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.
Click to enlarge.

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.