Tuesday, January 29, 2008


There's been a bit in the papers recently about a French chap who managed to squirrel away 4.9 billion euros ($7bn; £3.7bn) when working at his bank. We Brits always like a good story at the expense of the French although, to be fair, our very own Nick Leeson did to forge the way in 1995. He only managed to lose £827 million ($1.4 billion) but he did get to demolish a bank that was already over 60 years old when the one above was built. The Societe Generale seems to be hanging on at the moment.

Back in the early 18th century, the banks didn't bother to hide their penchant for wasting your money. It was all for show. Give us your hard-earned cash, they'd plead, kneading their lily-white hands, and we'll squander it on some graceful shells and perhaps some fashionable twirly bits. Just whatever is in vogue with that wastrel, the Prince Regent. A shield with the city coat-of-arms would look nice; not cheap though, the very devil getting a group of Worcester Pearmains to look the business. Then knock it all up in a tasty bit of sandstone - none of your plebeian bricks for us. Voila! We get to work in a flash building and you get a lot less in dividend.

It was ever thus.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Three Windows x 2

Warmth, and I want to say 'coolth'. But I can't - no such word. We have warm and warmth but not cool and coolth. Am I missing something here? Is this not the right combination?

We mess around with these comparative phrases, even when we have a full set to play with. Why do photographers say that focus is either sharp or soft, instead of hard or soft or, if you prefer, sharp or blunt?

Now you may be wondering what the devil I'm off on now. And well you might. So. It's to do with the colour of the light. The light seen through the north windows of Deerhurst church is a cold blue, a cool, uninviting hue. The light projected by the sun through the south windows is warm and friendly, positing the idea of a picnic under the shade of an old chestnut, bees buzzing, larks larking and the gentle murmur of a languid brook.

As it happens it was blowing a gale outside and there was a nasty touch of wind chill around the ungloved fingers. I've thought of getting some fingerless mittens but I'm not really that pushed. Suffering for my art, and all that.

It's an old building, containing a lot of Anglo-Saxon work dating back to 800 AD or so. Like many churches in this part of Gloucestershire, ancestors of mine have been baptised, married and buried there. The past is strong in me in these places but I'm not subservient to it. Too many people dwell in the past, carrying 'baggage' with them throughout their lives which would have been better abandoned in 'left luggage'. The past is your slave, not your master.

As is the telephone.

Sheep in a Field

I thought I should push something out onto the WWW in an effort to defy the woeful lack of posting; a manifestation of Internet ennui.

I was playing around with black & white the other day and this is the result. I've always been a little bemused by monochrome landscapes despite the thrall in which they're held in some quarters. Still this one has, to me at any rate, some pleasing tonal qualities.

I photographed a lot of lambs last year, I've resolved (see, there are resolutions) not to do so again. It was the beginning of a worrying trend that could only lead to images of small cuddly puppies and, horror of horrors, babies.

Quick, nurse, fetch his medication. We can still save him.

Monday, January 07, 2008

More Paganism

A day of mixed weather, rain, high winds and now, glorious winter sunlight. Just idling away some time this morning waiting for my colleague, Dave, to arrive so that we can set off together for the three hour drive down to east London for a planning meeting at 5 o'clock. We should have fun in the rush hour both arriving and leaving - oh, deep joy!

I've started the resolution-free new year as I mean to go on; still sneaking lumps of mature Cheddar cheese from the fridge when Pixie's not looking, spending far too long in cafes drinking coffee and reading the paper and wandering into old churches looking for images.

So to start with, the little church at Rous Lench whose door yesterday was, for once, open to the casual passer-by. I posted a picture of the medieval foliate head on the south entrance in
August last year. Inside this was refined (if that's the right word) in Victorian times to produce these table-leg motifs.

They obviously like their pagan iconography up in the Lench Hills.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Pixie's birthday today so I'm posting a few images I've managed to capture during the past year. She's an elusive subject so every one's a bonus.

The Dedicated Shopper - Totnes, Devon

Reliving Her Childhood - Burlington, Vermont

The "What are you doing now?" look - Sandwich, Massachusetts

Game for a laugh, balance optional - Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year

Happy New Year

Right, that's got that out of the way; no resolutions - there lies folly and delusion.

Some observations, which I may have dwelt upon in the past but for which I do not apologise.

Why do some men, often those of advancing years, wear a hat while driving a saloon car? Do they have some deep-rooted fear of suddenly losing the roof?

Why would anyone want to pay to wear clothes which proclaim the manufacturer's name on the outside, rather than discreetly hidden on a label inside?

Assuming (and this may be a big assumption) that you don't personalise your stove/vacuum cleaner/telephone/dvd player/tooth brush, why spend a fortune on giving your car a personal licence-plate that somehow reflects your name/job/sexual orientation/whatever?

Is life in Gloucestershire so dull and uninspiring that the local paper feels the need to publish a 16-page Nativity Play supplement? (Probably would be less grumpy about this if I had grand-children!)

As a humanist I'm obviously treading on dodgy ground posting supposedly Christian images but then my principles are fairly elastic. As far as I'm concerned you can believe what you like as long as you keep it to yourself. Not a position as yet embraced by those controlling organised religion but we can live in hope.