Thursday, 6 August 2009

Get this Write.

It's been a month for writers, none less than the military historian, Lawrence James, photographed in Fife. I was given the most wonderful hospitality chez James. 
What joy to fly from City Airport in East London. Park the bike and walk to the terminal which is less than 50 yards away. Drink a quick cup of coffee, and we're on board and taxiing in just a few minutes. Same in reverse, from plane to bike takes less than 5 minutes. How accustomed we have become to the truly ghastly and miserable experiences of Heathrow/Gatwick/Stanstead.
Still, that didn't prevent some pretty inane questions and an ineffectual search carried out by a security person (not sure of his/her sex) at Dundee. He/she was bored I expect. For a split second I considered packing my "I'm not a terrorist" placard the next time I fly. Sadly, security people have their sense of humour removed on day one of training.

Why the previous post about Goodwood? 
Apart from the riotous display of hats, it's plain good to see so many people enjoying themselves.
More than that, was this small coincidence. I bumped into a school friend at the race track from the 1960s, Alistair Down of Channel 4 Racing. We haven't seen each other since we were 12.
The previous week I had photographed the writer Jon Courtenay Grimwood (below) whose best friend, Alistair Merchant was someone else I hadn't seen since I was 12. The two Alistairs and I had all been contemporaries at the same school.
Jon was photographed in a Victorian cemetery. People love to walk their dogs there, but seem less keen on clearing up after them. One of the occupational hazards of photographing in strange surroundings is treading in or worse, kneeling in dog poo.

I forgot to add a photo of the novelist and poet Elizabeth Spelling in the previous post about photographing people, but we ended up photographing by a church. I'm drawn to churches like a bee to nectar. They often have large uninterupted expanses of wall to shoot against, which I like, though I never shoot inside them, unless I'm photographing a friend's wedding. They're definitely more preferable to graveyards for various reasons. 

And I was also lucky enough to shoot the writing team of Martin and Linda Waites. Nine times novelist Martin used to act before he got bored with playing baddies in The Bill. I'm always confused by the programme when I see it. I don't seem to be able to differentiate between the policemen and criminals, they seem equally good and bad, honourable and dishounourable, and so on. Just like real life I suppose, which is why no doubt, the series endures ad nauseam.

This confusion of goodie/baddie is an on going theme with the "I'm a Photographer, not a Terrorist" protest, see the link here.

Lastly, I took a rare train journey to Manchester to shoot Val McDermid, who was a delightful and stimulating subject to photograph. She was reading English at Oxford by the age of 17, and originally from Fife too.
She told me that most photographers want to photograph her with a meat cleaver, or some other similar murder weapon. Imagine being caught on a train with a meat cleaver. I once photographed a chap in Battersea Park with a very large axe. No one took the slightest notice.

Virgin trains have improved, but they are silly about not letting you travel on an earlier train, if for instance, you manage to get to the station ahead of the journey you are booked on. There's this really odd lack of flexibility about life in the U.K. and some seem to absolutely delight in enforcing it. It used to be just the preserve of the stupid or unimaginative to be inflexible, but it is now commonplace rather than the exception. It's a mystery to me.

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