurant and a bistro. Not rushed!
  3. Take a date for a progressive meal out; starter, main and dessert in different restaurants.
  4. Get a book published. Either photography or biography or part and part. What Cornish Cuties might have been had I stayed in Cornwall but called something like London Lovelies and get back to my roots with transsexuals and proper glamour in fetish and latex wear.
  5. Get the damn Kickstarter project live!
  6. Travel to each of the Continents; Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica.
  7. Kayak the Thames from it’s highest navigable point to the Estuary.
  8. Visit all three highest points in the UK. Scotland, Wales and England.
  9. Climb Black Willy, kayak around Kynance Cove, wild swim at Golitha Falls and three other spots before I leave Cornwall.
  10. Get PR represented within 3 months of living in London
  11. Complete the Hyde Park and Piccadilly ‘Cross’ shoots within 3 months of living in London.
  12. Wild Swim at least 10 places in Roger Deakin’s book Waterlog
  13. Learn another language.
  14. Experiment with a voluntary role in a workplace for a week or two.
  15. Reach at least 3* in White Water Kayaking.
  16. Have a nostalgic water fight with Nikki in Greenwich Park. Greenwich market for a drink afterwards.
  17. Borrow a set of clubs and play a round of golf with Steve and Dad.
  18. Learn the basics of sign-language: Enough to converse and work with deaf people photographically.
  19. Take a train to somewhere interesting maybe a foreign train.
  20. Go to a music festival c/w with camping or bed & breakfast.
  21. Take a cookery course.
  22. Finish two 365 photo projects. One on an iPhone and one on a DSLR.
  23. Go for a picnic somewhere random or incredibly scenic.
  24. Try a bunch of new and possibly repulsive food (Chicken feet, sheep eyes, head cheese, squirrel).
  25. Go to 10 photographic/sex industry networking events in a year.
  26. Read at least 12 novels in a year.
  27. Go to at least one music gig a month for a year.
  28. Do at least one random act of kindness per week for a year.
  29. Take a photo of 26 people with names starting from A-Z.
  30. Write a will.
  31. Inspire 5 people to do similar lists; 101/1001 or 33/33 etc.
  32. Redesign/revamp my website.
  33. At least triple my Twitter followers each year.
  34. Write for this blog at least twice a month.
  35. Drive to Spain, Portugal or Prague camping along the way. Stay for two weeks at the destination.
  36. Buy an original piece of Art.
  37. When I have the finance and the freedom, live for three days like Luke Rhinehart’s ‘Diceman’ and see where I end up.
  38. Spend a week without the computer, TV or Facebook. Can only use my phone to make and receive calls.
  39. Spend a week detoxing and then eat vegetarian for the rest of the month.
  40. Give up extra sugar, sweets and chocolate for a month.
  41. Complete all the numbered Final Fantasy games in order obviously missing out 11 and 14 as they are MMO’s.
  42. Every year, at the beginning of January, donate to charity (clothing, books etc. rather than money).
  43. For each of the 7 years plant a different tree somewhere.
  44. Clear all my debts and live credit free for three months.
  45. Attend a foreign festival – Maybe the Kanamara Matsuri, The Japanese festival of the steel phallus in Kawasaki.
  46. Get my tattooed heart covered up and get at least the two tats I want on each of my calves. Also get a tattoo done traditionally with bamboo needles.
  47. Spend 3 weeks at a Buddhist retreat or somewhere equally as spiritual.
  48. Visit The Museu Picasso, in Barcelona, Spain.
  49. Get published in a ‘national’ publication at least once each year.
  50. Stencil graffiti my face onto at least 10 well known London streets and photograph the results as proof.
  51. Stay awake for 24 hours on a ‘date’ and watch the sunrise with said date.
  52. Find my ‘Happy Place’.
  53. Watch 50 documentaries in a year thereby (hopefully) increasing my knowledge.
  54. Do the London to Brighton bike ride.
  55. Do the Thames ‘Kayakathon’.
Mar 232013
 

So many things are going on in my head right now. I’ve been reading teh interwebs for two days straight and I’m feeling like my dislike for people in general is justified. Of course, ‘teh interwebs’ (sic) is where the trolls live so I’m probably being unjust if I base the whole of humanity on a few, but still.

What made me write this post is a thread I read on an IMDb forum regarding the film ‘Monsters’ [2010] written and directed by Gareth Edwards and shot for around $15,000. It’s an awesome movie considering the low budget.

Filmed on a Sony EX3 with a Nikon 50 MM Lens the director used natural light almost exclusively except for a couple of tiny LED lights for when it was pitch black. The effects were done in Adobe CS4 and the editing in Premiere. The majority of filming was shot with just a sound guy, the director and the 2 main leads. Most of the extras were locals and a lot of the scenes and locations were shot opportunistically.

Awesome! But by fuck were the trolls out to get this one on the forums.

I replied recently to another thread on another site I use to people who were criticising a short animation. Most of them were not criticising the story or the characters, they were criticising the actual cinematography and the techniques used. This was on a gaming site.

My comment was simply; “if you can do better go out and do it. If not, have respect for the man that did. If you actually have the skill to do a better job and think that the film maker could have done things better or improve on his technique, send the director an email and offer to help him.”

Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. I know I welcomed it as a photographer. If someone obviously had more talent than me I learnt from them if I could and listened to what they had to say. I ignored the ‘I could do that’ trolls. If they could, they would’ve and I would be copying them

The two things that got to me on the ‘Monsters’ forum were 1) the thread criticising the lead male for portraying a professional photographer badly and 2) criticising him (the photojournalist) for going with the girl (that he didn’t know) in the first place (into territory infected by the ‘Monsters’ of the title).

Amongst the many reasons Scoot McNairy was criticised for playing a photojournalist badly was that in one of the last scenes he just stands and watches the monsters rather than shooting them (with his camera). That led me to thinking about the incident I was involved with only two days past. And. Bear in mind I ‘am’ (or was) a professional photographer.

20 March 2013. I was on the King Harry Ferry (a chain ferry) crossing the river Fal when I watched a car roll off of the concrete slipway, onto the riverbank and stop with it’s front wheels in the water. I was on the opposite side of the Fal. The driver, an elderly male had apparently (I was later to learn) stepped out of his car to take a photo and either didn’t apply the handbrake properly or the handbrake failed. As of writing there hasn’t been any more information.

The driver and one other male seemed to dither about by the car, one of them wandered back across the slipway to a moored and beached dinghy with an outboard before sauntering back. Neither male looked overtly worried in so much as they weren’t about to get their feet wet. As we (the people on the ferry) watched, the car began to slide into the water. The driver looked panicked and the skipper of the ferry was already on the radio and the phone to the emergency services. A manager from the ferry company had got into a small boat and was making his way across the river towards the scene of the accident.

A disabled woman was trapped in the car! With two dogs. As it slipped under the water.

When the ferry was about thirty feet from where the car had probably settled underwater I was begging the guy in the boat above the car to throw me a rope so that I could dive down and see what I could do for the woman in the car. He refused and refused. I begged. His reasoning was that the water was too deep, 25/30 feet at that point, and that the visibility was nil and that the river was tidal. I knew it would be too dangerous without some kind of safety line myself and was feeling awful and frantic that I wanted to help but wasn’t being allowed to.

When it was obvious that the ferry could dock and cause no more difficulties to the car it pulled onto the slipway and having the only four wheel drive with a tow bar (I drive a Land Rover) I figured that if a rope could be hooked onto the car I might be able to tow it out of the river. The guy on the small boat was desperately trying to hook the car, which he couldn’t see, and was only approximately sure of it’s location, with his anchor. If he could manage it, I could try to tow it.

Two inshore lifeboats arrived. Neither having a diver they agreed that trying to hook the car with an anchor and me towing it was probably the best idea available at that time.

Two offshore lifeboats and a helicopter arrived but still no diver. The best shot was a local mussel ‘free’ diver named Matt Vernon, (a fucking hero!) he spent ages in just a wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins diving down in the nil visibility, and near freezing water trying his best to get some kind of line on the car. At one point he did and the line was tied to my car by the coastguard on the shore and I was instructed where to drive and how slow. I moved perhaps 15/20 feet before the car got stuck (I was later told) on the ferry chain and my clutch began to burn out.

The rope was then tied to the winch of a fire engine and at that point it couldn’t tow the car out of the water either.

This was perhaps three quarters of an hour after the car had gone into the water with the woman.

This is a précis of the whole story. There had also been an off duty policeman directing traffic, a community police officer trying to co-ordinate things on shore. The ferry standing offshore with two ambulances and a fire engine. A fire engine on the submerged cars side of the water with two coastguard trucks, four police cars and an ambulance.

Including the emergency services on the opposite side of the river, on the river and in the air there were eighteen vehicles. Not one of them had a trained and equipped diver.

Cornwall has the most coastline of any UK county and this local region, Carrick, is one of it’s most coastal with tourism and fishing both playing a major role. The nearest major town; Falmouth (along with the Carrick Roads area where the river Fal and river Percuil meet) has the third deepest natural harbour in the world.

EIGHTEEN emergency vehicles, at a coastal emergency, and not one diver.

Again, this is a précis. I struggle to think about that afternoon and have prayed for the man that lost his wife and dogs. For the woman that died and for the dogs and for all that were involved and that might be feeling a little raw for their involvement.

As a man, I hope I did everything I could to help. I beat myself up for not getting into the water and forcing the issue of the ferry guy giving me a rope but I know he did the right thing by refusing; while I was giving a statement to the police the officer said that the only thing more galling than losing someone to an incident like this (and he’d never, in ten years been to an incident like this) was losing two people when the person that tried to help ended up dying too. It’s a sobering thought.

As a photographer. As the only photographer on the incident side of the river. I actually considered being able to get photos that no other journalist would be able to get and wondered the financial value of said photos…

Ultimately, I decided against it. As a photographer I decided against it. This wasn’t a tsunami or 9/11 where the disaster was worldwide news. This was a local, personal tragedy and as such my role was to help and not to document a media event that would not have world wide ramifications and photography would not be part of it’s history.

Thinking about the forum comment that sparked this blog post, unless you’re there, unless you’re a photographer you have no idea how you’re going to react to a situation or whether you feel the need to document it. By saying that ‘not taking photos’ is a bad representation of a photojournalist the troll has no idea. I was there and I didn’t take photos. To not take photos shows humanity in some situations and an actors job is to be as naturally human as possible.

Troll… You have been pwned!

As for item #2. Why did the photojournalist decide to go cross country (across a monster infected area) with a girl that he’d just met?

I’d like to think that all things being equal. In that situation, I might make that decision too. Like Luke Rhinehart. The ‘Diceman’, sometimes you have to throw the dice and take a risk. Even if the dice are metaphorical, sometimes you have to roll them and do something unexpected. As the events of the 20th have shown, life is too often, too short. We have no idea when ours will run out and one has to make the most of each moment. One minute you can be admiring the scenery and within ten minutes either yourself or your family and pets can be dead.

Dead is forever. This moment, this life is fleeting. Even your allotted eighty or so years, seen in perspective, in time, is but an eye-blink. What percentage is your allotted life, of time that has gone before, since the beginning of time until the end of time with the implosion of the universe? It is an infinitesimally small amount of time. That’s all you have, all you will ever have and you don’t even know how long that time is.

Live! Live in the moment. Live for today. Take risks, take calculated gambles and live. Experience life. Enjoy life and if you don’t, find a way to. Find someone to share it with. Take a risk and talk to the girl you feel you’ll have no chance with because the chances are she feels just as insecure as you do. Take that walk in the countryside. Stop and smell the flowers. Play with your kids and pets. Take a holiday. Spend some money recklessly, swim in the ocean, hike cross country. Talk to a stranger. Look out to sea and smell the salt. Tell your folks you love them, eat ice-cream in the winter, try sushi for the first time. Just fucking enjoy and experience life because it is too fucking short not to.

Why did the journalist go cross-country with a girl he’d just met (but probably fancied)? Because he could!


Feb 042013
 

So the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, opposes gay marriage?

That’s fine…The Bible is the word of God and Leviticus 18:22 states that homosexuality is an abomination and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. No more argument needed… I’m sorry that I argued ‘for’ gay marriage and tolerance for homosexuality when I was at Alpha meetings and suffering a crisis of faith.

However, I’m going to write a letter to Justin and ask him for answers to the following questions I’ve also worried over recently:

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my new neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter Faye into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what does he think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking a few, but most women take offense.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to the French, but not to Germans. Can Justin clarify? Why can’t I own a German?

5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath.. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can Justin settle this?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that as I grow older and perhaps due to my diabetes I now wear reading glasses. Does my vision really have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, (I’m actually a skinhead!), even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die? Should I kill myself too?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves? I also enjoy pork scratchings with a pint. I’m guessing this is a double sin?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I’m sure he’s researched these things extensively, so I am confident he can help. I’m going to also thank him again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging…


Jan 112013
 

The opening passage from what is currently chapter ten of my upcoming book. At the moment in ‘first draft’ stage and un-edited…

I read a passage in Jon Richardson’s book It’s Not Me, It’s You:

I could quite happily get through a 40-year marriage without ever suspecting that my partner went to the toilet at all…”

I totally know where Jon was coming from. Totally. I’m all for sick and inappropriate jokes. Niggers, Pakis, the Welsh. All are fair game. Necrophillia, Peadophillia and the Welsh shagging sheep can be pretty funny in the right circles at the right time, but toilet talk? I just don’t. I’m very British about going to the toilet. One pretends one doesn’t. Of course, everyone shits. I’d just rather they didn’t and if they have to I’d rather they didn’t tell or show me. A wee I can deal with just. As long as the girl (or boy) I’m with is having a delicate tinkle and not pissing like a horse. I can even pee in public. In a wood on a long walk with friends as long as I’m behind the statutory tree. Shit is another thing altogether. A steaming pile of smelly turd that scrapes down the toilet pan leaving greasy streaks that needs to be removed as soon as possible. A lingering stink, from some people so bad one can almost taste it. Shit is awful!

Imagine then my horror, when dog-sitting for Elizabeth, (that’s Ee-Liz-A-Beth not Elizab’th) to find that not one toilet in her house had a loo brush. Just a bottle of bleach.

“Loo brushes are disgusting” she replied when I plucked up (from somewhere very deep inside) the courage to enquire why not.

“What the fuck! Greasy shit streaks over white porcelain aren’t?” I thought.

“Just put bleach down the pan” she carried on.

Yeah right, ‘cos that will clean the bowl in about, what? A day? As well as the dogs I was ’sitting’ I was also looking after two teenaged girls. I was horrified to think either one of them might use the bathroom after me, an inevitability, and find my horrid brown stains and know it was me and not the others sister. Even the Queen shits. I know that. It’s just that I doubt she advertises it or wants a phone-camera pic of her last one showing up on Twitter. I bet the Queen has a loo brush in every and each of her two hundred or so toilets across all of her estates.

Like the Queen, in my house, I have a loo brush in every toilet. All one of them. I, like Ee-Liz-A-Beth find them pretty disgusting but (unlike Elizabeth) a necessary evil. To reduce the vileness I have bleach in the container you put the brush in. That way I figure the brush is permanently being cleaned. Sure, it’s going to get shitty but at least I’m attempting to lessen the germs and vileness.

I’d loved Elizabeth for years. I mean really loved. Really really loved. Could I live in a house where the loo brush was banned, even for a short two weeks? I was going to find out. I wondered to myself, if things had been different, would Elizabeth and I have argued about loo brushes had we ever lived together in our own house. We had certainly discussed living together once-upon-a-time. Who would have won? Would I have capitulated and lived in a loo brush free house, buying gallons of bleach on a weekly basis? I have no idea.

I’d love to know what you guys think…


Dec 152012
 

Colour me wrong but I’m a bit tired now of hearing about how Jacintha Saldanha committed suicide. Today it was second billing on the news after the Connecticut shooting tragedy.

Connecticut ‘IS’ a tragedy. It deserves to be news. My heart goes out to the parents that lost children; however old and also goes out to the survivors.

Jacintha Saldanha isn’t really news. Maybe it was, the first day, due to the connection with the Royal Family. But. Get over it already. Between 4000 and 6000 people commit suicide every year in the UK and the news doesn’t give a toss about them. Jacintha was obviously suffering some form of mental illness. Millions of people are.

The death of Jacintha is merely sad… For the news to be fair it should also list the names of the 11 to 17 other people that will also kill themselves today.