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Human, mother, wife, home educator, learner, photographer, writer, reader, mind reader, critic, defender, champion.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Love and Hope

Today has been a tough one. I don't believe in gods. It seems almost beyond reason that I should. Why would any god create something so utterly beautiful if he meant to destroy it? No, I don't believe in gods. And so I don't have the comfort of unwavering faith to still me. I have instead an easily broken heart and a lump in my throat. I have tears, some spilled, some frozen, in waiting. I skitter about in the peripheral vision of a friend, helpless and horrified. I have hoped with all my might. I have lingered over photographs and sent my invitation, and if that doesn't do it, nothing will. I have sent thoughts and love into the wild. I have chewed my restless fingers and shaken my head in anger. I've been here before.

Tonight I hope there is a god because I'll spend the night on my fucking knees praying. I will be all heart and silence. Any god who pulls off a miracle tonight, will have my conviction by morning.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Medway City

I tumbled down the stairs, eager to find out what had just thudded onto my doormat. It sounded quite heavy. Surely it must be the weighty brochure I'd been expecting from Medway Council. A brochure which explained the benefits of city status should Medway enter its bid, and win, with a great big questionnaire at the back and lots of blank space for the much-valued residents to give their views. I peeked along the hallway, and there it was, on the doormat, its glossy front page sparkling in the sunlight. I flicked through it. Could I wait until I'd eaten to fill this in? No, I decided. I couldn't. It was just too exciting. I went in search of my favourite pen, a massive grin on my face. Just as I turned to the first page, I woke up.

Hmmmph. So not happy. I'd fallen asleep reading Medway Matters, a shameful Pravda-esque attempt to keep residents informed of the council's work. Somewhere between reading what young people had been told to think and wondering what percentage of Medway's residents were likely to have realised that it was a propaganda rag, my brain had shut down. On the plus side, the editor had said that Medway residents had already been consulted about city status, and that 68% were in favour of Medway's bid, which would've been nice had all Medway's residents had their say. But still, 400 people had a say, so that's not bad is it? So 272 people out of Medway's quarter of a million residents are in favour. And of course, there's Will Young. He backs the bid. So do Status Quo. Damn good of them really. And let's not forget The Saturdays. I mean, when 2012 comes around, and say Medway does get its city status, will anyone remember who the fuck The Saturdays are? I don't even know who they are, but they back the bid for my town to be turned into one fifth of a city, so I should be thankful, right? Well I'm not. Because I wasn't asked. I don't know a single person who was.

So, how would Medway Council prove that its bid is well supported if it doesn't consult its residents? Well, in the aforementioned propaganda rag, there is a bunting flag, which we are allowed to cut out and colour in, before sending it off to Gun Wharf. Isn't that nice?

There was me thinking the council was ignoring us all, but I was mistaken. The council is treating us like idiots.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Happy Father's Day

My Dad threw John McCririck out of his shop for taking bets in the corner.

My Dad threatened to set fire to a man in a wheelchair for being rude to a checkout girl.

My Dad told an extremist minister to fuck off for preaching racial hatred on his doorstep.

My Dad was better than Gene Hunt. Yeah, you heard me.

Miss you always, Dad xo

Thursday, 13 May 2010

A Promise to a Friend

I am a shameful lamb, letting out an indulgent noisy bleat before condemning myself to cry silently in the dark, with all the crushed hearts and battered souls. For this hole is not mine to fall into, this sickening grief not mine to claim, and if I could take away an ounce of pain and inflict it a thousand-fold upon myself, I would. And not complain. I'd smash it and beat it and melt it down, dilute it with tears and make it wish it had never been born.

Every year on your birthday, I won't light a candle for you, or bake you a cake. I'll make myself a findus crispy pancake sandwich and eat it in the dark, with ketchup, and a headlamp on so I can see my Hanjie puzzle. I'll bob about like an angler fish and I'll try to laugh. I really will, but I'll be missing you. My love goes with you always. Bleat over, and out.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Goodbye 2000s #3

Roughly one and a half per cent of all the photos I've ever published are of reflections. So, as I'm reflecting on the last decade, here are four of them.

Rainy Reflections Taken in June 2007, this is one of my most popular photos, having been viewed over 500 times. It's attracted 51 comments and 37 faves.  The following comment is taken from my old blog.

The day I took it was the day that I really got hooked on photography again. I was trying to explain to a friend how I felt when I took this photo. For some reason (perhaps it was the cider) I was unable to put this into words. But essentially, it is this; it was knowing that I alone had spotted these reflections in the pavement - amid the rushing crowd, I alone had stopped to stare in wonderment. It made me feel special - like I understood the world. It was showing us all something beautiful, but nobody had noticed. Just me. I couldn't find those words at the time, so I told my friend it was like catching a fairy.

Winter Walk Taken in January 2008 on the lovely little Kodak that my son now uses, this one has only been viewed 74 times, but it's been faved 7 times, not a bad hit rate. And it did manage a respectable 9 comments. It was a particularly grey day. Most of the photos I took this day were immediately converted to black and white because that's how I saw them when I took them. I was seeing in black and white all that day, so much so that when confronted with all this glorious purple, my poor eyes popped out having almost forgotten what colour was. This is the shot that prompted the comment that I always make Chatham seem so interesting, and so it is, if you squint.

Self Portrait with Stripy Legs This one has only been viewed a pathetic 35 times. I can't even really explain why I like it so much. I wanted the reflected man to be in the middle of the left hand door panel, so I waited for him. Then the bugger started to run and I almost didn't catch him at all. Now I'm not saying he should have let the car hit him, but without the reflected running man this is just a daft self portrait with banana-striped legs. Still, I guess that would've been enough to keep me amused.

Shop Girl (Retail. Detail) This is another one taken in June 2007. It was originally posted in colour and attracted 70 views and just one comment. I decided to post it in ever so slightly cross processed black and white a year and a half later to see what response it would get. I figured that since there was so much going on, so much to look at, a black and white conversion would allow the eye to concentrate on form and contrast. The newer version has been viewed just one more time than the colour version, although it's had half as much time to gather views. It has ten comments and five faves. Does this prove anything? Do people prefer black and white imagery? Do photographers prefer black and white imagery? Or is it just the photographers I know that prefer black and white imagery? It puts me in mind of that observation that nothing can be proven, something about one half of one sheep in Scotland being black, a philosophy joke. So what do we see? Modern life, mobiles phones, the boredom of retail, the stride of the woman on the left which implies she is wearing the bag in the shop window, consumerism, sale, sale, sale.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The cost of destroying heritage.

At a meeting of Medway Council last year, Councillor Hubbard asked the Leader, Councillor Rodney Chambers, the following question:
"In the Assistant Director's (Housing and Corporate Services) letter of 5 May, she details the financial reasoning why the Council is committed to demolishing the Aveling and Porter building on the former Civic Centre site. There is little information given for the reasoning behind the figures: for example, ' to spend £70,000 to secure and underpin the old building and £65,000 to replace service supplies'. For the public record can the Leader set out in detail the reasons behind costings, and how they were formulated, which have been used to justify his Cabinet's decision to demolish the said building?"

The Leader, Councillor Rodney Chambers explained that in the Assistant Director’s letter she outlined what the expected costs to the Council would be if the Aveling and Porter office building were retained. This included £70,000 to secure and underpin the building, £65,000 to replace service supplies and ongoing annual costs of up to £139,000.
The £70,000 was to underpin the building at the point where it would be severed from the remainder of the Civic Centre building and would stabilise and waterproof the building.
Services to the Aveling and Porter office building, such as electricity and water, were supplied through the Civic Centre building and would be severed if the building were demolished. Utility providers had estimated the costs of replacing these services to be approximately £65,000.
On top of these one off costs would be up to £139,000 of annual costs which include £20,511 for rates, £10,800 for insurance, £5,000 for utilities, £7,000 for essential maintenance and up to £96,000 for security.
These figures do not include the backlog of repairs estimated to be £624,000 and other underpinning work which may have to be undertaken at a cost of £80,000. There would also be an additional cost if the building were later demolished of £200,000.
The Leader stated that it is far from clear that the Council could get a return on this investment once the site is made ready for re-development. The value of the site had been considered and it was believed that, if the building were retained, the reduction in the value of the site would be approximately £850,000.
He added that it was on the basis of these financial and safety implications and the view of English Heritage about the historic interest of the site, that the Council had decided it did not have the resources available to retain the building.

Well, that's all very nice, but what are we to make of the backlog of repairs? Does Medway Council routinely neglect the buildings it occupies? Can we expect the council to bulldoze Gun Wharf for a bit of prime riverside redevelopment money when that backlog of repair costs start building up again? Just something to think about.

Triptych of Destruction: Aveling & Porter Building

Medway painter Peter Reeds goes to the site of the Aveling & Porter building in Strood for a third time to record the unnecessary demolition of the building and bring something new and colourful to the situation. The time-lapse video can be viewed here.

Medway Council and Medway Renaissance Bombers have chosen to demolish this beautiful building to create a car park. This has cost the tax payer £800,000. The building could have been saved for the same amount.

Medway Renaissance Bombers' Robin Cooper is on record as saying that the building had "no purpose".

One Medway photographer is on record as saying that Mr Cooper has "no imagination".

If we tolerate this, then Sun Pier will be next.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

A Story In Pictures

This is my town. Built of bricks and chewing gum stars.
The men without souls want to tear it down.

We couldn't save the flyover, it cut the town in half apparently...

I wonder where the council put all the junk it was storing underneath it.

We couldn't save the theatre, too damp, too dangerous...

We couldn't save the Aveling & Porter building. What this town 
needs is another car park, pay and display and pay and pay.

And we couldn't save the trees. Park your buses here please.

This has gone. We can't have boats landing, not boats on a river, no,no, 
it'll have to go...
And this will follow, declared a danger to the swans...

Piled high then bulldozed low to make way for 40% affordable...

and 60% unaffordable housing.

Views obscured forever by the tall, the bad and the ugly...

Money to burn, our money to burn, burn the character of these towns,
until all this...

has gone...

and nothing can survive here...
until infinity?
Except for this...

Hollow burgers for a ghost town. Would you like fries with that?

And if all the world's a stage...

Then the most beautiful prop must hold her place...
Not be brought crashing to her knees.
And the players will pay for swapping their souls for bulging pockets.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Goodbye 2000s #2

More photos from the archives...

Slap Alice came along to the Aveling & Porter building for the demo yesterday. Afterwards, we went along to the Nag's Head where the ME1 album was playing. She slipped away before her song came on, but I stayed behind alone to listen. If you haven't downloaded the ME1 album yet, do it now. The 21 track album is FREE, but there is a button so you can donate to Oxjam and Amnesty International if you like. Slap Alice is playing at Poco Loco on 30th January.

At Medway Eyes presents... Sounds of '67 - January 2009

At Medway Happenings - August 2008

Legitimised Vandalism

Another George Bond building is being bulldozed, to make way for a car park - a charming view for visitors to Rochester Castle. At the Aveling & Porter demolition protest on Thursday, it was rightfully pointed out that if the average citizen did what the council are doing, they would be arrested. Medway Council seems to think it has the right to strip our towns of their heritage, to ignore our voices and violate its own code of conduct. The council seems to have forgotten that it does not own these towns, it is just a caretaker, yet is not taking any care at all. What will this mindless minder be passing on to the next generation? All that will be left is a clinically beautiful historic Rochester surrounded by rubble; the remnants of the council's destruction.

Criminals. Vandals. Liars. Thieves. Oh, and kerb crawlers. Medway Council. Serving You.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Memories #1

I've been scanning lots of old photographs recently. My nan is something of a hoarder, which has brought both delight and misery.

I found this letter with a postmark of 1957 when my dad was seven years old. I've left the spelling mistakes in because it's sweeter that way. I know that my dad broke his arm at around this age so I imagine he may have had to stay in hospital. Unfortunately, there's nobody left to ask. Dad is dead. Grandad is dead. Nan has dementia. It's hard to imagine that my dad was ever so vulnerable, that he was once the age of my own young son....

Dear mother and father
Please buy me a model Air-craft or nelsen ship. I'm getting on all right. It is nise here but I'm still afraid. I wish I coude go home but I can't. hope you are well.
Love from Sammy. 

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Talking About Regeneration

The demolition of the Aveling & Porter building began today.

Please read the Medway Eyes blog
and get angry enough to do something.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Goodbye 2000s #1

All that faff over the new millenium and here we are, ten years later, saying goodbye to another decade. With a desire to put the last few years behind me and embrace whatever happens next, I've decided to share some of my favourite photos here. Some will make the cut because they are aesthetically pleasing, interestingly composed or beautifully executed (for me at least) and some will make the cut because my favourite people are in them.

This lot are all strangers, but still they are my favourites.

Taken at Riverside Live '08. I was intrigued by her expression and body language. I have no idea who or what she was looking for and I still spend way too much time wondering about that. I wish that I'd asked her. She could have been waiting for a pizza or a lover, watching the skateboarders or the distant clouds, or simply trying to decide if she should have another drink. I'll never know, and she's probably forgotten. It'll be one of those tiny forgettable moments in her life, but will have me wondering for the rest of mine.

Taken back in July 2007. The guy on the left insisted I take his photo as soon as he saw my camera. His friends kept walking, somewhat embarrassed by his flamboyant posing. I get a lot of people asking me to take their photos, especially when I'm out at gigs, and they always ask for a card or what website they'll be appearing on. There is an assumption that photos will be made available online, especially when people are captured out clubbing. It's a fairly new sort of an assumption, strange, interesting and slightly alarming. I found it refreshing and fascinating that this guy insisted on having his photo taken but showed absolutely no interest in seeing it. As he walked away, he said "Does my bum look big in this?" I made the mistake of looking. He laughed.

Taken at Sweeps Festival, Rochester, 2008. If this geezer was in a Guy Ritchie film, I'm sure we'd all be scared shitless, but he looks so at home in his pink glittery hat, with his lovely black handbag, giant teddy and dolphin balloon. This shot typifies that family man/gangster character which is so prevalent in those 'ard man films, not that I'm making any assumptions about this actual man - I'm sure he's very lovely, and he does look gorgeous in pink. I'd like to thank his family for abandoning him with all the fairground paraphernalia, an act which led to one of my favourite candid shots of 2008.

More coming soon...