If nothing else, I do love a good sky. Nothing gets the goosebumps going down your humble narrator’s arms like a series of massed clouds, all different heights and shapes and backlit by a peeking, curious sun. Not that I can ever capture pretty blue skies. No, your maligned teller of tales prefers the sucking dark vortexes that are manipulated clumsily into the warm blues and soft aquamarines of a gorgeous day. The kind of day that has people pointing like so many extras in a Superman film, wrapped up against another Northern Wind to observe another Northern Sky.
The houses are burning, as two seagulls soar like Lazarus from an imaginary inferno. I nearly tripped up a window cleaner. This is what happens when you abruptly catch a shot, crouch to your haunches to get the right angle, and a merry whistling man is unaware behind you.
Pulse and throb. After too much caffeine I can toss a coin on my heartbeat. I drank too much yesterday – tea that is – oh, look at the boy in the swanky ‘ironic’ bistro surrounded by old fairground dodgems with his long legs crossed drinking tea and reading a book like the fuck. It’s nice having a bar or a cafe to yourself, even as the waitress keeps throwing glasses around, smiling and apologising ruefully as more glass dances on the floor. I’m currently reading part the first of Cormac McCarthy’s Borders trilogy. His writing style tested my patience for the first thirty pages, which is usually the point at which I ignore all the lauditary quotes and the recommending nudges and noises of friends and acknowledge that the emperor is not only naked, but venting furiously and enematically. And then.
…a few passages would just grab me. I’d be dragged into the story and then pushed back out. I felt like I was in a boxing ring with a fighter content to tease and jab, dope on a rope, before coming back with another jawbreaker. Thirty pages later I’m hooked. I’m in the beginnings of a relationship here with three cowboys, and it’s exciting to me.
In the meantime, I still try and improve my photos every time. Much like with my stories, every new photo feels like a rehearsal for the next one. Nothing is permanent, nothing really feels like a statement. It’s an ongoing experiment, constantly playing with the light. Every time I wrote a story, I assumed I’d be going back to it one day to machete it up for something bigger and better, or using it as a launchpad. I suppose the good thing about all this is never knowing when the critical mass is reached. The bad side is you can walk right off the cliff without even realising you should’ve turned left and followed the edge.
I’m looking at flats at the moment, more seriously than before. It seems like I’m heading for Whitby. I just desire my own space in a way that I think has been chafing for a number of years now. I’m 32 years old and I’ve never lived alone – it’s always been with housemates or a partner. As hellishly expensive as it is going to be, somehow I think it will simplify things. On my own, I’ll need less distractions. I can get back to a basic way of life. With the notable exception of certain mind-altering liquids, all my favourite things in life are free – reading, taking photos, writing, hiking, people watching. When I go out on the moors I adore the wild countryside and the old standing stones and the spectacular scenery. But what I love, what makes me smile and makes my eyes water, is the silence.
I’ve been thinking a lot about innocence lately; innocence in creativity. Every night I get into bed and I treat myself to at least a month’s worth of Calvin And Hobbes strips. And it has dawned on me that what I love most about the series isn’t just the drawings, the characterisation or the wry dialogue. It is the feeling of innocence that surrounds it. Reading the strips, I can feel my soul being scoured clean from all the muck that accumulates when you are a naturally imperfect person. All the things I’ve said and done wrong on any given day, the aura that comes off from it leaves you feeling cleaner, a better person.
The innocence is in the execution. It is a series without any malice or alterior motive, and it has a purity of message. I’ve thought back to how many of my favourite books, musicians, works of art, I can honestly feel are innocent and untainted. I watched Boyhood recently and got a vague feeling of it, especially towards the end. But it’s ethereal and random. I don’t get this feeling from other pieces of sublime art that I adore – I don’t feel it from The Virgin Suicides, Withnail & I, Aphex Twin… even JG Ballard’s work, and he is as close to perfection as I can think of creativily.
These are just thoughts, ramblings really. I didn’t come here with any purpose. I just wanted to write something. Stick a few random photos up and talk shit. I’m the woozy drunk you accidentally make eye contact with in a bar you wish you had walked past, who proceeds to share all of his well-rehearsed philosophies. I work with a few people who are incapable of spontaneous conversation. Everything they say they have rehearsed in their own heads for minutes, maybe hours before. It’s the strange tone in their voice that feels low down in the throat. They stumble over words when you try and deviate from their script, or they repeat the same sentences over and over because this is the important bit and they’ve been going over your anticipated reaction in their own head, and you aren’t giving them what they wanted.
I took this photo using an open shutter after turning all my lights off. I’m sitting in front of the camera waving the torch light on my iPhone. Turn up the contrast enough and you’d see a buttock-smudge blur of hand gestures like arse paint, and a pair of terrifyingly white eyes.
Anyway, more words. More rhetorical questions. Like these.
Is there a place on earth where one of your childhood footprints still, literally, exists? Is there a corner of a muddy field covered by trees and untouched by any other beast where the small print of a shoe is as timeless and old as those on the Moon? I’m mildly annoyed that I never had the rebellious courage to stick my foot in wet, untendered cement or to scrawl my name into the mortar of a storm drain cover. One of the routes I walk, I step over footprints barely the length of my palm, spaced far enough apart to suggest a child running without a care for rules.
And then the tide receeds, blah blah blah. What a rush. I’m sure some people find all this sort of thing abrasive. They miss out on the even tone of the voice. Still, anything is better than three quarters of an article dancing around a single question, indispersed with admissions of a lack of expertise in the field, answered in one final line with a champagne and firework flourish of (shrug) and (dunno). But there I go souring the mood again. Such pretty pictures of pretty scenery and pretty things. Just ignore the black.