Jan 312018
 

I’ve just watched a Sunday afternoon ‘rom-com’ made in 1989 called You’ve Got Mail. It stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as two people that fall in love having never met but by talking on an internet chat-room. Not even in real time across a ‘messenger’ type programme but by email over dial-up. At one point Ryan says something along the lines of “The odd thing about this form of communication is that you’re more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings”. As I heard that it made me think how much that can still remain true today. As I watched the film it also made me realise ‘again’ that Sunday afternoons and ‘rom-coms’ are meant to be shared.

In the movie, so much is lost through the lack of intonation in the written conversation as it is in a WhatsApp conversation. Does that sound familiar? Also, Ryan starts her second reply of the film with “Dear friend: I like to start my notes to you… …as if we’re already in the middle of a conversation. I pretend that we’re the oldest and dearest friends…”, isn’t that also what we do on WhatsApp and Messenger too?

Now, twenty-nine years later? Technology has almost moved forward with the speed of thought, it sometimes seems that someone thinks a new technology or upgrade and it appears. I would imagine that over half the people reading this will not know what ‘dial-up’ is and fortunately will have never experienced the misery of the slowness of it’s electronically musical transfer of binary code in todays world of fibre optic high speed broadband. Nowadays we’re not even offline when we leave the house, we take ‘online’ and therefore the conversation with us. But. There is still that excitement that Ryan and Hanks experience when the see they have mail, that sense of ‘waiting’, almost painfully with anticipation for the notification that your never met, online date has replied to you.

In some senses online dating has remained the same even though technology has made the speed of interaction as fast as real life conversation or at least as fast as you can type and one doesn’t have to wait until morning or the dial-up to connect (I’m not sure which would be quicker) to receive your reply.

While they’re waiting for their replies they agonise over their internal dialogue and the content of that waited reply. “Shall we meet?” – Hesitancy before hitting send and then an interminable wait for the reply, scolding yourself for being so bold yet knowing there was no other question you could’ve asked at that moment. Doesn’t that remain the same for some of us? Of course, real life has changed too and the millennials, the ones that get the most from the high speed technology we have now have also changed the rules of relationships. Some expect to just ‘hook-up’ therefore the online date could only have to last an hour before meeting in real life; a quick swap of selfies, of tit and dick pics and they meet and jump into bed. Some expect to still be wooed and dated properly online, over time. The gamble of that right-swipe is you never know which you’re going to get. Me? I’d prefer the latter, with time spent learning about each other, slowly.

Unless. As happens rarely, when you meet in real life before you exchange your online details and something just seems to ‘click’ I can understand when Hanks says: “Well, had you and I just, well, met… I would have asked for your number (Me! – or Facebook/Instagram details), and I wouldn’t have been able to wait twenty-four hours before calling you and saying, “Hey, how about… oh, how about some coffee or, you know, drinks or dinner or a movie…?” That’s me! I am impetuous and spontaneous and if I meet someone either online or in real life I either like them straight away or I don’t, sometimes, even if I’m the only one that feels we clicked then I’m totally down with Hank’s ‘can’t wait twenty-four hours…’ It’s then I get the deafening and demoralising silence in reply.

The downside of internet dating and talking is expressed succinctly by Hank’s Grandfather; “Well, as far as I’m concerned, the Internet is just another way of being rejected by women.” It’s true. Like real life, meeting the right woman is a numbers game. Right now, this year I am three fails out of three women. There’s a fourth and I feel I’ve messed that up too.

I’m getting older physically and the age gap between the women I like and myself is getting wider. Hence the fails will come more often. But isn’t it true of all of us that we never feel as old as we physically are? I honestly still feel twenty-four in my head. I certainly don’t feel my actual age: I can be spontaneous, I still adore anime and video games, I want to explore, to travel. When I was younger we didn’t travel, we didn’t have gap years we went straight into work, the world wasn’t as small as it is now. But that dreaded left swipe is always there. Before you can even read about a person’s attributes and plus points you’ve discarded them on looks alone. I’m equally just as guilty of that unfortunately. But I’m also that shallow in real life. If I don’t fancy you, I can only ever like you as a friend. I hate that I’m that shallow but my career has broken me. At least I use that excuse… When you surround yourself with beautiful women all day would it be unfair to expect to hope for anything less as in a future partner?

I guess what I’m trying to say is to stay positive and keep trying. Take risks, talk to as many people as you can either in real life or online and hope somewhere you’ll eventually get that ‘click’ and twenty-four hours will seem to long to wait for both of you. Until then… Remember it’ll eventually happen and you’ll fail more than succeed unless you’re aged around twenty-four and look like Adonis.

I’ll leave you with Birdie, Ryan’s oldest employee and a friend of her deceased mother’s: “I tried to have cybersex once, but I kept getting a busy signal.” I know how she feels…

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.


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, we even discussed marriage! 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… (Names have been changed to protect the guilty).


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!