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JOURNAL
January - 2018
Extracts from, It Fell From an Unknown Height


Well, here it is. Two-thousand and eighteen. Apparently '17 was really shit. I wouldn't know anything about that, apart from any shit that was self created, of course. But of all the troubles and politics and gossips and whatnot? I turned my back on it all. I don't watch tv and I made habit to open twenty browser tabs per day on the subject of botany so that when I did ever decide to open Facebook, I was given things on the side about flowers and shit and if I'd be interested in buying some dudes weedkiller.

The room is small. Comfortable. It's trying to be more than it is and it's almost there. It wants to be posh, but it's not. It's fake-posh. It's a shit room that's had okay surgery. There's a kettle. There are cups. There are sachets of the usual - English Breakfast Tea and Nescafe coffee. Never enough, of course. Sachet of sugar; little miniature milk. An iron, a shower, a television. I have worked in hotels all my life. At some point hotels began removing the option to watch porn. I settle on Film4.

Christmas. We are here on Christmas Day. The girlfriend on a double shift. We save on taxi's and land here, in this hotel in the city. I use the opportunity to photograph the swimmers that take to The Serpentine Lake over Hyde Park. People swimming in icy cold water in nothing but what is akin to underwear. Christmas Eve itself I decide to take a walk around the local area. It's not an area that I have visited before, not one that I've explored. I quite like the architecture of London. In places I'm reminded of old Jane Austen movies with the little squares and their gardens.
And then down particular alleyways I'm reminded of Sherlock Holmes, the narrowness, the dirt, the squalor and the colour, all witness to centuries and the passage of time, of all the changes that have gone by to the people and the city, just a metre away beyond its step.  What were once grand homes of the wealthy and affluent, now sit hotels of various star and class. I walk slowly as I pass the reception windows, the lobbies where people sit, but on this day of Christmas Eve such lobbies are empty, save for the receptionist, the night worker, the night-man. Having worked in such places, I know this man; the man who sits alone at a desk reading a book, a paper, watching a TV, looking out the window or just scanning the world whilst minds are taken to other parts or moments or people in their lives. I know this man. I've been this man. In the 20-odd years that I've worked in hotels, I've sat where he's sat. I've read the books and the newspapers and watched the TV and known every detail of my surroundings; the sunken and dreamlike stare.

I wonder how many of the hotels along this particular square charge by the hour; the kind of hotels that I would question the hygiene and cleanliness of it sheets. I am drawn to the tackiness and period of various reception's decor. Wooden panels lining the walls of the fronts of reception desks not changed since the 60s and 70s. Partitions and their weird sheets of misty glass. I almost will myself into going into each and every one of them to photograph it all. But I don't. I find a fish and chip shop. I am overcharged from the price stated on the window. Not only that, but they forgot to put the can of Pepsi in the bag too. On any other day I probably would have turned back and complained, but today I simply cannot be bothered nor do I want the hastle. The hotel I'm staying in is giving me enough of that already.


Christmas Day


The park itself is lovely and I make a mental note to visit it again come summer. This is the first time that I've photographed something for 4 months. It wasn't something that I had planned or had down to shoot on the calendar, I just simply wanted to get out again, feel the camera in my hand, see the world through the viewfinder, compose the world through it, capture it before it's gone. Well I say that, but it'll all repeat again next Christmas. It's cold. It's early. It's dark'ish. There's a mix of The Queen's Guards and regular swimmers in attendance; their families and the public and the press. I head to the end point where the swimmers will get out of the water. No-one is here. It's just me and some guy with a little table and lots of plastic cups filled with mulled wine. 
I care little to take photographs of people diving in to the water. I just want to photograph them getting out, when they're showing expressions if being cold, of joy and exhilaration, and I want to see them get their wine. At some point in the race, everyone and their mother is making a beeline for where I am stood; the press, those pesky vultures and their elbows and rudeness in not caring about getting in your way, surround me, push me, barge me out of the way. I make my grievance known in a short snap of frustration at which point, they all duck in front of me and I take some quick shots. Bastards. First time shooting in four months and I'm already pissed-the-fuck-off.



2018

London’s New Year’s Day Parade
I've known of this parade for years and although I've been slightly intrigued by it all, I've never actually gone ahead and got out to photograph it, but this year I decided that I would. You see, when I think of festivals and carnivals and parades, I think of Mexico and New York and their displays of dazzle and colour. Here in London, it's always wet and cold and damp and grey. Such things need the sun. Such things need summer, at a minimum. As always when it comes to such things, I like to get there early in order to find the places where people set up and prepare. This affords me some time to get myself ready too; to take note of the environment and where I should be. The parade itself is predominantly made up of American highschool marching bands and cheerleaders. I'm not sure what the association is with London and these highschool students is, but I want to see it regardless. The anxiety creeps ever slowly in as I find where they are setting up and getting ready - anxiety setting in due to the noise and the mass of thousands of kids doing their thing.
I hate noise. My entire body cannot stand it. I cannot be in places where there are sudden noises and where there are a lot of people, so in this particular instance, I'm quietly freaking out inside; walking fast, music on full volume, looking for colour, taking quick shots, walking on, looking for an exit. I focus on them for about ten minutes, find the nearest underground station and head home. It's simply too much for me. I hate that I have this 'condition'. There isn't that much else that's logged into the calendar for January, so I'll use the blank availability to simply head out and wander the streets and see what I come across. It's something I rarely do, but something I know I should do more of, not because it's expected or that my portfolio is lacking in that area, but simply because that's where all the good stuff happens if you pay attention to it for long enough, and then sometimes it is simply something that happens directly in front of you, and that's the treat.




25th - Backstage for project.

The problem I find, when I get home and reflect on being in such places, is that I never stay for more than thirty-minutes. I always think that I have everything I need and leave. I sometimes think I'm simply in people's way, and leave. But it's never the case. Some Chinese theatre company was on tour and performing at The Hackney Empire. It was a last minute decision I made to see if I could go and photograph them. I emailed their PR company for a couple of days before they said yes to my request. 
However, after only getting through 1 1/2 rolls of film, I left. I recall later that there were other corridors and levels in the theatre that I had permission to explore and I simply didn't. I'm kicking myself about it now though. I interacted and talked and they were fascinated with my film camera, but I did little-to-no exploring and I know that the sign leading up the stairs led to more dressing rooms, and I have none of the dressing rooms. I must stay longer - in all and every situation. I simply must.