Archive for September, 2004

Bloggin’ from the Sofa

Today see me laid up at home with a sore throat… [shocking pic of my massive tonsils here]. I Googled tonsils, and reckon I’ve got the biggest. You can set your watch by the back of my mouth. First sign of Autumn, bang go the tonsils. Anyway, I’ve ‘seen’ the and it’s paracetamol, rest and plenty of fluids. And as one of the most developed places in the world, us Northern Europeans are the most sick. Mind you, Edward de Bono says here that creative people need to relax….

All this got me thinking though, how to spend the perfect ‘day off’. I reckon: get up, pad round the house in trackies n slippers, quick peek at the web, hmmm, rain outside, Ealing comedy on BBC2, duvet, sofa, cheese on toast, herbal tea… anyone top that?

It’s not what you shoot, it’s what you know.

Really nice piece by Ian Walker in this quarter’s Source magazine focusing on just one of Tony Ray-Jones’ photographs. Who, as if by magic, has a retrospective coming up at the National Museum of Film, TV & Photography.

Walker focuses on one single photo of holiday makers on the deck of a pleasure cruiser, he then explores the original incorrect captioning, the actual location of the shot and how that might account for the make up of subjects, and second guesses Ray-Jones’ movements by extensively studying his contact sheets. Ahh contact sheets. I’ve banged on about this before, about what we’re leaving with digitally to future archivist, and I’m a digital fan!

Walker goes on to say: If it had been made now, I might have worried about it being staged. But as Joe Rosenthal said about his famous Iwo Jima photo, if it had been set up, it couldn’t have been so good. For the ‘perfection of such a caught movement also involves the presence of all the peripheral, inconsequential elements as well.

Ray-Jones was shooting ‘The English’ long before Martin Parr, and it the idea of shooting what you ‘know’ that I was explaining to someone at the weekend. I’ve been touting my shots of a London Food shops around recently and talking about my work to magazines. In talking about my work I’m always reminded of at time in Mauritius. I was in the Market with a girl I met on the plane who just happened to a: be Mauritian and b: Work for the BBC… What are the chances! Anyway, we went to the market, the sort of place where tourist don’t really go, but locals do. There I was thinking I’ll get some great shots; piles of veg, rough hands and faces, saffron robes and spices… I get into the market and suddenly become the centre of attention, plus people are saying. ‘No photo’ to me as I discreetly move the camera off my new found friend and on to them. A friend was recently in Greece, and stopped by the side of the road to see a leather faced Greek Orthodox old lady sitting by the side of the road, the sun was setting, it looked a picture. The only words of English she knew were “my photo, three Euro’. What’s the point? Photograph what you know I reckon, and in his prime, Ray-Jones certainly did that.

Sport Relief ‘thanks’ party

Sport Relief ‘thanks’ party – a photoset on Flickr
ok, so Monday I get an email from the Comic Relief web team, saying, ‘hope you got your invite to out sport relief thank you party tomorrow night, see you there’…. eh, what invite… A party, without moi? I mailed back and made arrangements.

See a while back myself and Mr Useability himself Gee-Kay Wong paid them a visit to talk about design, promotion on and general useability guidelines…

So Tuesday night comes around off I trot. It’s in a quick drink at the bar before Kevin Cahill takes the stage and talks about all the good work that’s been done and the successes of sports relief.

Emma Freud, a trustee of Comic Relief then takes the stage and talks about the upcoming plans for 2005. The plan is this… Make poverty history. It’s a really unique opportunity that the UK has to end some of the major causes of world poverty. It’s 20 years after Live Aid, when we were first made aware of the full horrors of famine and poverty. It’s also the UK’s turn to host the G8 summit, where eight men will go to the Gleneagles hotel in Scotland and decide world economic policy for the next few years. The UK will also hodl the EU presidency. MPH is campaigning for three things: Fair and even trade laws, dropping 3rd world debt and increasing each country’s aid budget to a ‘whopping’ 0.7% of GDP.

Emma then showed a video, and you can watch it here, infact I insist that you do. It’s one of the most heart breaking things I’ve ever seen.

World poverty won’t go away over night, but at least some of the root causes will have been addressed by these aims. It’s a real chance to do something powerful and far reaching so get involved.

Everyone was kind of numb after that video…. but Kevin made an exceptional closing statement and raised the mood once more.

Then it was time to get some more drinks in, Bjorn Again got on stage, then the lovely Edith Bowman did a set, Ainsley Harriott was there along with a load of other c’lebs, and I got a bit smashed. I then saw a man passed out at Embankment station, and met a couple with ‘tazer quest’ guns on the train… [photos of the night here]


This weekend was London Open House, where some of London’s greatest buildings open their doors too… the queuing public. First off we went to the Midland Hotel, but the guy said there was a two hour wait. It’s also open every weekend from now till Xmas so figuring we’d come back we decided to give it a miss. We then went across to the Bank of England, to find people queue past the sign that said ‘four hour wait – you won’t get in past this point’. It was a similar story at the Lloyds building. By this time we were beginning to loose heart, and it had started to rain. We caught a bus to High Holborn and walked to Dr Johnson’s house, which, yes, had a huge queue outside it. Bugger.

One thing I really wanted to see was the old Daily Express building at 120 Fleet Street. Built by Owen Williams for Lord Beaverbrook newspaper. The foyer is the best example of Art Deco in the country. It’s now been restored (£5m) to former glory, and is truly and incredible space. Standing in it rather reminded me of the lobby of the Empire State Building. It must have been amazing working on Fleet Street in the 50’s and 60’s, when it was the heart of British Journalism, I dimly remember the riots in the 80’s when it all moved out to Wapping and Canary Wharf. The building is now owned by Goldman Sachs, and although the foyer has been restored, there’s nothing of the original building left behind it.

Anyway, it was well worth queuing up for 45mins to go round it. Photo’s now on Flickr, (yes, I’ve decided to use it properly now there’s a decent iPhoto export.) Open House London – 120 Fleet Street Photo’s.

Sunday we went to the observatory at Greenwich, which is free and open all the time. There’s a permanent exhibition about the history of time, and GMT, nice write up here.

The plastacine bomber, the girl and the Current Bun.

Phew. You’ve got to love the way this week’s turned out; everyone’s blood boiling, Nation up in arms, men in tights, violence, blooded heads, unusual weather, animals, attacks on both Royalty and the Govenment. It’s great time for us to be running a series on what it means to be British too. Least it puts paid the idea that the English are stay at home passive ‘shopkeepers’, (actually we have a great history of rioting and protest, from the corn laws to the poll tax).

The Daily Mail won stupid headlines of the week for me though. ‘Marquis and Rat-Catcher side by side’, emphasized a view of class employment not seen since medieval times, Rat-catcher, surely rats are mainly urban dwellers? There other one was ‘Five who rocked the cradle of Democracy’, Last I looked that was Ancient Greece?

Then the Sun ups the anti with another man on the inside. Makes you wonder how many of the Sun’s staff are on the payroll of other organizations and companies? Must be a night mare for the Sun’s HR Dept… Still, it also managed to track down Gemma Richards, a.k.a the ‘Hunt Filly’ and give her her own Page 3 here & here, ‘strirrupped’ down to her ‘jodphwoars’. Not to be outdone, fellow red top The Daily Star gave her a front page. And as poor young Gemma’s stablehand job is under threat by the ban, it’s nice to see her ‘re-training’…

Hunt fans and new cameras…

SnappersSo i pick the right time to get a Canon 300D on hire free for a week from London Camera Exchange. In my lunch hour I waddled up to Charing Cross Police Station to see the protests against yesterdays House of Commons intruders. The press were all getting the dog shot, a spaniel sat in-between a woman’s legs, the cute angle once more, then it was off to their powerbooks and Sony Viao’s to upload the images to the AP ftp. Despite the BBC badge and chatting to some fellow beebers, I felt totally amateur with the 300D compared to some of the beasts these fellas had. Still it’s a nice camera, if a little slow to power up from standby. And some of the Toff’s that were there.. I was almost tempted to shout ‘wee-wease wodderwick, and twarkwin, you bwaffoons’ ala Life of Brian and join in….

Hunt pictures from the wires

Things that didn’t make the main stream media due to the shots of bloody heads and angry coppers.

pictures from the demonstrations at Parliament Square.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
September 2004
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