What Will You Say?

I have been shooting  incorrectly for the majority of the time; it took me just one trip with the well-informed to tell me that.  I should have known, I shouldn’t have shot from the hip, wasting film and time combined.  Honestly, I have learnt my lesson, just hand me that last roll of black and white film and I’ll get your shot, the one that we both dream of on long hazy afternoons – the body laying silently, awaiting a brief exposure with your eyes focused on mine, the twin cradles of hips and shoulders turned towards me and only to me.  As if in a dream the thin rivulets of your flesh cascade gently against the cold leather couch.

On developing I can see the flames licking the border of the shot, the deep blacks and greys helping to create shadow against the brilliant white of immovability.  The mistaken shot turns into something more, an image captured that I had not originally cared to note.

Photograph by the author using a Pentax ME Super and Lomography Lady Grey film. If reproduced elsewhere please credit the author as appropriate.

Farming the Battleground

Please my feathered friends, take a seat and join me at my table.  I have put out extra plates, cutlery and cups so that we may drink to our health and continued friendship.  It is true that I have partaken in eating your brethren, please let us raise our glasses to your forgone cousins, brothers and sisters, but I shall dare say that if you had the chance to peck at my deceased body you would too, would you not?  Ah ha, a shifting of the eyes and a quick nod of the beak!

But we are not here to debate such a delicate ethical matter are we!  No, no, such matters of the higher order can be cast aside for today, for this is instead a more mundane meeting of the species.  An exchange of information no more and no less.  Please, have another glass of wine, let your fingers wrap around the stem and your nose smell the lush fruit of warmer climes.  Isn’t it funny how our senses can move us so quickly, how our imagination can cast aside reality for the landscapes of our dreams?  Ah good, you are all enjoying the wine!

I am ahead of myself, please forgive me, eat some of the home-baked bread, baked by my wife, no less, just yesterday!  Can you see how moist the crumb is and how it crumbles at the slightest provocation?  It is a most delightful treat when jam has been spread across a thick slice, goes down a cinch with a warm cup of coffee you know!

Yes, yes, we shall have coffees after our main course and after a few more bottles of wine or so.  There is no rush to complete today’s meeting and, as you know, I have already talked to the head raven.  He is fine in realizing the deal that we have, that I shall pass on what I can as and when I come across it.  You know, of course, that this may be some time as the wars of men are fought differently to the battles of survival that we ourselves fight.  Ho!  Those beastly metallic traps clunking across the soil, those wooden fire sticks bursting forth nothing but pain and death . . .  What a world we have inherited, make no mistake!

But still, we can farm our own foods from this mess, we can survive and I believe that we can indeed thrive in this matter.  It will take some tricks, yes it will, but we can do it.

Don’t give me that look old coop master!  I have seen that look before and I have vanquished it too, so be aware of old man Kerensky!  Sure I may lecture you from the pulpit, but I have been on my share of the battlegrounds as and I will again serve my feathered friends whilst the great nations who rule over us become mired in their bog of war!  Now, let me get my maps to show you where I think it is best to hunt for our treasure.

There is life in the old dog yet you know . . .

Blue is the Dream

Blue is the colour of my dreams, the inside and the outside worlds tilting but never quite fully falling over.  The flutter of the leaves in the wind and the beauty of the sky’s colours urged me to look up, to embrace the vast emptiness of existence.  No comfort was found, history meaning nothing to the future, but no comfort was needed.  It wasn’t that life is on a constant knife-edge of imbalance, when is it not?, but the fact that I could embrace the now, the cold comfort of the wind and the cawing of the birds as my own.  Distinctly my own, this moment and nothing more.  That nothing, or rather no moment, truly mattered or matters in the great cosmic life course of universal matter.  We were born and we will die, from whence we began we will return.


Photograph by the author using a Pentax Super ME camera and Lomography Lady Grey film, coloured using generic software. Please attribute if used elsewhere.

Through The Window

The final flight to a familiar destination, my body sighs with relief.  You are my final stranger, the person who sits one empty chair away from me of who I do not know one bit.  I see your passport briefly, possibly from the Emirates judging from the silver cross of swords potent on the cover and the colourful shawl draped across your delicate face.

Your body is tiny in comparison to my towering torso and broad hulking shoulders. You curl up in your seat as soon as the plane starts to taxi, covering your head fully and aiming for a fitful fifty minute sleep.  I am envious of this talent, I can only stare straight ahead, dipping into a satirical magazine to ease my boredom.  This is the shortest flight that I have been on for some time now, but even here my eyes cannot rest.  I reacquaint myself with the politics and humour of this land, smiling to myself as the plane carries on heading to the north.

I look across from time to time, partly to see the green grass of home but also to check that you are still resting.  Your left hand is placed across your stomach, holding steady as your wrapped head lolls from time to time.  The silent movements in sleep stand in great contrast to the roar of the engines situated just a few metres from where we are.

We smile at one another as I let you pass me by to get into the aisle, we have arrived at our destination and I am glad.  I am finally home whilst you, I feel, may be very far from it but I hope you find a home here too and a loving family of friends.


Ask yourself but one question: does it matter?

Everyone around me was having this great big conversation with god, or a version of their god, but I was sat there, half reclining, half lying, looking up at the birds, the clouds and beyond those the stars, thinking does it matter?  How many other people are staring at these..
…magnificent cloud formations, the shapes reminiscent of
Norway’s kinking coastal outline.

The gulls were soaring mid-flight, high, coasting on the invisible
waves of the wind. It was magnificent.  They could hear the call of
their feathered friends, could survey their kingdom beneath me.

I didn’t admit it out there by myself but I was trapped, not by faith but by chance, by accepting a job at a place I knew I hated.

So each and every break-time I head outside, go to see the wildlife, the clouds, the sun whose light streaks across the sky and I think, It could be worse.  It could be better.

Dispatches From The Coast: A Cold Morning Kiss

The water lapped over my feet as I sat in the shallow surf, the sand acting as a welcoming cold blanket to hold the heavy weight of my sodden body.  I was focused on watching the summer sun shimmer over the watery horizon, ascending to spend a day in the big blue eternal.

I happened to be only a stone’s throw from the rest of the gang back behind me, who were content rummaging in the post-apocalyptic coliseum-like landscape of an old concrete water tank.  It was half demolished, half drained and half open to the elements but it still contained a small pool of still water, resting peacefully in the centre.  It provided ample dry space to camp in overnight as we burnt wooden flotsam and jetsam to keep warm.  We would watch entranced as the flames licked dry the wood, as they curled high into the air, as pieces of free floating ember drifted out over the water.   Occasionally the concrete couldn’t handle the heat and a bit of rock or ‘crete would crack and shoot off like an errant lost firework.  It was peaceful and it was beautiful.

We were cut off from the rest of the town by a train hill, had to enter this ruined landscape by a long concrete tunnel bored right through.  It was a visual rite of passage as we lugged our crates of beer through it and pocketed the bags of mary for later use, all the while watching out for puddles or malformed bricks to trip us up.

Only by sitting in the shell of the constructed past could we engage with our present, stars twinkling in their heavenly domain above, resplendent in their peaceful beauty.  I am pretty sure that anyone who saw us would not think the same, of our matted hair and corduroy.  Throwbacks to the 90’s.  We completed the scene with empty cans and deep laughs, of guitars and harmonicas played deep into the night.

They say now that the ground is leveled, cleaned and scraped back.  Houses to be built by their dozen, a luxurious bolt hole for the wealthy.  The landscape of a decomposing industrial wasteland has been deconstructed and reconfigured to fit the needs of an expanding people.  Water tanks turned inside out and re-shod with wood and tiles, distorted bricks re-cast for the foundations.  The sofas we used to burn now litter the beach in their full splendor.

But still, when the wind blows right, the scent of mary and the sea can still be smelt, a reminder of a time long past.

The Swimmers Paradise

You may have gathered from a previous post that I love swimming (or even just floating) in bodies of water, in both seas and lakes and man-made pools; that I love the feeling of being immersed so completely that you forget what it is like being tied to the land for life.  I am a lucky person as I live near the sea but, unfortunately, I haven’t swam in it for nearly 8 months now.  I remember the last time as if it were yesterday: the last rays of a summer sun that shimmered on the golden empty sands, of the waves that towered over my friend and me, those same waves that crashed onto our bodies and carried us along on the surf towards the shore, of being able to stare into the empty sky from a free floating position further out at sea, away from the swells and broils of the surf.  It was a fantastic experience and one well worth the arduous mini-trek down to the front.  I cannot wait until I am in the sea again, ensconced in that liquid love of two parts hydrogen covalently bonding with one part oxygen, and I hope against hope that it will be soon.

I see ships coming into the hometown port all the time, the cable layers and dredgers, along with the bigger container ships and oil tankers lining up to enter the bigger port that lies to the south of my town.  Often I spy the dredgers that go between the two, keeping the sea lanes free of silt.  I’d love to hop on an ocean going vessel again, to be taken away to see the world from the vantage point of a porthole.  Although the ships rarely spend long at port these days, the days of having wild nights in port cities long gone having been shunted aside by the necessity of the commercial world of shipping, I’d still get to float on the beautiful body of water that surrounds our ground bound forms.  I dream every night of being a part of a crew that rides the waves of the ocean, drifting between continents and between lives, not walking but gliding gracefully through the water.


A sea shot of a dredging ship, altered with some basic colour mixing via media player. Taken by me with a Pentax S1a on cheap colour film, please use CC if reproduced.

The Window Frame

I dreamt I flew home along the dusty chemical highway as fast I could go, bypassing the car heavy traffic with tremendous speed and agility|  I knew my brother was waiting for me in his room overlooking the driveway|  I packed my bag with the essentials once I was home all the while pondering my freedom and escape, thoughts hanging heavy in my head of the freedom to roam once more\  However he would not come with me, sitting sullen and silent against the window-frame, despite all of the talk of the week before between us of just letting go and escaping this two bit town|  I bordered the night train with my bag full of essentials and my horizons expanding but I was alone and I knew it, my brotherly half left behind|


I don’t remember the exact day, I never will, but I remember the sensation of my legs pounding the tarmac, of my lungs drawing in the air deeply, during the race to the silent wall. The rain fell in a fine mist, coating only the hair and the clothes of my two friends and I.  The journey did not last two minutes, of me and my friends running towards no known goal.  It was beautiful, magical even, a memory that will resonate with me until my dying breath, reminding me of a path not trod for many years.

Between the Line

Somewhere between the innocent bliss of childhood and the undefined feeling of adulthood you start to lose the rosy held view of the world, where the dichotomy between good and bad break cleanly.  No, today the line blurs ever more as you realise the world is more nuanced then you could ever think.  This can be good, and it can be bad, but it rarely leaves a situation clearly defined.  As such it is sometimes hard to know where to turn to, and what to believe.  It is, and always be, a mystery for the ages where only the individual can decide.

A photograph I took in a town near Amiens in northern France this summer, an ageless wonder.

A picture I took in northern France, near Amiens in 2012.

‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

The inspiration for the blog name itself came from recent album ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!‘, which was released by the Canadian post-rock band ‘Godspeed You! Black Emperor‘ a few months ago.  The band, originally hailing from Montreal, Quebec, have been playing as GY!BE since 1994 and have released 5 albums thus far.  Known for their long tracks, inclusion of spoken passages taken from old tapes into their music, and for playing film loops during their live shows, GY!BE have become a staple of my weekly CD rotation of music.  Independence, and being able to play what they want to play, has long been a strong motivator throughout the bands history, and as such they have always released albums via the Montreal based independent record label ‘Constellation’.  The band themselves work to, and maintain, a strong work ethos of independence within the largely conglomeritised music business, and help to produce local and international acts.  Letting fans actively record their gigs is heavily encouraged by the 8 person band.

If you are a big fan of singing, it may be wise to give this band a miss.  Content to rely on their instruments to invoke emotions and convey feeling, GY!BE engage with modern day politics in the world at large by highlighting contentious issues in their album artwork and live performances.  Never one to blow their own trumpet, they rarely advertise releases or upcoming tours, yet have attracted and maintained a dedicated fan base.  Although they rarely give interviews an insight into both the dynamic and the passion of the band can be gleaned from this Guardian email interview, conducted in October 2012, ahead of the ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!’ release date.

I have mentioned this band in past entries, and doubtless I will mention them again.  They remain a strong source of inspiration for achieving success in a way they wanted to achieve, and remain dedicated musicians.  As individuals they have also became embedded with their local music scene, pursuing involvements in other bands or helping to produce new artists.  This is something that I believe is key to helping maintain key connections and shared musical experiences.  If you have time, I heartily recommend a listen to Goodspeed You! Black Emperor.


“And so now we thrum our joyous tension in opposition to all of that. Things are not OK. Music should be about things are not OK, or else shouldn’t exist at all. The best songs ever are the songs that ride that line. We just try to get close to that perfection. We drive all night just to get closer to that perfect joyous noise, just to kiss the hem of that garment. We love music, we love people, we love the noise we make.” (source).

It Was Not The Scattered Shot of Bullshit

“The sun was high in the sky but it was coming down, it had to.  There was a mix of clouds hovering over above the heads of the five young people as they headed north at a steady rate.  A grey gravel path, strewn with half bricks that had been buried until only a small portion of the body was visible helped pockmark the way ahead.  The air was fresh, the evening slowly coming to an end.  Grass and the occasional bulrush hemmed the gravel, whilst the trees were placed along intervals a slight distance away from the free growing vegetation.  The sound of the voices did not carry as far as he had hoped.  As he pushed on he could hear the wind rustling the leaves that dangled and grew so freely amongst this sculpted park.

Pushing up the embankment, the rubber tyres gripped the loose pebbles in a forlorn embrace, gently forcing them backwards, arms and shoulders tensing to release the forthcoming locomotion.  The journey was not to anywhere in particular, but heading only certainly away.  Was it running away?  No.  Was it a test of speed, of improvement?  No. It was the breaking away from the group at a molecular level, a tiny revolution.  No niceties about pushing, no ball haranguing the back of the chair.  No hearing of the voices drifting aimlessly over topic, time, and distance.  None of the voices accountable for the thread of human relationship, of threads that had long since broke.

Mediation on the idea and valuation of the friendship process has caused a fault within the cranial cavity.  A revolution of thought processes that, in truth, had been lying in wait to rupture for some time.  The necessary faction that was missing was the catalyst, and it surfaced as soon as the opportunity showed itself.  Missed opportunities now relate to a total rethink of current situation, perhaps too much, perhaps too little.  Now the outwardly signs of me are me.  But can the author accept the changes so readily and accept the differences in the qualities of variables?  Do friends last forever, unchanged in basic essence since time immemorial?

The man walking the dog had said that it was a nice night.  He spoke the simple truth, the essence of simplicity in a remark thrown away.  It was not the scattered shot of bullshit.  It was not the aimless topics that meandered through the night air, that so drove me away.”