He’s back…and this time the force is strong!

Mad Writer

Yup, that’s me. Though I prefer the humble pen to typewriter. The good news is that I am currently – finally – after kicking myself up the backside, had enough of the procrastinating that was plaguing me – and am now – as I write this – engaged…no, not with a woman – engaged – in writing my book. I have a love in my life and it is writing. Hence, why I have changed the format of this blog to render it more reader friendly. That is the good news. The bad news is that I may write less on this blog. But then, there will be stuff – that I cannot include in my novel, which I can stick in here!

So, let’s treat this blog as a…what can we call it, a drainage pipe – a overflow pipe – for all the stuff that is not quite good enough (or relevant), for my book. All the crap stuff will end up here, though I hasten to add, it may be ‘crap’ to me – but, it is still gold dust for you lot!

Greenwich Park in the Snow

(all images taken with the Sony RX1)

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Greenwich Park is perhaps one of the best spots in London for snow and winter photography. The vistas from the hill in the middle of the park are wide and stretch into the distance. The gardens and trees and the numerous slopes all create wonderful opportunities. These photographs remind me of the Pieter Bruegels famous ‘Hunters in the Snow’ painting:

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Hunters in the Snow

Like the photographs above the people appear as little black specks against a white background. There is something eerily strange and non-human like about these little specks playing in the snow. There is also something childish about it. An innocence. Perhaps it is the sense of large and looming over-powering nature – and us humans, powerless and in thrall of nature’s power (despite our pretentions). Nature in this case being the snow and cold and the winter.

The Sony RX1 did a fine job in the snow. I kept it in my jacket pocket but the only problem was keeping it dry. It’s not a water-proof camera and not really designed for extreme conditions. But it survived. The 25 megapixel full frame sensor allows ample cropping opportunities with the 35mm lens. it also has a handy panorama function. I spent the whole day in the park. I was dressed in layers. The high-altitude clothing I had brought for my South American adventure had come in handy. I had on a Merino wool underlayer. Another ice-breaker layer on top. A further fleece layer on top of that and a lightweight body-warmer on top of that followed by a long coat, scarf, gloves and winter hat. I was wearing three layers of socks and snow boots. I was comfortable and even broke a sweat when climbing the hills!

Why am I telling you all this? I don’t know. I suppose my point is that if you’re out and about in the cold taking photographs – do dress appropriately!

Modern Times

Modern times

I am perpetually fascinated by the juxtaposition of the modern and the old. Like two worlds colliding. She has a piece of magic in her hand: a mobile phone. Yet her beliefs are from another age. An age, where that mobile phone, would be considered divine magic. I’m intrigued by how these two worlds live together, side-by-side in the mind. It’s a form of compartmentalisation. I am always on the look out for images that convey that stark juxtaposition.

Searching for Sugar Man (a review)

This was my favourite movie/documentary from 2012. An awesome character study of a ‘genuine’ artist and also a riveting detective story.

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One of my favourite lines in the documentary is the bit where one of the interviewees sums it up pretty well: ‘Most of us are capable of greatness – and in some of our more introspective and quiet moments – we all fantasise, that one day – we will show the world who we are and what we are capable of. But the truth is that most of us will die without having achieved greatness. Most of us will die without letting the world and people know who we really are’.

And so begins a remarkable story of a remarkable event in which one man’s greatness is actualised. I’m not going to talk about the documentary in depth. I don’t want to give anything away. But I was in tears at the end of it (I’m serious). At the end of it I had a lump in my throat so large I had to go outside for some fresh air.

In short: the documentary is about a singer song writer in the 1970’s called Rodriguez. Rodriguez was from Detroit and he would frequent various dive bars and disreputable locales near the harbour where – with his back to the audience – he would strum his guitar and sing his songs. He was a wanderer, and most people thought he was a homeless guy. Nobody knew who he was or what he did. He was a mystery. He would appear from nowhere – from the city haze – and disappear just as mysteriously.

One evening, two well known music producers saw him play in one of the bars, and they were so mesmerised, so taken were they by his obvious songwriting and singing talent, that they signed him up on the spot. He was one of the best artists they had ever seen. He was going to be big. They knew it. Bigger than Bob Dylan. Bigger than the Stones. “He had it” they said – whatever “it’ was. “He had it”. So Rodriguez released two brilliant albums, with tunes and songwriting so exquisite, so haunting and powerful and true – and yet both albums were commercial flops. They did not sell and they disappeared into the abyss without making a single noise in the music world.

The record company couldn’t understand it. Here was a bonafide musical genius – yet the albums sold didly squat (nothing) and so Rodriguez was ‘let go’ by the record company and he returned back into the murk from whence he had surfaced. He isn’t heard of again in the music world…

But it is what happens 35 years later – that will leave you speechless…

Because there is a country where Rodriguez’s album do sell. They sell millions. That country is South Africa – and in South Africa Rodriguez is big. But because of Apartheid – and the restrictions imposed by the government and the world – the South Africans never get to learn who Rodriguez is, and Rodriguez never gets to learn how big he is in South Africa. And then according to the South African’s Rodriguez kills himself on stage by setting fire to himself. There is another story that he shoots himself in the head with a gun…

But then after the lifting of the sanctions some intrepid South African music fans and journalists begin a journey to uncover the truth about Rodriguez. Who was he? How did he die? And where did all the royalties from his South African album sales go?

This is a story of dreams being realised. It is the story of a man with unimpeachable integrity. A man who seems to be able to rise above the crap and the shit and the vulgarity. A modern day hero. A saint. A poster boy for humanity. Watch it! (five stars!) ***** The documentary will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Not to be missed.