out in the midday sun

“and from the ends of the earth, across the thousands of miles of land and sea, kindly, well-meaning speakers tried to voice their fellow-feeling, and indeed did so, but at the same time proved the utter incapacity of every man truly to share in suffering that he cannot see…”

– Albert Camus, The Plague


Today, I will let my photos tell my story.

Except, one more thing?

Some words, from a colleague with whom I am fortunate to be working (in a virtual sense), who observed (more or less) “our planet has been suffering a fever for some time, now that we too have a fever, perhaps we will change”.

He nailed it.

Coronavirus is presenting us with not only what is perceived (by some) as an existential threat but perhaps also the reverse. Pollution across the world is down, perhaps because people, people like me, are grounded.

So, are we up for a change? I am, even if only in a small way. Every little helps, no?

And, perhaps as my photos suggest, we may be down, but our planet, nature is surely not.

Stay safe everyone.

…and a p.s. as expected, the hotel has (this morning Friday, 27 March) informed we remaining sixteen guests that they are considering closing next Wednesday. So my nomadic lifestyle continues, another twist and turn, watch this space.


*all images hand crafted with iPhone 11 Pro 4.25mm f/1.8 lens, unedited*

out in the midday sun

the march is over
the great destroyer
she passes through you like a knife

– lyrics from silver rider by low


After months of not writing, anything, at all, here on my blog, here I am. Again.

My excuse, well one of them anyway, for my prolonged absence has been my wrestling (procrastination) with a theme for my writing. I have a story to tell, a good one I think. Well, actually, I know it is. My challenge has been this. How much of the story that I have do I want to tell? Will there be consequences from the telling of that tale, intended or otherwise? Am I prepared to open my soul in the way that I feel I would like to? Will anyone care one way or another?

I will, eventually, I think hope, write more here in the coming days about my response to the current situation.

You know, that one.

Part of my response is the fact that I am writing, and will publish, these words. I don’t plan to edit my writing much, an experiment perhaps in letting the words show me the way. Maybe I will come to regret that, maybe not, we will see what we will see, no?

Over the last month I decided to start recording my thoughts, feelings and experiences in a journal on my MacBook Pro. Using Day One if you are interested in such things. And wow, did I pick an interesting time to do that.

I am writing this using my absolute favourite app for writing iA Writer. White screen. Plain text. Only current sentence highlighted. Total. Focus.

Writing it looking through the net curtains shading the window of my hotel room in Accra. The hotel in which I am now the only guest and which will probably close tomorrow. My heart goes out to all the staff here who have treated with so much consideration and kindness throughout my stay.

An empty road outside, birds alone continuing their business as usual. No flight cancellations for them. Unlike at Kotoka airport, just a short taxi ride away, from which all international flights in and out will be suspended from tonight. The majestic Sahara, so beguiling from my airline seat on so many flights, now a very hard barrier between me and home.

An adventure awaits.

About which I will write here.

At least that is the plan.

At the moment.

A random thought. About onions.

In recent months, when mulling over how to tell my tale, I concluded that I would write about onions. How, when an onion is peeled, the core becomes exposed gradually, fresh and juicy the inside opens up to us as layers of protection are removed, one by one. We are all going to experience that very soon as our world changes and we find ourselves focused on what lies beneath, as the layers are stripped off, painfully almost certainly.

We will discover who we are as we work together to face what lies ahead of us.

Much depends now on how each and every one of us rises to the challenge we face.

Our planet has a message, are we listening?

Will be kind and considerate?

Will we look after each other?

out in the midday sun | redux

‘When God decides to look the other way
And a clown takes the throne
We must find a way’

– lyrics to ‘dig down’ muse

After a (very) long absence from these pages, and a very long time since I posted an out in the midday sun piece, I feel the time to sharpen my pencil keyboard is nigh. As indeed time seems, nigh, right now. In an apocalyptic sense. Or, just maybe I’ve rediscovered my muse 😉

For a variety of reasons, about which I may (or may not) write here in subsequent posts, it looks like I will be sitting out the current crisis in Accra, Ghana.

I’ll be back.

Soon.

I hope.

#coronaviruswewillresistyou

on reading

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.
― Oscar Wilde

One of the advantages of being a frequent flyer is that it gives you precious time to concentrate on reading. And yes, I like to ignore the fact that many flights now offer the ‘benefit’ of in flight wifi. I prefer (vastly) the benefit of in flight disconnection from the world of work. It is (or was) one of the last few bastions of serenity and a place to hide from all those ‘whatsapp’ groups people seem to think aid communication at work. Don’t even get me started on that last one, it could become a post in itself and lead to unintended consequences.

Reading is one of the most precious gifts that we can give our children.

I remember when I was around about six years old that one of my favourite places of refuge was the ‘box room’ in my grandmother’s house in Rawtenstall. Actually, I think the box room had in fact been a place that my father was stored in as opposed to boxes but, no matter, it was a special place for me. It contained what at that age I felt to be an impressive library of books that opened up a whole world outside the (then) grim confines of Rawtenstall. The town’s buildings in those days were blackened with soot and the river that flowed behind my school stank of goodness knows what, concerns about pollution seemed a world away, and in many ways they were. The town at that stage was suffering from post industrial decline and its place in the world – defined by the dark satanic mills that once produced shoes and cotton for the Empire – was doubtful. And that is why those books were so important to me.

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On Travail

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

St. Augustine


The clue to this post is in the title, which is a clumsy attempt to wrap multiple concepts into a single pithy phrase.

Among my resolutions this year were to write and shoot more. Rather dismally I have failed to respond well to my own resolutions. This does of course make choosing next year’s resolutions so much easier, as I plan to have another go.

However, I am happy to report that I have read a lot this year. And I will write about that also. In due course, the fullness of time, and so on.

I have also travelled a great deal. A very great deal. And, that is also something I intend to write about on the same terms as above.

I am not comfortable with my personal carbon footprint this year. So, trees will need to be planted. Probably enough to stock a decent sized hillside.

What prompted this post was my need to share (other than on my FB page) my journey home.

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castronuño

Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse
– Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

It’s been a while since I posted here, more than four months to be (almost) precise.

A lot has happened in that time.

It’s time to return, to re-engage.

So, rather than write pages and pages explaining my absence, I thought I would share some photos from a walk by the river, yesterday, in Castronuño.

A few small slices of life, under the Spanish sun.

Presented, more or less in the order that they were shot.

Be seeing you.

As you sow, so shall you reap

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out in the midday sun | 5

This is the latest in what was intended to be a weekly collection of essays themed as ‘out in the midday sun‘, which instead, has become a place for me (in or out of the sun, midday or otherwise) to write at random, and increasingly infrequent, intervals, on whichever subject seems worthy of note at the time.

I have not posted as much here, or  perhaps more perplexing, not shot or published as many photographs as usual, for the better part of the last year. The principal reason (excuse) for that has been (hold the front page) the intervention of the real world. I have travelled (too) much on business, between Europe and Western Africa, although I have found time to write up some of my adventures on nigeriastreets. I’ve recently switched working countries from Nigeria to Ghana. I’m not done with Nigeria yet, and the seductive siren song of other adventures already calls. More (perhaps) about that in due course.

I’ve also been busy learning new stuff. 

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out in the midday sun | 4

To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer
― Ansel Adams

2016_07_20_26043

 

This post is about my passion for photography.

It is also about the process of learning. In a recent post in this (rather sporadic) series, I featured a photo which I believe was the first that I ever shot.  It was of a hovercraft, a futuristic vehicle that like others, including the Concorde, has disappeared into the history books.

That camera was a Kodak Instamatic 25. It was (almost) idiot proof (if not Andy proof). A cassette was inserted in the rear of the camera, a single click captured (most of) what could be seen through the offset viewfinder, the cassette was wound on by a large black plastic wheel and that was it. The cassette was then dropped off at the developers and then the waiting began.
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out in the midday sun | 3

You’re an expatriate. You’ve lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed with sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafes.
― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

2016_06_28_15994

Funny how Hemingway summed up the dreams and aspirations of a group of young teenage boys who set forth on a European adventure. Perfectly.

We didn’t get that drunk, mostly sticking to orange, exotic, Fanta in deliciously heavy brown glass bottles. Oh, and ok, the occasional beer. We were young, I was only thirteen. And being thirteen in the Summer of 1975 was a world away from being so in 2016.

Sex? Well we dreamed of it a lot, fantasised about every girl we had met, and were yet to meet. But sex, as in real, messy, sex. No.
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