Monday, November 2, 2009

I want to become a Government supplier: X = 5,000,000

I have decided that I no longer care whether doing government work is boring. It is not. Nothing that makes you rich is boring - and becoming a supplier to HM Government or to Boris's London will make you very, very rich.

How rich? Well for painting a big "X" on a busy intersection you get five million quids. Yes, Five million quids.

Today saw the launch (or do I call it an opening?) of the new "Tokyo Style" intersection of Oxford and Regent Streets in London. These two very busy streets are at the epicentre of what must be Europe's busiest shopping district. The Tokyo style intersection will hold traffic going in all directions so that pedestrians can cross in all directions, including diagonally.

Judging from the aerial camera angles on tonight's London news, those people crossing diagonally all meet in the middle and dance with each other. Well, most dance. Others headbutt each other. Very curious. To help choreograph this new dance, the powers that be have paid five million quid to some people to come down with their lorries and surface the road with a special high grip substance, in the pattern of an "X" in a box.

My question is, why didn't they pay me just four million? Hell, for four million quid I would have made a much prettier design. There'd still be an "X" for that is what they would have asked for, but it would be a magnificent "X". It would have been an "X" with character, with flair. It would have been an ironic "X". It would have been slightly post modern with a twist of pre Raphaelite about it. I would have used a subtle palette of colours to help relax those who are stressed, yet also to excite the shoppers into spending money. I would have submitted a few carefully drawn options first and shown them to Boris over a long, boozy lunch, which I would have paid for. Hell, I would have done this job naked whilst smacking myself on my bottom with a rolled up copy of The Spectator if they wanted. I, for just four million quid, would give exceptional value for money. I would give my best.

Seriously though, where did five million quid go? The launch do?

I've been noticing this sort of ridiculous spending a lot lately. The Air Force decides it wants to give Flight Lieutenant Jim Jimminy McJimble a shiny new Eurofighter, so they go to the Ministry of defence who in turn go to Messers Thrust and Lift who quote a price of Some sixty eight million of her Majesty's shiniest sterling pounds. Yes, they pay sixty-eight million pounds for a single seater plane that doesn't even have room for a hostess and a drinks trolley.

At the same time as the Ministry of Defence is shelling out, actually, hosing away, £68 million per plane, British Airways decides Captain John Johnathan Johnstone is deserving of a new Airbus A320. That will cost between £40 and 50 million, depending on the layout configuration. And it carries lots of people and it has hostesses and a drinks trolley. And a kitchen - of which I approve.

It might be argued that the Eurofighter is hellish clever and pretty damn supersonic and all, and maybe it is, but I think that much of its cost lies in the fact that the government is the customer. I have a strong feeling that the makers would be able to sharpen their pencils a whole lot.

You hear it time and time again from government how this costs thousands and that costs millions if the government is paying, but if its private enterprise paying, see the magic as thousands turn into hundreds and millions into thousands.

America's not immune to this either. I read today that they are getting tired of the bicycles they provide as part of their free public transport initiative, getting stolen. The bikes cost $3,500 each. Each!!! Now, I know a thing or two about bicycles and I can tell you that a very, very good mountain bike can cost that amount, but there are very few of them about. I can also tell you that the commuter scheme's bikes are simple, uncomplicated and tough, but certainly not worth anything near even $500. It is ridiculous. Someone got rich.

Anyway, enough bitching. If you are Tony Brown or Gordon Blair or whoever is running the country, give me a ring and tell me what you want done. By the way, I have some military grade toilet seats, tested by genuine military bottoms in a simulated combat situation, that I can let you have for just £9,999 each. Military grade, I repeat.

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Deserve a Prize

Dear Mr Nobel and Co.

Thank you so much for giving my friend Mr Obama a Peace Prize. One of the reasons I would have voted for Mr Obama, had I been allowed to vote in the American elections, is that he sure looked like a peaceful kinda guy. Anyhow, well done.

Now I'd like to apply for one of your prizes too. I'm mainly interested in a Peace Prize as I'm not very good at mathematics or science. I am quite good at writing (and spelling), so I'll let you decide on that one. My heart though, is definitely set on a Peace Prize, and here's why I deserve one:

I don't shout at anyone anymore. I have retired from that game. Neither do I get into fights. I was always getting knocked out and to be honest, I'm now just too fat and old. I am still feisty and I still get into arguments, but that's because I like to pit my wits (such as they are) against others. Also because I'm always right (not that I'm boasting, its a burden I have to live with).

The reason I am so desperate to get a Peace Prize is that just like Mr Obama, I, one day in the future, plan to be REALLY peaceful. Yep, I'm going to lock myself in a white painted room with nothing to distract me or annoy me. I am going to think peaceful thoughts and and not even argue with myself. I know that sounds difficult but it isn't. You see, to argue with myself means I have to provoke myself - and if I'm being peaceful, I can't do that. Win-win!

Regarding dates, well, I'll let you decide that - although the sooner I get my Peace Prize, the sooner I can get on with carrying out my intentions.

Kind regards and expectant thanks


PS Do you do bank transfers or cheque for the prize money? Only I prefer a transfer because cheques still take a while to clear.

PPS Do I get a trophy too? It would look good next to my 2nd place (veterans) Enduro trophy that I won in 1999. I also won a (dead, plucked) chicken and a bottle of Zimbabwean wine (Mukuyu Cabernet) at that enduro and saw a dead python on the way home.

PPPS Do I get to attend a glitzy awards ceremony with a red carpet and all? I want to get papparazzied and go in a posh magazine like OK or Hello.

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Abominable Works of Zerx and His Friends

In 2012 London will be hosting the Olympic Games. Splendid! I am fully in support of the games as I do believe that there will be a permanent, useful legacy left behind in the form of stadia, housing and sporting facilities. I have no fear that the Olympic park will fall into a state of disuse as has happened in several cities.

Where I have a problem with the London Olympics is in its branding. Now I don't want to go into a rant about how horrible the logo is (it is awful), I want to go into a rant about its origins: Graffiti. Yes, the design agency that birthed this horrible piece of graphic art chose to celebrate the territory-marking piss dribbles of taggers. They, in their wisdom decided to, celebrate gang culture. Knife crime. Gun crime. Drugs. They decided to celebrate the lonely, dispiriting, expensive, ongoing battle a very nice, elderly Italian gentleman from my neighbourhood has with a graffiti tagger, who defaces his home on a weekly basis. Is graffiti what sums up London??

The 2012 Olympic Logo

Nearly all towns and cities suffer from the hideous scarring of graffiti. Some of it is a genuine attempt at making art - and on rare occasions it adds a positive, interesting detail to the cityscape. Most of the time it definitely does not. Some tagging is gang related – marking out territories. Most of it though, is simply the pointless, thoughtless handiwork of bored "youths" (some are well into their twenties) who just like to show the world where they have been. Quite why we would want to know where these pointless vandals have been beats me, but there is at least one valuable dimension to their 'work': We get to keep count. And each instance of their tags is (well, they bloody should be) one count of vandalism added to their charge sheet.

This tag "Zerx", is seen all over north west London in quite literally, thousands of places. I would be unsurprised if the cost of professionally repairing/removing the damage doesn't run into several millions.

What we need to be very clear about is that tagging is in no way a legitimate form of self expression. Tagging has no wit. It has no merit. It destroys the work of much better artists and architects. Near my home is a body shop and panelbeating business. The owner of the property commissioned a proper, bona fide graffiti artist to create some stencil paintings on his external walls. I liked them. My son's band even had their publicity shots taken in front of them. They were pretty clever. Simple black on white. They had wit - he'd created characters with cameras for heads and named them Mr FFFFFF etc. (after HTML colours). Whilst not being everyone's cup of tea, they were indeed art; the visual expression of someone's talent and imagination.

So there we are, a small body shop having added in its own little way to the artistic value of London. What happens next? I will tell you. "Zerx" whose many thousands of acts of vandalism litter north west London scrawled his tag in flourescent pink paint over the artwork, ruining it in just seconds.

In London, graffiti is considered to be if a crime at all, a minor crime. The police it seems, believe they are too busy to have to deal with it. (I challenge the police to arrest and charge this criminal - there is no question as to his identity) They have come to accept that our buildings, our architecture, our street furniture, graves (yes, graves), trees, shopfonts etc. are continually covered in ugly tags and obscenities. They appear to have given up. And why not? The courts merely treat taggers as naughty little scamps. They might be sentenced at worst to a little bit of community service (almost certainly NOT cleaning up the mess they created). They might be ordered to go for counseling (the poor little dears are releasing their pent up angst by defacing peoples' property). Bullshit!

The punishment does not fit the crime. There is no connection between the crime and the consequence. I can understand that the courts would not want to impose the death penalty on a tagger (Its been abolished, apparently) but to sentence them to a hug and a nice chat? That is just not justice.

It is my belief that if someone is convicted of tagging then they should be made to pay for the costs of having their work removed. Any of their victims should be allowed to pursue them for the costs of repairs. Obviously most of these idiots could never in a million lifetimes earn enough to properly pay for the damage they have created, but I believe that there should be a way of having for the next few years (depending on the severity of the damage), a deduction from either their benefits or their wages - when and if they ever bother to work.

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 14, 2009


This blog was originally to be about graphic design and marketing for small businesses, but from the off its been about that and just about anything else that enters my head. One day I will set up another blog for the other stuff and this can return to its original purpose. Perhaps...

Today, I want to write about something that has for the past 12 - 13 years been a part of my life. An unwelcome part, but a component that nevertheless interlocks with all the others that make me who I am: Cluster Headaches. We call them "The Beast".

As I write today, I am drained of almost all of my energy. My right eye is half shut - indeed, the right side of my face is drooping a little. I am short of breath, exhausted. My back aches and may arms feel far too heavy to be mine. They are someone else's, surely. I have to concentrate just to pick up a glass of water. Its heavy. I am utterly, totally and completely drained. I have the shakes and am mistyping every second word. Essentially, I have been beaten up again and again since yesterday afternoon. I am badly hurt and in shock.

Every few weeks (sometimes its several months) I get a visit from the Beast. Sometimes the attacks never amount to much as I catch them early and can prevent them going out of control - either that or the Beast chooses not to torment me this time, saving its vicious bile for another day.

When the headaches strike, its as though a thick, oozing, red-black poison is slowly flowing through my brain, invading and infecting its billions of vessels, cracks and crevices. I can almost taste it - coppery, acid, yet thick and cloying. My right eye aches horribly and sharp bolts of pain start arcing and flickering through my brain, increasing in intensity and frequency until they join together in a tangled knot of deep, black, Satanic agony that totally overwhelms me.

The pain is beyond breathtaking. Its like a whole bunch of those sharp, short "ice cream" headaches at once, yet with more depth, as though you've been hit on the head with a hammer. I pant. I try to walk away from it, I try to transfer it by pinching myself, by punching things. I have deliberately smashed my head hard against the wall before (Head 0, Wall 1). I try to hold my head, but that can be difficult too - I feel as though my hands could flay the skin from my skull. And then it gets worse. You never remember the pain until you get it again. "Stay calm!" I try, but my rational thoughts are attacked and overrun by the poison and I thrash about and gasp, and moan, a 100Kg, forty seven year old man reduced to a sobbing, gasping, helpless wreck calling for my mum.

They say that Cluster Headaches are supposed to be the most painful medical condition known; that a cluster headache is more painful than childbirth. Well, I don't know about that but if that is true, last night between the hours of 5pm and 11pm I had sextuplets. Fortunately, I had the Lovely Anna who knows how to help me calm down and regain control. Control is everything when dealing with pain. The few times I have properly lost control were not pretty - and to be frank, are dangerous to me as rationale goes out the window and madness creeps in. The pain is so vicious, so emotionally destabilising that self harm and indeed suicide seem perfectly acceptable options. That's the other name for Cluster headaches: "Suicide Head".

Little is known about Cluster headaches. Many doctors never come across a sufferer and so misdiagnosis is common (I self diagnosed after scouring the internet). They are not migraines. Migraine sufferers have different symptoms and exhibit different behaviour when suffering. Clusters are thought to be precipitated by something misfiring in the brain's hypothalamus, triggering a severe reaction in the trigeminal nerve - that's the huge nerve that controls our faces. I won't go into details because there are so many theories surrounding the condition, but if you want to know more, have a look here.

So, there I am twisting and writhing as the Beast invades me. What do I do? Well, to start, if I can get in quick enough, a can of Red Bull (a taste which I truly detest!) can abort an attack, but seeing as my headaches can go from nothing to full strength in less than a minute, this doesn't often work. I also have oxygen tanks that dispense O2 at 15 litres a minute and I breathe that. Not sure if it works, but having run out last night without a resupply until tomorrow, I am feeling quite vulnerable. I also take a "beta blocker", Verapamil in, according the pharmacist, dangerous quantities. This time they appear not to be working. And, I religeously take Nurofen "Migraine Strength" every four hours. I have several times managed to terminate a bout by just sticking to the Veraps and the Nurofens for a couple of days. Not so this time. If that's not enough medication, I have Imigran injections on standby too, but I hate them and they seem to have little to no effect.

(At this point I stopped writing as another attack with peaks and troughs between strength 5 and strength 9-10 commenced, lasting from 10.30am till about midnight.)

So here I am again. Another morning feeling exhausted. I actually managed to sleep a little last night, but woke up at 4. 30 without a headache but hungry. Ate a tiny bit of chicken pie and two new potatoes. Couldn't stomach more. Had a fruit salad instead. I am addicted. The sharp, sweet-sourness seems cleansing to me. Is it a craving similar to those experienced by pregnant women? (Well, it seems only fair that as a man, if I'm allowed to experience the pain of childbirth, surely I can have cravings too? Where will it end? ) Is my body demanding something that is in fruit salad?

I'm hoping that today I will not be subjected to another bout like yesterday which was particularly nasty but already the signs are not that hopeful - I have shadows - low-grade headaches that twitch and swirl through my brain - they are more a sensation than pain, but they can be the overture to the main event. They can (and lets all hold thumbs at this point) be the worst that can happen as the Verapamil gains the upper hand and the Beast is wrestled to the ground, rendered pretty much ineffective.

The other bit of good news is that at some point today I get replacement oxygen tanks and this neatly brings me to the most important part of this blog post: The pure, shining, glowing beauty of the NHS.

Right now, there are many, many people in the United States who also suffer from Cluster headaches. And they simply cannot afford to have them treated. I on the other hand, here in Britain have access to all the treatment I need. I don't pay for doctor's appointments. I don't pay for prescription renewals. Out of O2? I simply call the oxygen people and they deliver. For FREE! I pay just £7.60 for a month's supply of Verapamil. And I pay the same amount for Imigran Injections. Peanuts! If I had to pay for the Imigran, well, I wouldn't be able to - or I'd be too scared to use it in case I 'wasted' it when a greater need was lurking round the corner.

I do accept that in the States its not going to be simple to introduce a system similar to the NHS, and that there are many large and powerful organisations that make a killing (literally?) from selling health insurance, but come on America, you are not the Third World. Provide healthcare to your many, many people who have not benefited from your capitalist land of dreams. Use your imaginations. Your people have to use theirs - there are some sufferers who buy welding oxygen to help themselves. Sort it!

I count myself fortunate - beyond fortunate that I live in the UK. Back home in my beloved Zimbabwe I'd have to grin and bear it. In the States, I'd have to hand over all my earnings for relief. Most of all though, I am extremely lucky that my headaches are episodic. There are people who live day-in and day-out without a break for years with this awful condition. Even worse, there are a few children who have this mainly adult disease. How on earth does a child cope with these vicious, evil attacks? God protect them!

If you've read this far, well done. I'm unsure of whether I'm seeking pity or whether I'm just wanting to spread awareness of this disease. Lets go for spreading awareness. Its more gallant. Sure, I could always use a little sympathy, but then so could just about anybody - and if you have any, save it for the children and the chronic sufferers.

Have a look at this.

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jumping through hoops

Okay, I'm now getting grumpy. A lot grumpy.

After having my bank card stopped by my bank because some cretin nicked the details and went on a spending spree in the Philippines, I am expecting after ten days to get my new card sometime today. This means I will be able to spend money again – and make up for a weekend lost to being cashless.

My plan is to invite myself out for dinner. I am not sure where I will go yet, but it will be good. I like to treat myself well occasionally and I have narrowed my choices down to a few places, each of which I am sure will provide me with an excellent meal in a fine atmosphere. Wine will be drunk and I'll have a truly fascinating conversation with myself. Who knows, I might even take myself home and ask me in for a cup of coffee...

When I get to my chosen restaurant, it is my plan to have a look at the menu, select a dish and ask (via the maitre'd) for the chef to cook it for me to see if its what I would like to order. If it is not what I want, I will ask him to cook something else instead and I will, when it arrives, see if its a better option. I might, being an Olympic-level procrastinator, then ask for dish number one to be brought back so I can compare the two side by side. Hell, you know what? I think I'll take both dishes home so that the Lovely Anna can give me her opinion.

Then, because I want a really good dining experience, I will take both dishes back and summon the chef. We'll sit around the table and I'll tell the chef where the Lovely Anna thinks he went wrong. I'll also make some suggestions on how he can improve the dish. The chef, at this stage, should become quite tetchy. Lets christen him, "Tetchy Chef". I will ask him to humour me and once he has altered the two dishes as per the Lovely Anna's suggestions, I'll take them home again and ask her opinion.

Fresh from receiving the Lovely Anna's opinion, I will return to the restaurant and will summon the Tetchy Chef and the Maitre'd and suggest that perhaps the original version of the dish is after all, the better option. The Tetchy Chef will disappear into the kitchen and will reappear after some time carrying the dish that I and the Lovely Anna have so helpfully perfected for him. As he and the maitre'd prepare to unveil the dish, I will beckon a recently arrived young gentleman over and ask him to reveal the contents of his satchel: A Domino's pizza.

Placing the pizza next to the Tetchy Chef's dish, I will then invite all the other diners to "tell me what they think". I am of course, deeply aware of the value of market research. When the Tetchy Chef's dish is declared the better, I will then agree to have that dish served to me. (Me allow personal preferences to override market consensus? Heaven forbid!)


I want it for the same price as the pizza! And I'd like to have the sauce from Tetchy Chef's first offering. And the chips too. Also, would the Tetchy Chef mind awfully if he used the same pepperoni's from the Domino's pizza? You see, I want Duck a la'orange with chips, cheese sauce and pepperoni. And can it all be organic please. Organic's very "in" these days.

When my meal eventually arrives at my table, I will begin the long, laborious and not altogether pleasant task of chewing my way through the hideous concoction of clashing, lukewarm flavours. My witty and erudite conversation with myself will dry up as I try to look like I'm enjoying the results of my intervention in the Tetchy Chef's efforts. With the ingredients of the meal curdling in the boiling cauldron of my stomach I'd order more wine to try and soothe the heartburn. I'd glug down a huge draft, failing to notice the little raft of saliva floating on its surface...

Eventually, like most nightmares, the meal will come to an end. The Maitre'd will present the bill along with a mint. Of course, I will then take great umbrage. "What??? Twelve pounds??? Are you bloody mad? Hell, I've never had such a disgusting meal in my life! I have heartburn, a belly ache, and the wine to be quite honest, was bloody awful. Tasted like a smoker's spittle! Lets make things quite clear", I'd continue, "I have had to help you here. I have had to get my Lovely Anna to help. And I had to get all the other customers in the restaurant to help. You are supposed to be professionals! And you wanted to charge me two times as much as the cost of the pizza? I am not prepared to pay for this."

Now, I'm sure there are only a very few people on the earth who would torment a Maitre'd and a Tetchy Chef in such a way, but let me tell you, that if the Maitre'd and the Tetchy Chef worked in marketing, such mistreatment is rather more common. Common enough for me to feel bound to blog about it.

It is truly staggering the amount of "free meals" that are cooked in various creative studios around the world. Clients expect their agencies to offer a range of options and to be fair, agencies have gone along with this. Hell, I know I do. We have to jump through the most ridiculous number of hoops to satisfy clients that they are getting their money's worth. We have to endure "spouse input" ("she's done a course in interior design and is quite arty") and we have to be good natured about shoehorning the ideas of the client's "niece at art college" into our work.

I have lost count of the number of times I have had to explain to an incredulous client that because he wanted this, this and this added to his job he has to pay more. ("But you quoted me!") I have also been told so many times that "I could get it done cheaper in India" that I now wholeheartedly recommend the client takes his brief and fucks off to India.

Clients demand cleverness. They demand clarity. The need ideas that are crystalline and pure yet so many insist on amateurishly mixing awkward, ugly cocktails of ideas and influences. They work against, not with their agency and they make us try stuff we know will fail ("oh please just humour me...")

As agencies or lone "guns for hire" we have portfolios of work. Most of us have websites where the work can be seen. Clients or potential clients should be able to see quite clearly whether we meet their expectations. They don't need us to re-prove ourselves by doing expensive (to us, free for them) pitches for their business. Go by reputation. Go by track record. And then when you've selected us, don't try and change the way we work. Don't interfere unnecessarily, you'll usually end up muddying the water.

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Paving: I'm no expert, should have used one.

Because it was a long weekend I intended to have a well deserved, long lie-in followed by a leisurely listing of the relaxing, cool activities in which I'd indulge myself for the next three days.

I had little movies playing, as they so often do in my head, where I the Star, would be attending some sexy food market somewhere, purchasing the makings of a rather elegant (but casual) dinner. Another movie had me entertaining good friends with wine, and a braai (that's a 'barbecue' to those who are unfortunate enough not to be southern African).

Well what actually happened was this: I gave up trying to sleep at about 6.30am (thirst, backache, headaches, heartburn - all the usual stuff) and blurted out to the lovely Anna (my supervisor-cum-girlfriend) that I would like to build a patio for the braai.

Please read this story carefully because it will reveal an important moral.

Yes, we'd been humming and hawing about this project and I considered myself equal to the task. Just dig out a hole, make it level, toss in some sand and lay the paving stones on top. Doddle. I'd be done and dusted by lunchtime.

So after a "discussion" revolving around the layout of tiles, the repositioning of the composter, my alleged lack of spatial awareness, the fact that Anna is always right, the fact that she isn't etc. we headed off to Homebase, our chosen source of blue slate paving stones. After looking at all the things we don't need, we went out to where the paving stones were and proceeded to discuss (rather too bloody thoroughly) the merits of each individual stone and to pile them onto the trolley. Ow! They pinched my delicate, baby-smooth office-worker's fingers.

We loaded the car and headed home with our precious cargo of stones. I then proceeded to move the quarter of a tonne of paving stones through the house into the garden, noting how with each load my body ached a little more. Once the car was unloaded we headed off to B&Q to buy building sand. 6 bags, 25 Kg each. And then home again. for another 6 trips to and from the car...

I was feeling the burn.

Using pegs and string, just like real builders, we laid out the outline of the patio and I started to dig. We don't have a pick so I had to make use of a fork and a small spade or "spadette". I never expected there to be so much "spoil" (Get me, with the technical jargon!!!) which I had to lug across the garden in a rubble bucket. I was busting a big old sweat and my back was in agony. Four years later, I'd dug the hole, leveled it and had stood, swaying, sweating and wheezing gazing at the very disappointingly small, shallow indentation I'd created.

Ah well, onwards and upwards! All I had to do now was toss in the sand and lay the paving stones. It was very satisfying to slit open the bellies of the sand bags, spilling their contents into the hole. By bag number six it was obvious that I needed more sand. And we'd decided to just use all 300 x 300mm stones meaning I had to replace the three 600 x 600 stones with 12 new 300 x 300mm ones. Back to Homebase.

Once again I pinched my delicate designer's fingers and felt my back crunch alarmingly as I loaded another four bags of sand and 12 paving stones onto the trolley...

Once back home I repeated the car unloading pantomime lugging the dripping wet bags of sand through the house. And the paving stones...

Again I slit the bellies of the bags. Again I realised I needed more sand...

Day Two: Aluta continua...

Barely able to stand we made our way back to Homebase to buy more sand. And a rubber mallet. Again I lugged the sand through the house. Again I nearly passed out with exhaustion. "This is supposed to be simple!" I thought to myself and to make myself feel better I blamed Anna for all the woes in the world. She said, "Yes dear." and carried on supervising the trailing lobelia and geraniums.

And so it came to pass that I began to lay the paving stones. The first one took 20 minutes. I could NOT get it to sit level and at the correct height. I was almost tweezering in individual grains of sand in an attempt to get the bloody stone to sit properly, at the right height and to not rock. Stone number two was a bit easier. It took just 10 minutes. Now please bear in mind that I have what orthopedic surgeons call sore knees. I hate kneeling. I hate even more, standing up after kneeling as this hurts my knees and my (what spinal surgeons call) achy back. Added to this I have either a beer belly or a "food baby", I'm not sure which, weighing me down. I am not built for crawling on the ground. So I moaned, groaned and cursed and swore and blamed the ever patient Anna.

After paving stone number eight was laid it became apparent that there was an issue with the levels. Yes, they were all laid in a beautifully straight line, but paving stone number 8 was aiming skywards; the Ying was correct, the Yang not so. Buggeration. I tried to re-lay stone number 8, but this then showed up the problems with stone number seven. Stone six was influencing the angle of stone seven but was also being led astray by stone five. Stone four was... Sod it! I started all over again.

To cut a long and extremely tedious story short, I eventually did finish laying my patio. It has a few moments where it comes close to being level. If I squint my eyes It almost does look level. Almost. The tiles are all pretty close to the same height as each other and only some of the rock a little. I have assured Anna that "they will settle". Now all I need to do is assure myself of the same thing.

So here I am. Mr Braai Patio. Am I proud of it? Perhaps a little - I mean it is all my own work. Am I pleased that I did it? Perhaps a little - but it is not perfect and that irritates me (although not as much as doing it again would). I have to live with it. With second best. Anna stands on individual paving stones rocking... inspecting...considering. She reminds me a of a female weaver bird inspecting the nest her mate has just built...does she like it or will she rip it to bits??? So far so good, but I think she's being kind...

But the real lesson is this: An expert paver will have created a much better patio. It would be level. The tiles wouldn't rock. He would have had enough sand and the correct tools. He would not have broken a sweat digging the hole. He would have built the whole damn thing in a morning. It took me two long days and I'm now crippled. My back's killing me and every muscle in my body aches. My knees have handed in their notice. By contrast, my patio looks amateurish. It is amateurish and I thank God I don't have to use it to attract customers to my business, because it would reflect badly on me.

So, for the few small businessmen that read this blog, next time you want to create a brochure or build your own website, think of using an expert. Think of using an expert like me - and if it just so happens you want a brochure or a website for your paving company, I have some paving that needs sorting out. We can can do a little quid pro quo...

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Me 'olidays. Ah well, Britain will have to do!

Me. In Cumbria. Atop a hill. With a view.
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Copyright 2009 Paul R Davey. All rights reserved

For an extremely top secret reason, I am unable to travel to distant shores for me 'olidays. I consider this to be a major pain in the backside because I really do want to go to some places, far, far away for some very special reasons. Instead, I have to stay here in Blighty and make do.

That exciting aroma of Costa Coffee and jet fuel that permeates airports is for me, not a sign that I'm going away, but that I'm either fetching or dropping someone off at the airport. Its the smell of other peoples' fun and I find it makes me mildly depressed. For a maximum of three minutes.

You see, I have to forgo the sheer luxury of shuffling slowly along some pointless queue amongst the "other people" at Gatwick or Stanstead. I have to do without sitting next to Ms Halitosis and her 'ubby, Mr Tattoos on an Easy Jet flight to Malaga. (Why do these people always try to look like anxious, high level business travellers, despite their bizzarre holiday clothes, always checking their watches and making mobile calls as they pace about like Donald Trump as his empire comes crashing down? Kevin, you're not fooling me. I can see you're just a low level sales rep, a denizen of a thousand Travel Lodges, not Alan Bluddy Sugar!) I can't share in the collective pleasure with my fellow travellers as they listen to yet another flight delayed announcement. No, I have to stay here. In the dreadful Britain that they seem so keen to escape. Several times a year.

The Descent.
Kirkstone Pass, descending to Ullswater, Cumbria

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Copyright 2009 Paul R Davey. All rights reserved

Yes, I have to suffer the sights of Britain. In Britain, whilst they, the lucky (?) travellers, get to suffer the British in Spain/Greece/Portugal/wherever. Just like the Brits that travel abroad, I too can drink a pint in the Red Lion/Hearty Gardener/Jolly Farmer/Whatever. The difference is, that my Red Lion is a nice, quiet pub in a gorgeous, stream braided scenic valley, full of nice, interesting people quietly discussing the next mountain walking trip, the best hiking boots or the latest Shimano mountain bike groupset. They are, you see, my kind of people. In my kind of pub. In Britain, near a mountain. And a river. And a beautiful view.

Ullswater, Cumbria
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Copyright 2009 Paul R Davey. All rights reserved

A thousand or more miles away, other Brits are in their Red Lion in Benidorm watching Ms Halitosis and Mr Tattoo having a foul-mouthed, tobacco-and-boozed-breathed knock-down, drag-out barney whilst their putrid offspring are trying to drown the rather bookish child of a couple who are on one of those hideous "Holiday Swap" programmes. (No, Mr TV producer, Holiday Swap programmes are not "an interesting insight into the human condition". They are the lazy-minded, slackjawed spawn of creatively barren minds for the lazy-minded and intellectually barren... oh shit, I'm ranting).

Martindale, Near Ullswater, Cumbria
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Copyright 2009 Paul R Davey. All rights reserved

I used to resent not being able to go away and to be fair, still do wish to go to places like Morocco, Nepal, and Alaska as well as some VERY remote places which will remain a secret. I would never sign up to one of the revolting package deals in "Spine" that so seem to attract the "other people". Not even in my worst nightmare. You see, I have at last, after nine years living here, discovered BRITAIN! And it is bloody amazing!

Stone Bridge, Cumbria
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Copyright 2009 Paul R Davey. All rights reserved

In the last few weeks I have been fortunate enough to have had two short holidays both in spectacular locations. I went to Pembrokeshire in Wales and I've just returned from the Lake District in Cumbria. Both places are fascinating and absolutely stunning in terms of the scenery. As a photographer, I can honestly say that I was spoiled for choices of where next to point my camera. Its easy to take great photographs (if I say so myself) in these places. The light angle is low-ish all day and its quality is superb - it gives everything a slightly too-saturated look, but when it comes to processing the images, only the very slightest of tweaks are necessary to make the photographs really sing.

Martindale Stream, Cumbria
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Copyright 2009 Paul R Davey. All rights reserved

And then there's the people. They are fantastic! Let me tell you about parking in Tenby in Wales: Me and my lovely Anna needed to go shopping so we pulled into a parking garage. I got out the car to do the pay and display ritual and Anna decided to ask the car park attendant lady for directions to the shops. Well, the car park attendant lady was just beginning to write out a ticket for a car that had overstayed its welcome. She told Anna that she "felt a bit guilty" because she didn't like issuing tickets to people who were there on holiday - "they might not return"!!! The overstayer by the way, had been given an hour's grace! For a Londoner, for that is what I am these days, this was madness! Unbelievable.! Hell, in London the parking attendants would happily stand in the middle of the M25 in fast flowing traffic (okay, fast flowing is somewhat unlikely, but stay with me on this one) if they thought they could slap a ticket on a windscreen.

Post Box and Daffodils, Cumbria
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Copyright 2009 Paul R Davey. All rights reserved

Yes, outside of London - the Cotswolds, Wales or Cumbria, the people are warm, kind and welcoming. And the beauty of it all is that those who aren't warm, kind and welcoming are usually plastered to a bar stool, getting dribbling-drunk in the Red Lion in Torremolinos, in the company of others of similar stripe. Bargain!

Living here in the UK we tend to forget that we live in one of the world's great tourist attractions. Our Islands are in fact one giant and spectacular natural theme park where stupendous scenery makes up the backdrop against which architecture, art and cultural diversity are harmoniously blended with wonderful, sometimes mystifying traditions and colourful, kind, interesting people. If people from all over the world fly in here every day, there must be something worth seeing. And there is. I spoke to so many people in Cumbria (we were at a wedding) who said that they'd never been there before. Many of them my age or even older and had lived all their lives in the UK.

Ullswater and the Road to Martindale, Cumbria
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Copyright 2009 Paul R Davey. All rights reserved

People here complain about the prices of holidaying in the UK. But how can you complain about the prices of the priceless? Britain is accessible. There is something for all budgets, but I'd like that to be kept secret. You see, I want Ms Halitosis and Mr Tattoo to keep going to Spine. That is where they belong, not here in this beautiful, lyrical place that so effortlessly coaxes out the poet in your soul; that so cleverly steals your heart and makes you at least for a few days, hers and hers alone!

Kirkstone Pass, Cumbria
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Copyright 2009 Paul R Davey. All rights reserved

I feel I may have made some generalisations about people. Oh dear!

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Please Note: I actively pursue those who steal my work . If you want to use any of my images or writing for any purpose, please ask first and thus avoid any massive lawsuits that will beggar you, your children, their children and their childrens' as yet unborn children. If I can't get rich selling my work, I sure as hell can by suing those who chose to steal it!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ahem...ummmmm errrr...

This blog post is a little shameless self promotion before I disappear tomorrow to the Lake District, on a shoot. Well, to a wedding (that I am not photographing) that will be one afternoon and an evening. The rest will be a mixture of photography and exploring the area with Anna. I've never been to the lakes before, but have always wanted to go. I don't care what weather we have, because I bet it will be photogenic anyway!

Over the last couple of weeks I've been uploading some of the photographs made on my trip to Pembrokeshire. I think I've cherry-picked the best out of 1,000 images - there are lots of others, but like a wine collection, its nice to let them mellow and maybe in a few months or years' time I'll see them in a different light and put some more up. For now, there are about 20-25 new images, which for a week's shooting, ain't too shabby!

So what Have I posted? More to the point, what have I put up for sale on my website? Lets take a look.

There's this photograph of St Ann's Head at the entrance to Pembroke Harbour. It was shot perhaps half a mile from the lighthouse on the coastal path. There's nothing to give it scale, but had I slipped and fallen into the sea, I'd have been able to have a long and leisurely panic with my life playing in slow motion before my eyes...

On the one day, my lovely Anna and I went for a drive to the Preseli Hills near Fishguard. On the way back, having passed through St Davids we stopped off to investigate Druidston Haven and the hotel there for future reference. The sun was shining on the sea and yielded me several very dramatic images, including God's Spotlight.

One thing I never expected to do was any sports photography. Well, I should have, because I did. Early one freezing morning near Tenby there were a handful of kitesurfers preparing to face the FREEZING water. I was convinced my 200mm lens wouldn't cut it, but fortunately they seemed to like blaying on the inshore waves. Shooting into the sun is never easy, but I did manage to get a few keepers in the twenty or so minutes I was there. Take a look at this one.

Those who know my work will know that I am very fond of creating stripped-down images. When nature is the subject, it is too easy to fill the view with scenery and you miss the big picture. I photographed these cows as they grazed on a hillside near Dale at the mouth of Pembrokeshire harbor. Here's a different shot of the same crew. Let me know which one you prefer (by buying it???) :-)

Low angle sunlight can be a real pain, especially with my wide angle lens. Fortunately, I had my long lens on when I saw this view.

Finally, having been back to the earlier pages of my gallery, I just have to ask you to look at this photograph, which is, I think, my favourite of all my work.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact me. :-)

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A little catch-up

I really do need to make more effort with this blog, but at the same time, I'm trying not to write just for the sake of writing something; this is not about quantity, its about quality.

Kensal Green Night Shoot

First off, a brief report on my efforts to spook myself. On the full moon before Easter, I decided it would be clever and energetic to get off my backside and do some night shots in the Kensal Green Cemetery. It never ceases to amaze me how good I feel when I make the effort to go and take photographs instead of "doing the usual".

Cross and Moon
Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Unfortunately, by the time I'd cooked dinner and eaten, the moon was quite high in the sky, so I had to write it off as one of the subjects for the shoot. There is a broken fence that has replaced the cemetery wall that collapsed (how clever is it to have hundreds of graves, all subsiding right next to a 16ft wall?). I snuck in through the gap in the fence and started wandering around the various graves and monuments that I know are good subject matter.

I have not done much night photography and was quite disappointed by the very urban, very bright sodium glare from streetlighting, coupled with the fact that the Heathrow approach path was running west to east, right through the darkest bit of sky. I set up a few 30 second time exposures and ran around various monuments illuminating them with a small LED light, with mixed results. I also did a few shots over 30 seconds with my flashgun hand-held, flashing once at the beginning of the exposure and once (after re-charging) at the end, dashing between two different positions so as to give two light sources per exposure. Again, varying degrees of success.

Sentenel 3
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Note to self: Get some portable battery-powered studio lights, get permission to shoot in the graveyard so guerilla tactics can be avoided. In other words, make the shoot a proper, planned production.

One shot I wanted involved a musoleum. I wanted to flood the inside of it with light and have it illuminate the ivy-clad tombstones outside. I set up my tripod and composed the shot (note to self: bring a powerful torch to enable acccurate manual focusing on the subject) then st the exposure to 30 seconds then hoped, skipped and jumped over the jumbled graves into the mausoleum with my flashgun, firing it twice at various walls. I repeated this a number of times at various aperture settings. Results? Medicre. Spook factor: Medium-high.

One of those shoots I was glad I had done, despite results that were below my expectations. Over the next few months I want to master night photography. Plenty more trips to the cemetery!

Easter in Wales

St Brides
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St Brides is a lovely bay in Pembrokeshire, Wales, west of Milford Haven
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Over Easter me, my lovely lady and my splendid daughter went to Wales. To Pembrokeshire, in fact to enjoy a week with the bulk of my family at a place called Saundersfoot, near Tenby. Which is near Pembroke. Which Is near Milford Haven. In Wales. Got it?

Obviously, I considered it a clever idea to take my camera gear and use the week essentially as a long landscape shoot. In the end, I shot over 1,000 raw images which will probably shake down to no more than 20-30 "keepers" - not that I ever throw any photographs away.

The Church Doors
Skrinkle Bay, Pembrokeshire
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

The last week has seen Lightroom and Photoshop sweating as I clean up and manipulate the images, and my RedBubble account has seen a lot of action as I upload said images and then 'farm' them - posting them to various groups, plus Stumbling them etc.

Kite Surfer, Tenby
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned on this trip was to be more grateful of the opportunity to shoot in such a stunning location . I thought I was being a good, diligent photographer by getting to Saundersfoot harbour 10 minutes before sunrise. In truth, I wasn't. I should have been at a previously recce'd location at least an hour before sun-up. I should have pursued just one photograph instead of machine-gunning the entire area with my camera and every lens I possess. The results were inevitable: a couple of okay shots standing head and shoulders above a hundred or so entirely mediocre pics.

That said, I did come away at the end of the week feeling quite satisfied with several photographs, some of which are now for sale.

Sister and Niece
Wisemans Bridge, Pembrokeshire
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

I'll be going back, possibly in the summer with my son and his girlfriend and I promise to be up and shooting at least an hour before dawn, and will also shoot at sundown and for at least an hour after.

Nab Head, St Brides Bay, Pembrokeshire
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

With my 28-200mm lens out of action, I was unable to use my 72mm polariser on my, essential for photographing landscapes at this time of year when the sun is low and there is a bit of haze from the sea. I missed it an awful lot, even holding it over the 58mm front element of my 50-200mm zoom. But what I also missed and MUST get were a range of neutral density filters to help tame the low-sun glare.

Dawn Patrol
Photographed as the mist cleared in Pembrke Dock, just after sunrise
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

On top of this, the sea mist - invisible most of the time - coats the front lens element and on my wide angle, this created havoc with sunspots. A lens shade that I can mount onto the hot shoe is another "must". Oh, and image stabilised lenses. Did I mention a new camera? I need one. NEED, not want.

Copyright © 2009 Paul R Davey. All photographs, text and artworks in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Paul R Davey unless otherwise stated. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sunday in the Countryside

Having attended a swanky engagement party for my very good friends Ian and Heather on Saturday night, and having had my equally good friends Sue and Fernando staying with us overnight, I was unsurprised to wake up on Sunday morning with Hangover Vulgaris.

Despite having gone to bed late and quite bladdered, I was still awake early, fighting to fall asleep again. Then I remembered that Mr Button and his friends had some work do do so I staggered through to the sitting room ("lounge" is almost a banned word in our house. Chavvish, apprently) to watch the Aussie Grand Prix. Yay for Jenson!

Eventually my lovely lady got up and so did my splendid house guests. Teas and coffees all round, accompanied by bacon sandwiches. Yum.

Click to enlarge.
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey.

Post Bacon sarnie, S & F had to go back home and reunite themselves with their daughters and I decided to go on a photo shoot.

Recently, I've felt as though my photography is getting into a bit of a rut. I'm not seeing properly. I'm just looking and there's a difference. My forays into the urban underbelly have been to be frank, a little underwhelming. I've returned with images, yes, but nothing that gets my heart racing. Nothing that I can look at and think, "I wish I'd shot that! Oh, wait, I did!".

On Saturday afternoon I had done yet another shoot at Kensal Green Cemetery - a rich feeding ground for my camera, but having spent many hours there in the past, It was all a bit samey. I have yet to process the 200-odd frames I shot there.

For a change, I decided that I would use my car for the first time in about four weeks and head out into the country, swapping urban grit for the countryside. Good decision! I drove west along the M40 into Buckinghamshire, exiting the motorway at Stokenchurch and then winding along some of the lovely narrow country lanes, eventually stopping for a walk up what I think is called Chinnor Hill. It was so good just to be out of the London area, watching some type of Kite sweeping across the sky, seeing people out with their dogs (Labradors have such proud faces when they are carrying a very large stick). I climbed the hill and took a few photographs - nothing staggeringly clever or anything, but worthwhile just for the pleasure of being outdoors in the countryside.

Spring View From Chinnor Hill
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

I decided to move on and spent an hour or so just getting lost, avoiding anything as vulgar as a road capable of two way traffic. I eventually found my self in a place called Lee Common where I got out of the car, grabbed my tripod and gear and took a large number of exposures of a little cottage and its surrounds on what I think might be the Lee Common. This cottage has no driveway, no road passsing its front gate, nothing. It was just there in the middle of this lovely parkland with an avenue of trees leading up to it.

Click to enlarge
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

The light was fantastic - a warm golden quality and the sun was still low enough in the sky as to make shooting a pleasure; long strokes of sunlight painted onto the lush spring grass. Total feelgood!

Lee Common Cottage 2
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Copyright 2009 Paul Davey

Eventually I moved on wanting to find somewhere to shoot the sunset, but ended up getting trapped into a whole "A" road and then Motorway situation and before I knew it, I was London-bound on the M1, Sylosis blasting out LOUD on the stereo.

Perhaps the best news of the weekend though is that the clocks have gone forward again: Summer has been switched back on!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The dangers of a sunny weekend

I am somewhat alarmed to note that the weather this weekend will be what meteorologists describe as "lovely".

Now, there was a time when I was delighted to hear that the weather would be lovely, especially in early spring. I'd get my beloved sea kayak onto the roof rack and head for the Thames and have a lovely, long paddle about 15km upstream and then drift back down nice and leisurely like. Sadly, I no longer have a sea kayak. It was too big for London and my ex secretary type lady grew tired of having it cluttering her garden so I sold it. Bah.

I also used to delight in going cycling on a lovely sunny weekend. I'd get my mountain bike out and go for miles, exploring the countryside or the city. Sadly, my bike is, to use technical jargon, fecked. I need a new rear suspension bearing kit which is as expensive as a decent 50mm lens. Lenses are more important right now. But not as important as my overdraft and my desperately agitated bank manager.

This weekend, whilst the weather is sunny and photographic conditions are bound to be perfect all day, I have to stay at home. My other half's parents are coming. Now, don't get me wrong, I am glad they are coming. I like them. and having done a lot of shoots recently, don't need to go out on yet another one. A nice, salady lunch will be perfect. An inspection of the garden will will feature on the programme and I'm likely to see some post-prandial dozing which I find amusing.

So what is it about a lovely sunny spring day that fills me with dismay? I will tell you:

It is the neighbours. The bloody, bastarding neighbours.

I am still not used to having other people living so close to me and frankly, I do not like their "ways". I try to be tolerant as I have been reminded several times that "this Is London".

I have never been a fan of the Beatles (Much as I'd like to divert into a rant about them, I won't) which means that I'm not necessarily well disposed to their fans either. We have one neighbour, to whom it has quite obviously never occured, that I don't in fact want to hear his stereo belting out beatles songs all afternoon. Nor do I want to hear him singing along. It doesnt make me think of him as a happy, summery soul. It makes me think of him as a legitimate target. He lives about three houses away.

Our next door neighbours upstairs are Jamaican. They like nothing better on a nice day than to throw open their kitchen window and blast a simultaneous mix of the Eastenders Omnibus on their TV-for-the-deaf alongside seventies soul and reggae. Because this aural chaos isn't enough, the lady of the house embellishes it with whistling that is so tuneless that all the creatures of the forest who inhabit our garden run away terrified. When the noise reaches its peak, the man of the house then decides its time to call his buddies in Jamaica. He has a deep and booming voice and a number of forthright opinions that he shares with all of us as well as his friend in Kingston.

Then there is "Little Brazil". I have a number of potato sized rocks - cobbles - if you will, that are gaining enormous value for me. They have been elevated from humble potato sized rocks to the status of (semi)guided missile. Little Brazil likes to treat us to samba/rhumba whatever played at size 11 on the stereo. Little Brazil is a good six houses away. My (semi) guided missiles have the range.

We also have a church 3 houses away that rents its hall out to various small congregations. Now, this hall that they use is not big and the congregations number a maximum of about thirty - I have counted them. Why then, do the preachers need to use a microphone and a PA system to deliver their fire and brimstone messages? I can guarantee you normal conversational pitch would do. Why does the 'band' (and I use the term loosely) need such amplification? The worst thing is, they have band practice on Saturdays and then a succession of services on Sunday afternoons. A never ending stream of incompetent music and unsolicited "ALLAYLOOLYAH! PRAIZALOD!" (in some accents it sounds like "PRAY SALAD") Sometimes, in moments of particular Christian fervour, the drummer will punctuate appropriate milestones in the preacher's message with a ba-da-boom-tish! There are a lot of appropriate milestones, apparently.

Clearly this vexes me. And, after three years of being forbidden to retaliate by my lovely lady, I have sworn that this year I will teach my neighbours a lesson. You see, if they want to assault my eardrums and shatter my peace, I will do the same unto them. Thricefold. I happen to have a son who is a musician. He's in a band whose musical style is in the genre of "Death Metal". He and his bandmates are always looking for somewhere to practice and I have just the place: my garden. I've paced it out and there is enough space for a 20KW concert PA with just enough room left over for the 5 members of the band.

I've seen this band live and they unleash a truly withering thunderstorm of obscene noise. Trees will shed their leaves. Babies several miles away will spontaneously combust. Windows will shatter and the ground will quake. That first Pimms of the season? Forget it. It will explode and sever Mr Summertime Beatles' head.

Of course, I know that death metal is not to everyone's tastes, but neither is the work of messers Lenon and McCartney or Mr Teddy Pendergrass. I also realise that the gentleman in my son's band who does the 'singing' may cause some minor offence when he volunteers to dine upon a living person's liver or to clothe his body in the entrails of someone's daughter, but I'm sure most of my neighbours will understand, after all, "This is London!"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rudderless on Sunday

Today, after staying in bed till NINE THIRTY, I decided to go and shoot in the Elephant and Castle area of London and then head west-ish to the Brixton/Clapham in search of urban grit.

Well, I got to Elephant and Castle, but when I came out from the underground I was navigationally discombobulated. I couldn't tell my north from my south-south-east. Elephant and Castle is basically a huge traffic roundabout (gyratory for the Americans) and pedestrians get to cross this roundabout by a series of tunnels where no doubt, they keep muggers. Fortunately it was Sunday today so all muggers were off duty.

Detail from a derelict shop front, Elephant and Castle

Copyright 2009 Paul Davey. Buy this image here.
Click to enlarge.

After wiggling my way round the roundabout in a roundabout fashion, I ended up roundabout where I thgought would be the best place to proceed west or thereabouts. Don't ask me the name of the road, but I can assure you that it was still a London Road and I had not stepped via the tunnels into a nether world. I think.

I proceeded in a westerly direction, guided by the aeroplanes on their approach to Heathrow. I zigged and zagged through the quiet Sunday streets looking - hunting - for photographic opportunities until I found myself by the arches supporting the railway line into Waterloo.

Stacked Boxes.
An interesting piece of architecture, Lambeth

Copyright 2009 Paul Davey. Buy this and other images here.
Click to enlarge.

I love railway arches but sadly it appears so do many other people and the once grunky arches are now all boringly refurbished with neat roller shutter doors. My quest for urban grit was quashed. Whenever I did find a smidgen of ghetto grime, I attempted to photograph it. Alas, my efforts were not spectacular. And it started raining. I'd left home not ninety minutes before with just a few well art-directed fluffy white clouds in the sky. Now my camera's almost non-existant weather sealing was being challenged by H20 droplets. Yep, its not waterproof. Or showerproof. And neither is my camera bag.

Old Pipes
Detail from a railway arch, Lambeth
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey. Buy this and other images here.
Click to enlarge.

Now, I do love London but: Why, when for many, many centuries it has rained every second day or thereabouts have they not yet passed into law that commercial buildings must have a canopy that covers the pavement? I come from Zimbabwe where senior government officials happily drive through police roadblocks carrying headless torsos. Where stealing a man's hard-built business is considered not to be a problem and where child molesters are looked upon fondly as loveable rogues. But design a building that does not offer the pedestrian shelter from the rain and all hell will break loose. And It only rains for three or four months in Zimbabwe - and even then it has the decency to rain from 4pm sharp till about 4.32pm - and that is it!

Detail from a railway arch, Lambeth
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey. Buy this and other images here.
Click to enlarge.

I got wet.

Eventually I made my way to Waterloo and got on the tube to go home.

Naturally, by the time I got home, Noah had beeen stood down and the sky was once gain blue with cute, fluffy white clouds. I had a brief look for action on Redbubble but there was not much to be had, so I decided to go on a second shoot, just walking from my house through the Mitre Bridge Industrial Estate and then back along the canal. Not very inspiring, but s usual, I did manage to find a few half opportunities, so I took them.

Linear Security
Mitre Bridge Industrial Estate
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey. Buy this and other images here.
Click to enlarge.

One shot I didn't take was of some "yout's" in silhouette crossing a bridge. They saw me and subjected me to a bit of verbal abuse. "Stop fuckin' abusing my fuckin' human rights!" one of them yelled. "Please God, give me the chance to show that kid what abusing his human rights actually is", I wished. I'll say no more, lest I end up in jail for the crime of wishing kids these days would have some mannners.

Derelict Office Block
A 1970s office block that's been abandoned by the Grand Union Canal in Harlesden
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey. Buy this and other images here.
Click to enlarge.

I had a wander around the grounds of the derelict office block I have visited before, amazed at the amount of shoes left lying around... I took a few more broken window pics and yet again chickened out of actualy entering the building. Its spooky.

Willesden, London
Copyright 2009 Paul Davey. Buy this and other images here.
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Well, as happens in this modern world, the sun lowered in the sky and I walked slowly along the canal, stopping to see whether what I thought might make a shot actually would (it seldom did). Unfortunately there wasn't much by way of quality in the evening light, thanks to a distant bank of clouds weakening the sun's rays, but the stroll along the canal towpath was good anyway as I calmed down from being yelled at by the "yout's".

Not my best day's shooting, but there are a couple of 'interesting' images...

Friday, March 6, 2009

The case of the missing mojo

Like most creative people, my productivity and work ethic has its peaks and troughs. Right now, we have, ladies and gentlemen, a trough. A rather big one.

First of all the excuses:
  1. There is a recession and we're all gonna die.
  2. I have been suffering from an extended, erratic bout of cluster headaches that are supposed to have buggered off.
  3. Its a bad time of year for business.
  4. I am in love with RedBubble. It distracts me horribly.
  5. I can no longer advertise for free on Gumtree.
  6. I am desperate to work with people. I work alone and have no one to feed off, to banter with, to discusss ideas with, to compete with.
  7. I no longer feel creative when I'm designing a logo/flier/ad/ I feel like I'm trying to save it from destruction by the client. Who usually wins.
  8. I want to take photographs. That is what I love.
  9. I am tired, tired, tired.
  10. I feel like a cheap whore, appreciated not so much for the pleasure as the price. (Yeah, yeah, I am my own creation etc.)
I have in the past spent a good deal of energy trying to encourage small businesses to be positive and to seize the moment etc. Now is the time we should be claiming market share hand over fist as the big businesses turn to smaller, more agile and cost-efficient businesses to deliver goods and services. But there is just so much GLOOM!

This whole recession is not so much as a result of the banks being utterly bloody useless, (they are D'oh!) but the media hyping things up. Good people of the m, yes that's you Mr Bloody Peston, the stock market is fueled by SENTIMENT! If you upset a trader he will cause stocks to plummet. If you upset a herd of traders, you get a fecking landslide. Stop doing it! Stop making us think we should not have bothered to get out of bed.

No one has their eye on the ball. Not me, not the government. More energy has gone into trying to strip some ex bank MD of his pension than in trying to get the banks to buy in to the latest central bank interest cuts. Mr Government (that's you, Darling), pull your finger out and start instructing the banks that you part-own on what action you want them to take. Make them lend. And kill this bonus culture while you're about it, if it bothers you that much. You're the boss! Put a Cap on bonuses for 3 years - nothing above 100k for the most senior execs. (Don't worry, Darling, they won't all leave banking suddenly - no one else will have them!)

Such malaise!

I have some work on... just a little and its like wading through treacle. A constant stream of severe headaches serves only to interrupt my pointless procrastination and ineffectual fluttering of my hands as I wonder what to do, how to save myself, how to save my business, how to save the world.

Such negativity! From Moi? I am astounded. Not.

Here's what I will do to turn this situation on its head:

  1. Every day I will commit a deliberate, gratuitous and wanton act of kindness. I think this is necessary because I forget to be kind and I forget how fortunate I am, even though I feel unfortunate myself sometimes.
  2. I am going to do this blog daily and list my achievements
  3. I will create at least one "keeper" photograph every day either from my existing stocks or from shooting something new
  4. I will do client work before ANY of my own work each day.
  5. I will phone at least one client every day and will grow a more mature attitude to telephones in general, which I detest)
  6. I will start being less dismissive of my work. I will no longer let a client ruin my work for the sake of expedience. The customer is often wrong.
  7. I WILL find a way of getting a new camera so that I can start seriously shooting High Res. stock images.
  8. I will take a walk of at least one hour a day. With camera, regardless of weather.
  9. I will eat properly and sensibly.
  10. I will stop dwelling on things that I cannot change.
  11. I will treat my only member of staff with the love and respect she deserves.
  12. I will work hard for the future that I won't be able to enjoy if I don't.