Thursday, 29 October 2009

A little piece of history

I belong to a local photography club. A local photography club which has existed for 75 years.
We meet in a local hall every Monday evening. Sometimes we compete in competitions with each other, sometimes we compete with other photography clubs, and sometimes a visitor will join us to inspire and entertain.
Last Monday I was definitely inspired and entertained by our visitor. Last Monday's visitor was the widow of the club chairman, who sadly passed away earlier this year. She also brought along her grandson, and photographs and slides from the chairman's vast collection.
I did not have the pleasure of meeting the chairman as he was ill for a long time and unable to join the club meetings. But I have now had the pleasure of viewing some of his outstanding and historical photography.
Apparently the couple met at the photography club, many years ago. Their first date was an outing to Southend-On-Sea, where it rained and they took photographs of reflections in puddles. The couple later married, had two children, who later had children of their own. Their story is quite a love story, and I couldn’t help feeling sentimental when I heard the pride in his widows voice whilst she displayed her late husband's work.
It was fascinating pouring over pictures taken of local churches, buildings and streets, some which have changed immensely and some which have not changed at all. There were shots of a building which was then a cinema, and is now a bingo hall. There were shots of a church, before it was vandalised, and shots of old fashioned streets with only a couple of old fashioned cars on the road and pedestrians wearing very dated clothing.
There were also pictures of other club members, dating back to the 1950’s. How smartly dressed they were. The men wore three piece suits and the women wore hats and fur coats. We were also told most of the members smoked back then, and there would be evenings where the photographs would be difficult to see through the haze of cigarette smoke.
How different things are now. I looked around the club at the members jeans and trainers, in a smoke free environment, where most of the members have digital cameras and are experts in digitally enhancing their work. Back in those days, as we were reminded on numerous occasions, everyone used a camera with film and spent hours in a dark room processing their master pieces.
But the one thing which hasn’t changed is the love of photography which the room still holds. I for one went home, buzzing with enthusiasm, and discussing my night, the history and the pictures, with my friend/new flat mate.
“Tomorrow I am going to start taking lots of pictures again,” said I, as I made my way to bed, head swimming with ideas and excitement.
I’m going to create a photography heaven in blog land.
I’m going to be observing, focusing and capturing.
And I thought it was only fair to warn you.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Behind the scenes at the museum

Imagine a world without books.
No paper backs.
No hard backs.
No authors.
No editors.
No publishing houses.
No printers.
(We’ll pretend at this point that magazines and newspapers haven’t been invented either.)
There would be no Borders book shops, isles packed with the top ten best selling fiction, autobiographies of celebrities with too much to say about themselves, and colourful cook books illustrating one hundred things to do with pasta.
There would be no second hand books shops to browse in, hickeldy pickeldy rows of dusty books for antique collectors, Agatha Christie mysteries and Jane Austen novels.
There would be no school libraries and no public libraries. No librarians seated behind stacks of new and old books and no children renting books for school projects or for their own personal reading pleasure. And no book club meetings for keen readers to discuss and dissect their favourite literature.
There would be no children’s books to buy for birthday presents and Christmas presents. No books for children to learn and recite the alphabet, colours, shapes, and farm yard animals. There would be no Beatrice Potter tales to tell at bedtime, tales of hedgehogs and foxes wearing clothes and leading interesting lives. No Winnie The Pooh adventures and a world where a tiger, a donkey and a piglet are friends.
No Famous Five and The Secret Seven detective stories, where girls and boys drink ginger pop and see the world through inquisitive eyes, and solve murders and uncover hidden treasure.
No teen romances featuring a school called Sweet Valley High and teenagers learning about crushes and heart ache through the experiences and knowledge of the author.
There would be no Stephen King dark and sinister thrillers to loose yourself in during long train journeys and aeroplane flights. Resulting in evil thoughts creeping into your peaceful dreams, turning them into weird and warped nightmares.
And there would be no films to interpret the ideas and scenes from the writers imagination. (Two of my favourite films began their journey as a book, Mary Poppins by P. L. Travellers and The Shining by Stephen King.)
And there would be no theatre plays to act out the words from books.
Are you imagining it?
Can you imagine it?
What a gaping black hole a world without books would leave.
Personally I can’t imagine my life without them. No paper backs and hard backs proudly perched on my book shelves in my loft conversion. No stories to escape in during my two hour commute to work. No excited conversations with my friends regarding a vampire named Edward and a werewolf called Jacob.
I thank the lord for allowing us mortals the intelligence and skills to invent books.
I'm glad there are authors to write books.
I'm glad there are editors to edit books.
I'm glad there are publishing houses to publish books.
I'm glad there are printers to print books.
I am also glad there are film studios and theatre companies to tell the stories of books.
And I'm especially glad my local theatre recently directed and presented a play of a book I read a couple of years ago, Behind the scenes at the museum.
It's the story of a family living above a pet shop. It's about relationships and secrets in a changing world.
And it starred one of my best friends, in a northern accent.
And she was brilliant.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Domesticated bliss

I am swimming in a sea of domesticated bliss.
I am floating in a bubble of washing detergents and fabric softeners.
I am clinging to a cloud of air fresheners and Mr polish.
I am drifting along supermarket aisles, lost in the world of calorie counting and price comparing.
I am chopping, I am stirring, I am engulfed in an aroma of herbs and spices.
I am planning, I am organising, I am entertaining.
I am listening to the merry sound of laugher and huge wine glasses clinking.
I am lighting scented candles and creating atmospheres.
I am gazing lovingly at Argos catalogues and Ikea web pages.
I am dreaming of colour schemes and fantasising with fancy fabrics.
I am submerged in happiness, I am covered in a blanket of contentedness.
I am embracing my independence, my freedom, my new life.
I am back in the house by the pylon, and the house by the pylon has welcomed me back.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Because of the wonderful things he does

If I was to mention the words yellow brick road, and if I was to talk about a lion without any courage, and if I was to discuss lollipop kids, would you understand my point?
I would not be remembering a dream, or flipping random words into the air, I would be referring to one of my favourite films in the whole wide world – The Wizard of Oz.
In my eyes, it’s a classic. Hollywood at it’s best. A technicolour fantasy with a nice little moral - there’s no place like home.
I have watched this film about a million times. I’ve lost track of the amount of Christmas days I have sat in the family lounge, wearing new Christmas slippers, surrounded by new Christmas toys, and found myself mesmerised by a lion, a scarecrow and a tin man.
And to my delight one of my Christmas presents one year was The Wizard of Oz on video. My own copy! My own copy to watch whenever I so desired. And believe me, I did. Sprawled out on the sofa, chomping my way through chocolate bars, or lounging on my bed, desperate to escape the real world and visit familiar characters on a mission to ask a wizard to make their dreams come true.
So it would not surprise you to hear when I was offered the opportunity to view this film again, I jumped at the chance. Although this time it was viewing with a difference. The difference being it was shown at an open air cinema. An open air cinema in London, situated next to the River Thames.
Oh what fun we had! My friend (also my new flat mate) and I. Front row seats, with crisps, dips and white wine, and watching my favourite film in the whole wide world. Again.

The open air cinema was situated past Tower Bridge, along The River Thames.


Rain clouds, please go away!


It's nearly time for the film to begin.


I recognise that lion.


The familiar, well loved, film title.