Poppies and Wild Flowers were particularly precious in this year of lock down and in a year when my nearest Love became unwell. Cycling to to this space, I was able to share some of my views with her as I took in the beauty of the planting at Plock Court on the edge of Gloucesters public open space. As I post this, I hope for her continued recovery to allow her home to me and home to her own life and loves.
Friday, 5 June 2020
Friday, 1 May 2020
The 14th June 2013 saw the last screening of a 35mm film at the Savoy Theatre in Monmouth. The film chosen was, "The Look of Love"; the biopic of Paul Raymond, starring Steve Coogan.
Featuring a protagonist of a seedy excess, within the last celluloid projection in a cinema that has has its own architectural reminiscence for an era when smoking in public spaces and salacious carrying on in the back rows of a long gone Friday night freedom, seemed somehow appropriate. The Savoy has plush velour and faded yellow painted walls behind its paint brushed, chandelier and gilt framed foyer.
Monmouth itself has an anachronistic disregard for the contemporary. Englands' obsession with past; a love of what appears to epitomise a golden era of high society, an idolisation of pastoral bliss or a romanticisation of history, is at the heart of Monmouths' living history. As The Savoy screened its last 35mm film, I was under no illusion that Monmouth would shake off its love of the past. While we were challenged to rise judge the caricature of bygone Raymond, this cinema and its town, seemed to welcome our indulgence in the romance of history.
A curtain glow show, a red light world in Soho and the peep show windows of a projection room gave the visitors one last chance to glimpse into the chemical fix of transparent 35mm, rolling off the machine, a production over, an era consigned to obsolescence, as much as the top shelf title
and the final era of side show cheap thrills ends.
Friday, 27 March 2020
Water runs from a tap, the sound of its flow blends with the noise of the nearby stream that races towards Mells Park, where, when I was young, my friends and I would find lichen to make trees for our model railway and explore. Children of a freer time, growing up in the 1970s, we found our way into the park and explored the green, tree filled, limestone rock strewn valley with the fear that we might be found. Within this lush paradise, made for the descendants of 'Little Jack Horner', we found a perilous decent to a grotto in the gardens, down steps we named,'The Death Steps'.
At the crossroads, Somerset, proudly marks the metal trunk of its old way sign. Vobster sits in a valley, quiet except for the sounds of water and through traffic. I grew up in a very different village, Coleford, just up the hill but close enough to walk or cycle the steep hill and green lined road with friends and to visit my neighbour's cousins and grandparents. In my late teens, I worked in its redeveloped village pub.
Staying overnight in Vobster this year gave us chance to explore some of the things I remember of the village.
We stayed at the Vobster Inn's 'glamping' site, in a small and cosy shepherds hut, on the slope of the hill behind the pub. My return to the the pub, for the first time in 22 years brought back memories of working behind the bar in the late 1980's. Seeing the interior of a pub, that had been so busy then, was a strange experience. We talked to the current landlady about how the restaurant and bar had been so busy with meals and how people were attracted from many miles around to eat Chinese Style Steak or one of the many less exotic but, relatively for the era, good meals. The restaurant, on the night we ate was quiet, with four tables set. In the morning, before we left, I asked to look in the old restaurant space, a space that now lies empty most of the time and found, as in other places within the pub, ghosts of the buildings 1980's peak. The 'in and out' doors from the once busy kitchen, to the restaurant, are obstructed. On the window sill, a sailing boat rests, that I am sure was there when I worked in the building. The boat should have sailed away from this harbour many moons ago and left behind its port to those whose trade is 'glamping'.
Crossing the bridge in the morning from the pub, we came across one of the taps where I took summer drinks. As children, we enjoyed the novelty of a supply of fresh water, something we took for granted and ignored at home. A tap, foundry made almost bell shaped, iron against lime stone wall, still works today despite the limited need for what it brings.
The stream, heavy with so much rain, ran at its full height as we crossed the bridge and within its dark waters, the offspring of the fish we failed to catch, blindly fishing with bread on hooks as we perched on top of the wall, swim freely.
We managed to find our way, cautiously, into the edge of Mells Park and I was able to see, through the park's gate, the grotto in the distance.
Sunday, 8 March 2020
Nearly two years ago, I visited my old art teacher, Mr John Hodgson. He was 90 and I had heard, from his Daughter, that he was alive and well. I was delighted to have the chance to see him again, for the fist time since 1984. I met Mr Hodgson at his home in Farrington Gurney, along with his friend and my old English teacher, Mr Hill.
Mr Hodgson had made bread with yeast made from a rotting plum in his garden and we shared lunch in his garden, surrounded by his recovered object sculptures. I remember him making sculptures from old chair legs in his classroom. While we made art, he would arc weld the legs or play his banjo.
His banjo and other instruments are still with him and, for his 90th birthday, he had bought himself a motorbike although one or two of his former colleagues were trying to persuade him not to ride it.
Sipping his homemade gazpacho, Mr Hill and I enjoyed sharing memories of Writhlington School and our perspectives, on our time there, gave us chance to offer honest opinion on its legacy. Mr Hill would not want to teach again. Mr Hodgson would. I remember Mr Hodgson fascinating us with his mindful exploration of art and his peacefully lost demonstrations, contrasted by occasional frustrated imploring, "Be logical boy", as I searched for lost work in his cupboards.
Before I left, I took these photographs. I hope I see him again and perhaps I could watch him work once more.
Saturday, 22 February 2020
The many selves assemble in a dark room,
Lining up to be tested,
Testing a voice,
The many miracles of birth point fingers at him, her or somewhere, and bleat their fascinated insensitivity,
Feigning sincerely yours,
Gaining kudos through association,
Yet still, they are no one.
Lining up to be anonymously yours, t
Testing a silence,
I bring you lucidity.