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 Forty Years a Punk finished and published. Get the secondary projects underway.

#5.      Get the damn Gofundme live!

#6.      Travel to each of the Continents; Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica.

#7.      Swim in at least 15 Lido’s over one year. (2017 – Parliament Hill Lido,

#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 one, two, three other spots before I leave Cornwall.

#10.    Get PR represented in London

#11.    Kayak on Hyde Park and and one of the Trafalgar Sq fountains.

#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.    See a Puffin in the wild.

#17.    Sing live on stage with an established Punk band. At least one complete song.

#18.    Get the Canon 1Ds MkIII, 1Dx or 5D, 16-35 f/2.8L III, 24-70 f/2.8L II, 85mm f/1.2L II, Studio Lights x’s 4, Backgrounds.

#19.    Take a train somewhere interesting maybe foreign.

#20.    Go to a music festival complete with camping or Bed and Breakfast.

#21.    Take a cookery course

#22.    Finish two 365 photo projects. One on iPhone and one on DSLR.

#23.    Go for a picnic somewhere random or incredibly scenic.

#24.    Try a bunch (10) of new and possibly repulsive food (Chicken feet, sheep eyes, head cheese, squirrel).

#25.    Go to 10 networking events in a year.

#26.    Read at least 12 novels in a year.

(2016 – Jan – The Prince Lestat [Anne Rice], Feb – Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys. [Viv Albertine], Mar – Japan’s Sex Trade [Peter Constantine], Apr – Shadowrun: Spells and Chrome [John Hellers] Fail!)

#27     Go to at least one music gig a month for a year.  

(2016 – The Damned 40th Anniversary at the RAH & Guest List, Killing Joke, The Members, Spizzenergi, Spizzology, Penetration, Pixies, Buzzcocks, The Tuts, LOCK, The Duel, Dead Men Walking, Department S, Ed Tudor Pole, Adam and the Ants, Healthy Junkies, Church of Eon, The Featherz, Tauru Trakker, Starsha Lee, Hazel O’Connor, Stiff Little Fingers, Fields of The Nephilim, Babymetal, Shonen Knife, Brian James and The Dickies.) 

(2017 – The Tuts, Spizzenergi, The Rezillos, Healthy Junkies, The Stranglers, The Ruts, Charlie Harper acoustic, Tara Rez, Möthballs, Italia 90, Screaming Dead, Future Daughters)

#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 a similar list – 101/1001 or 33/33 etc.

#32.    Redesign/revamp my website.

#33.    At least triple my Twitter or Instagram followers each year. 2016, 2017

#34.    Write for my blog at least twice a month.

#35.    Drive to Spain or Portugal camping along the way. Stay for two weeks at destination.

#36.    Buy an original piece of Art.

#37.    When I have the finances 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). 2016-17. 17-18

#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 and the two I want inside both forearms (Keys and Music). At least one tattoo done traditionally with bamboo needles.

#47.    John O’Groats to Land’s End with friends, no time limit, camping along the way.

#48.    Visit The Museu Picasso, in Barcelona, Spain.

#49.    Get published in a ‘national’ publication at least once each year. 2016 – Fail! 2017 – ?

#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 52 documentaries in a year thereby (hopefully) increasing my knowledge and inspiring me.

#54.    Do the London to Brighton bike ride.

#55.    Kayak around Ramsey Island in Pembrokeshire. Get to the Blue Lagoon and tombstone.


Feb 072012
 
Muffins

Muffins (Hipstamatic for iPhone)

200g Plain (not self raising) Flour
150g Caster Sugar
½ Teaspoon of Salt (I use sea-salt)
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder

85ml of Milk
80ml of Vegetable Oil
1 Large Egg

150g of mixed fruit (Raisins, Sultanas, Mixed Peel, Cranberries, Blueberries – Whatever). I personally use a similar mix to that which is used for Fruit Cakes or Christmas Cakes.

Alternatively for texture 130g of mixed fruit and 20g of chopped almonds. This option’s a doozy!

Sometimes I substitute 40g of the flour for finely chopped hazelnuts.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (the top four items). Doesn’t have to be fancy mixing, I use a wooden spoon, but make sure everything is mixed well.

In a jug, beat the milk, oil and egg until everything is combined well. Sometimes I add 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence.

Using the wooden spoon mix the liquid stuffs into the dry stuffs to make a batter. Don’t overdo the mixing… You’re not looking to blitz everything into extra smooth paste, just make sure everything is mixed well. If you scoop some up with the spoon it should drip off a bit like that ‘slime’ shit that was popular in the 80s. You definitely don’t want the batter runny like a liquid.

At this point, sometimes I add a couple of tablespoons of honey or golden syrup. Experiment!

Fold the dry fruit into the batter. Again, fold, not mix with a mixer.

Spoon the mix into large muffin cases. I find that 1 heaped tablespoon and 1 heaped teaspoon is ample per case. This recipe should fill about 8 cases.

I put the cases in a metal tray that’s made for small tarts/muffins. I guess there’s enough spaces in my tray for 15 cakes so I use 2 trays as to not crowd the muffins. I space them apart and use this tray to keep the muffin cases stable and roundish.

Bake for 20 mins in that preheated oven you preheated. Check if the muffins are done… A wooden cocktail stick pushed into the middle of a muffin should come out clean with no gooey stuff left on it.

Leave muffins to cool on a wire cake cooling rack or similar. Make a cup of tea and enjoy a neo-muffin afternoony snack. Yummy!

Dec 062011
 

What do you call a Professional Photographer without a camera? I was going to start this missive with a sentence containing the phrase ‘ex-photographer’ but somehow that didn’t work for me. Ex-photographer implies (to me at least) that I no longer ‘wish’ to be a photographer. That I am never going to take another picture or ever pick up a camera again.

Truth is; I am a Professional Photographer without the means to take a photograph. To push that truth a little further; I am also an artist without the means of creating art.

Times are hard the world over. Switch on the TV and one is bombarded with adverts asking you to help impoverished children in Africa, people the world over without food or clean water, mistreated animals and today I saw an advert asking me to help the victims of child marriages.

In the Western World it is almost impossible for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder although house prices are at an all time low. Gold prices have been as high as they’ve ever been yet the common-person does not have the money to invest, rather, judging by the amount of adverts, people are being actually being urged to sell their gold (to survive). The rich get richer! Inflation rises. The cost of food and fuels rise almost daily and now, because of the recent flooding in Thailand, hard-drive prices are set to soar, thus driving up the price of computing again.

Those same times that are hard globally are also being hard locally; having said that I’m a Professional Photographer without a camera it makes perfect sense that I’m incapable of earning a living as a photographer.

In fact, since moving to Cornwall, whether because of my terrible marketing skills, a run of bad luck or my refusal to work as anything other than a portrait photographer I have only had one paid gig. Even that was sold at a fraction of the price that my last London job cost the client.

I am a photographer without a camera because living in Cornwall, as I do, as many others do, requires a circus full of skills; One has to constantly juggle money and possessions. It is a fine balancing act to keep ones head above water, one is constantly trying to escape from poverty, one has to tame ones debtors and one constantly hides behind the tears of a clown.

The constant juggling of finances is the hardest. Rent, food, water, electricity, heating, pet bills, travel, broadband connection, cell phone, TV license, addictions and quality of life: Rent, because luckily I live in a hovel, is covered. As to the rest? The water board have taken me to court. Luckily, they are the one service that can’t disconnect you. Food is juggled with electricity is juggled with heating is juggled with the broadband etc. It is ALWAYS food vs. pet bills, pet bills vs. electricity, electricity vs. travel, travel vs. cell phone, cell phone vs. addictions or addictions vs. quality of life. There is NEVER enough money to go around. There is NEVER a time when all of ones needs (according to Maslow) are covered entirely and comfortably.

Hence the fact I’m a photographer without a camera. To survive. To SURVIVE, I’ve had to sell it.

Since I came to Cornwall I’ve lost virtually everything; My physical health has deteriorated, my mental health has deteriorated. My mother has stopped talking to me, she will continue this to her death bed as her own mother did to her, my relationship with my father is strained and all my sundry family with the exception of my daughter and sister refuse to have anything to do with me.

I have lost my girlfriend of six years (along with my laptop and cordless drill) to another man and at least sixty percent of my friends are no longer friends.

To survive Cornwall I have sold: My £600+ ($960) mountain bike, my canoe, my Xbox 360 and games, my DVD collection, excess current generation video games I would like to have kept but no longer played, my entire collection of retro consoles and games dating from the eighties to the current generation (some of which will be forever irreplaceable), the gold chain I got for my twenty-first birthday, my car, a collection of rare Japanese toys and dolls, a hand forged Samurai sword, a Canon GL2 professional video camera, two pairs of Elinchrom Style RX 600 strobes and assorted diffusers, softboxes, umbrellas, dishes and reflectors, radio triggers for the strobes, my Canon 1Ds Mark II, a Canon Speedlite 430EX, a Canon Speedlite 580EX, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens, a Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM lens, a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, a Canon EF 24-70 f2.8L USM lens, a Canon EF 2x II Extender, various professional Hoya filters, all of the studio backdrop equipment, a Manfrotto monopod, a Manfrotto tripod, a Leica D-Lux 4 plus accessories and the Nikon S3100 I replaced the Leica with (although not for monetary gain but because it was utterly rubbish!)

I’m sure there’s more but you get the idea?

I have considered suicide but I have a responsibility to those few that still love me and my dog. I have considered suicide but I think I’m such a fuck-up that I’d mess it up and end up as a cabbage in a hospital bed. I have considered suicide but tomorrow might be a better day.

I live in hope that tomorrow is a better day! But tomorrow never comes as we all know. There is only today. There is only today and only I have the ability to make today better.

But most days I can’t, most days I’m not strong enough.

That’s not to say I won’t, I want to, but I lack the means to make today better at the moment. A good day today means I got up, I shaved and showered, I brushed my teeth and I got dressed. That’s on a good day. A very good day meant I probably fed myself and washed up, maybe did a little cleaning, maybe took the dog for a walk. An extremely good day maybe saw me thinking about the future a little, maybe I got out to town where the people are and maybe I called up a friend for a chat.

Past that, I struggle.

That’s not to say there isn’t a plan. I’m not totally done in, just done in enough to not be able to pick myself up and dust myself down alone.

I can’t help but think about the past and the future; this just weighs me down and makes the present crap. There is so much baggage in my past and try as I might I just can’t let it go. A lot of the past put me exactly where I am now. I analyse and over-analyse. I know I can’t change it but I can’t seem to forget it either. It’s a painful circle.

The future also seems more important than the present and perhaps I’m making a mistake there too; Without some kind of success in life  I won’t be covered for retirement, I’ll never amass a decent state pension at this late stage and I’m not getting younger day-by-day. Each year I seem to feel my age more acutely than the last.

I’ll never realise my dreams through regular employment; they’re modest dreams by anyone’s standard but probably beyond the means of say, a civil servant in this financial climate. Especially a civil servant that’s never left a regularly paid job by his own volition; I realised the other day that I’ve either been sacked or been asked to resign from every job I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot!

I realise also that I lack having someone to love. As crass as it might seem, success means you get the pick of better women. Financial stability is probably the modern version of having the biggest club and the best furs from back in the caveman days. Very few women love a failure! The cavemen failures were the ones the mammoths trampled and the sabre-toothed tigers ate. Today’s failures are the financially and emotionally challenged.

This year has been terrible! I’m not going to live another year like this! I’m not! Either I make it next year or it’s that trip to Thailand I always spoke of… I can’t do this any more. I just can’t.

This year was worse than last which was worse than the one before that which was looking to be a pretty good year until the October.

2008 was the year it started to come together and also the year when it started to fall apart and it hasn’t got better. Two thousand and fucking eight! Just when all the hard work began to pay off the situation changed, I made a knee-jerk reaction and it was downhill all the way from there. Here and there I managed to grab a rocky outcrop or a tired old shrub on my descent but the rocks never held and the shrubs uprooted. In mountaineering parlance I need to find an old piton or cam wedged tight into the slope to belay (I probably shouldn’t mix nautical and mountaineering metaphors but it works…) my fall and give me half a chance to climb back up again.

Somehow, between now and March 2012 I need to find a minimum of £8000 ($12500). Yes, eight thousand pound to get myself back on track. I have no idea how! That’s just for the camera, a lens and a flash. I’d actually like £14400 for equipment and another £3000 to buy me some time in London but £8000 would be a start! With £8K I can start to take photos again and stop being whatever a photographer without a camera is called.

Donations gratefully accepted… Email me for my PayPal account details and you’ll have my eternal gratitude and a mention in my first biography. If it’s a good enough idea for Katie Price it’s good enough for me!

Dec 062011
 

Give me a great lighting assistant, an awesome make-up artist, a stylist that knows how to blag great costumes and style stylishly, a post production wizard that listens and I’ll be as good as any other photographer working commercially today. But; add to that a good PR company and a brilliant celebrity management team and I’ll be the Robbie Williams of the art world! I’ll be a fucking star!

Mar 312011
 

If my life were a Role Playing Game, right now I’d be levelling up in photography and my relationship status would be set back to zero: +4 commitment to life, -2 happiness, +8 peace of mind and +/-9 positivity.

Finally, along with causing abject depression, my commitment to photography and a photographic career has cost me my six year relationship. My partner decided enough was enough and were I to continue along the path I have been walking she’d walk herself; Thus, she’s left me for someone else more stable. Leaving me with a rented property I can ill afford and our dog.

I got the dog! You have no idea how happy that makes me. Sid (my orange coloured Cocker Spaniel) is my rock! We shared pancakes today, sat on the sofa, scratching our fleas, catching up on the past few episodes of The Event.

I read an article the other day on the theory that time seems to speed up the older one gets.

We’ve all heard that, right? Okay, according to a study done by the University of Cincinnati some time in the seventies this effect is so pronounced that if you’re twenty today, in terms of your subjective experience, you’re already half way through your life even if you live to be eighty. If you’re in your forties, (again assuming you’ll live to the ripe old age of eighty) your life is seventy-one percent done.

So my life is (subjectively) over seventy-one percent finished, my career hasn’t started yet, I’m broke, I live in rented accommodation in purgatory Cornwall, my family have all but disowned me, my daughter lives back in London, I’m in ill health and my partner has now left me. But, I do have my dog.

I have my dog, a portfolio of work I’m quietly pleased with, a nomination for a photographic award I’m not allowed to talk about as I’m far from a finalist yet, an article published in a professional photographic magazine this month and a plan.

+9 positivity indeed! Life could well be worse… (that wasn’t an invitation).

Actually, for the first time in my life I have three plans. I have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C. Plan A is my master plan. The one I’m not discussing yet apart from to very close friends and the one member of my family still talking to me.

Plan A is my career saving plan. However, if I fail to define myself as a photographer is my life really over? According to studies by the University of Cincinnati blah blah blah it already is so why worry?

I’ve still got roughly twenty-nine percent of my life left so I might as well make the most of what little time I have left, possibly, (probably), I should stop being a depressive drama queen and start making the most of what I do have. Hence; plan B and plan C.

Reading this back to myself to spell check and proof, perhaps I’m actually an undiagnosed manic depressive and this is one of those bouts of unbridled mania that comes before another big low. It certainly sounds like it might be. Next time you’ll be reading my obituary!

If plan A fails I could? forget being a photographer and accept that my lot in life is that of an ex-pat living in Cornwall. I could get a minimum wage job flipping burgers for one of the chains or get a job in some extreme sports or surf shop and in my spare time make the most of what this (don’t believe the ‘sunny’ hype) rainy county has to offer.

I could finally learn to surf. I could visit (with my dog) the three hundred or so beaches I have yet to see including that blasted Kynance Cove I’ve failed to get to for two and a half years now.

I could visit some of the beauty spots I have still failed to visit and I could walk the moors (again with the dog and wearing those very expensive walking boots I bought pre-Cornwall convinced I’d need them and that I’d be walking the moors all the time although as yet I’ve failed to do anything but drive through them very fast in an attempt to get somewhere else).

I could fly my kites, I could take up bird watching, I could regain my fitness and by working that minimum wage job perhaps enjoy being self-sufficient again albeit on a reduced budget.

If I were sensible this life might even offer a way to come off of my blood pressure, my cholesterol and some of my diabetic meds. I’m sure it’d be on the right track to coming off my depression meds and might even be an incentive to give up smoking if fitness were a way forward to happiness. Who’d have thought it? If not gushing I do sound vaguely positive.

But wait, there’s more! I did say there was a plan C no?

If, upon reflection, plan B seemed too mundane were plan A to fail plan C would be to sell everything I own barring the dog and take to travelling.

I’d be like those intrepid photographers of old… Just me, the dog and a trusty Leica. Travelling the world (rabies shots permitting (me not the dog)) and documenting the sights. Sure, pretty much all the sights have been documented, but not by me. Have you ever seen a Pygmy wearing a gas mask or a Inuit gimp? Neither have I!

I have friends across America, I could start there by bumming some accommodation; New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and San Francisco. That’s a start no? Is the French Quarter of New Orleans still standing?

From the US I’d like to see some of the Caribbean, I’d like to travel to North and South Vietnam and I’d like to see the Killing Fields of Cambodia. I guess I’ve seen too many war films. I’d like to go to Thailand and Japan. I’d like to visit Prague and  St Petersburg and (vaccinations permitting again) maybe hook up with some of those beautiful East European prostitutes one reads about.

If I get bored or too despondent I’ll buy myself a drug overdose in Phuket, wander off into the jungle and never be heard from again. Leave ‘em wondering. It’s a good job that my model release forms state that my beneficiaries can gain monetarily from the sale of my pictures. A dead artist is often seen more favourably than a live one.

It all sounds good on paper. However. There is still the not-so-small matter of my crippling procrastination to deal with.

As a brief aside; I do this a lot don’t I? I recently came across a theory that if you have to make a choice, flipping a coin is a good way to make it. Not as random as it may seem, the theory goes that once you’ve attributed your choices to either heads or tails and while the coin is in the air you instinctively know which way up you want the coin to land. THAT is the option to pick. Forget chance. You just go with that gut feeling.

Hmmm, if only I could find a three sided coin… In the meantime I think I’ll just sit here and procrastinate writing about how good life could be if only.