Saturday, 25 April 2009

Greenhouse Finished! Woo Hoo!

Yes, I know the blog has been neglected again, no excuses really, just the weather being good meant the garden could be tended in comfort and the weather being what it is , you dare not miss an opportunity or you'll be out there doing the essentials ankle deep in mud with a hurricane blowing around your ears. I may have mentioned the building of a greenhouse being undertaken by Bill, it is now up and growing stuff. Just went out and took the picture you can see beside this bit of text, still got a lot of sorting out to do around it, but we thought we should get everything that was hanging about on windowsills and practically filling up what was Hannah's bedroom into place and as you can see, Bill is already tending our future crops! Amazingly the whole thing probably only cost us about £60.00 as we were given some wood, had some wood, had rolls of plastic for cold frames and even had most of the paint left over from previous jobs. most of the cash went on the poly carbonate roof panels. Possibly a little rustic for some tastes but it suits us down to the ground, and you haven't seen our shed! They kind of match in a corrugated iron sort of way, an architectural version of designer distress. So there it is, my excuse for a blog and the excuse for not getting it done before. Normal service will be resumed soon, Sarah is away this weekend for our once in a blue moon bit of respite, much needed since, to put it politely she has been a pain in the neck for the last couple of weeks, but these things always resolve themselves. I am having a weekend off, which means catching up here, and probably Twittering too much, thinking about Hannah and wishing her a happy 21st birthday for tomorrow, and wondering where the f*** the years went, and looking forward to Tuesday more than anything because I'll be going down to Cardiff to meet Hannah, have a mooch around in the afternoon and then the CIA for Bob Dylan in the evening, staying down there overnight so there is no rush. A really good day out! It won't be so long before next blog... promise...

Monday, 13 April 2009

Spring Time, Easter and the Moon.

Just realized that I have neglected the blog this week, oh dear, and last week. Consider wrist slapped. No excuse I know, but Sarah has been putting us through it a bit. This is a really awkward time of year for her.
She has deeply embedded routines, some daily, some weekly, some monthly and some yearly. She carries a calendar in her head and can give you accurate dates of events that have touched her going back to when she was a small child, and she will be 24 in December. There is not much we have been allowed to forget.
The most important annual events for Sarah are obviously Christmas and birthdays. It is not just family and friends birthdays, oh no, anyone who spends more than five minutes trying to converse with Sarah will have divulged their birth date, and the names of any siblings. Please note 'birth date'. From this little piece of information she then works our how old you are, and there is no hiding from that because she will broadcast it to all within earshot, followed by how old you are going to be on your next birthday and which day of the week it is going to fall on. If you are interesting enough to her she will sort out your brothers and sisters birthdays as well. She takes leap years in her stride! all this from a girl who can't add 2 and 2 and believes all coins represent 0.01p!
But birthdays and Christmas occur on the same date every year, Easter does not, and to make matters worse the clock goes forward an hour in spring, neither of these things can she deal with easily. She definitely works on her own time, probably linked with her body clock. Although the watch she wears is essential to her, she rarely refers to it of you ask her the time, and she is usually within 5 minutes of being right, so not surprisingly, she gets a bit panicky when an hour disappears in the spring and it takes her longer than most to adjust. Easter jumping about in the calendar has always been difficult because when she was at school it had an effect on half term weeks, which were made all the more difficult with random inset days tagged on the the beginnings or ends of holidays. It was confusing for me, never mind Sarah!
Sarah spent almost 15 years in the education system one way or another, so it is not surprising she still thinks in those terms, (ooh, double meaning!) so she still expects to have a 6 week holiday in summer, and a couple of weeks at Easter, and the half term weeks, happily she gets a long Christmas break.
I am probably asking for trouble, but I think she may be helped by taking on the moon phases which she actually does relate to, being female and acquainted with the 28 day cycle, but this will take time and patience, we will see.
I digress, all I am saying is, with this bit of seasonal upset Sarah has not been the happiest bunny around this Easter, and I would go so far as to say that the last couple of weeks have not been easy, so the blog has been neglected. I shall be back in my stride soon, spurred on by the sight of my dear husband exiting the house with a length of copper pipe... He is building a greenhouse... why does he need copper pipe? This could be a worrying development....

Monday, 6 April 2009

Actions Speak Louder Than Words And The Camera Never Lies.

So, the G20 is all over and photographers seem to be the overall winners. Endless pictures of politicians, politicians wives, police, protesters and photographers, an awful lot of them. I've got nothing against photographers, I like to count one or two of them as friends and I've been known to take the odd photo myself, a quick glance at the bookshelf reminds me that over the years I seem to have acquired quite a few books on the subject. But last week all the images I saw on TV and the Internet of the events surrounding the G20 in London were dominated by the number of photographers present to record events for posterity. Which led me on to wondering if the event would have been different had fewer people been there to record what was happening? Would the RBS have been ventilated so thoroughly had there been fewer camera's homing in on the event? I wasn't there so I cannot in all honesty make a comment, but something about the voyeurism of it makes me a little uncomfortable.

The first protest march I attended was an awful long time ago, and seems down the years to have become a notorious one. Grovesner square 1968. If my memory serves, we were in Trafalgar Square, then moved on to the American embassy, and I remember a lot on sitting down in the road and singing and chanting. Ho Ho Ho Chi Min has been stuck in my mind ever since. I was 17 and incandescent with rage about the bomb and the Vietnam war. We were pushed around a bit, chased by policemen in silly helmets and truncheons and chased by policemen on very big horses. I could run quite fast if I wanted to in those days! But somehow, I never saw a picture of the events on 17th March 1968 until long after the event. I didn't own a TV, I didn't buy newspapers and more importantly I was probably more interested with the notion that I didn't have to stay in one place and the world was out there waiting to be seen, all the news I needed came out of the underground publications of the time, IT and OZ.

I've done my fair share of protesting and marching since, I never stayed at Greenham Common, but I was there and supported the women who needed to stay. But through all this I have no recollection of armies of photographers and camera men and women to the extent that they appear now.

All through the 70's I was too busy doing other things other things to worry about the rest of the world, but come the 80's things started to make me angry again, and a change in lifestyle meant it was possible to demonstrate once more. Lots of news coverage for Greenham mostly negative, and of course an amazing subject for photographers, there is loads of it and we've probably all seen it. The miner strike. Not involved personally but involved emotionally and that was covered handsomely by the media, and anyone who lives in an old NCB mining area will have no difficulty bring an image of 1984 to mind. Photographic images of that time adorn the walls of countless local museums and galleries. As an aside, there is a lady well into her eighties living near us who is to this day looking forward to "Dancing on Maggie's grave." Needles to say , we all hope she will make it.

I think what worries me is the images that are made of protests, demonstrations, marches or whatever name you put to an event, although authentic historical documents, don't tell the whole story by themselves and the place where you see that image adds its own agenda, glorifying or vilifying according to it's politics. Of course, if you seek out the images you have your own agenda, but what about the people who just see these images in passing, say on the TV news, the front page of the newspapers in the supermarket. these people will only get part of the picture, and inevitably the most dramatic part, leading to exaggerations and misunderstanding and definitely not the full story.

Anyway, all this comes about because I was reminded of my own glory days of protest and demonstration back 1968 and the fact that I could not remember seeing anyone taking pictures of any sort. It never really occurred to me until last year when people were looking back at '68 as a pivotal time in history that there were photographs and news footage of the events in and around Grovesner Square. Most of the stuff I saw was new to me, and I could not reconcile the memory of what I had experienced to the images I was seeing. Last week, following events at the G20, I had the same feeling that what I was being shown was not necessarily what was happening. A feeling that something had somehow got lost between the subject and the lens.
Actions speak louder than words and the camera never lies, but when you put the two together it can all become a little too subjective and then the truth can be skewed to suit the need.

On a positive note and disregarding truth and politics, there was a lot of very good camera work done last week, and I mean a lot! And what better subject for a photographer than a good old fashioned stand off between the power and the people. And I hope there will be people who attended last week, looking back in a few years time at photographs of the day and thinking "I'm glad I can say I was there!"

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Autism Awareness Day

It is unfortunate I suppose, that Autism Awareness day should fall in the middle of the G20 summit meetings. All eyes will be on the international issues and protests surrounding G20, not many people who don't already know about it will be 'Standing Up For Autism' today. And that is probably as it should be. In the grand scheme of things, protesting about the dire state of the global economy and ecology is definitely more important. Without some degree of global stability and hope of there being a future there is little point in trying to make people aware of yet another group of people who, however worthy of attention, seem to be managing to survive in relatively affluent parts of the world.

That is all I should say. I don't want to offend the people who work so hard to bring autism into the public awareness, I do not envy their task. I just find it somewhat ironic that we are asking people to be aware of autism and at the same time we are asking people to be aware of the bigger picture.