January 2020 so far

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Greenwich Park, 19 January 2020

A start-of-the-year update, having failed to post at all since Christmas 2018, starting with things I can remember happening in 2019: freelance life turned into a permanent job (good so far!); I played some local gigs and got a bit better at the guitar (and probably a bit worse at photography through lack of practise); had a small amount of skin cancer removed (big thanks to Guy’s & St. Thomas’ for that); got more enthused about exercise than I ever imagined was likely, completing my 50th Parkrun on NYD, and hugely improving my front crawl technique thanks to Charlton Lido’s Swim Doctor lessons; bought more jazz records than was likely sensible, while just about stepping back from the brink of going Full Collector; went to a Play-off Final (highly recommended if 90 mins of absolutely unbearable tension is your thing); helped launch Flyover Media CIC; didn’t go to many gigs through a mixture of work commitments and a lack of much I wanted to see (the indie reformation/nostalgia scene has run its course, I think); and… various other things which I may or may not have recorded on Instagram as I went.

2020 has already been somewhat busier than I expected. A period of post-surgery recovery followed by the ubiquitous chest infection, plus lots of work meant I didn’t do much in November and January, so I’ve not really been in the mood for a socially-withdrawn abstemious January.

January so far:

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Out and about around the neighbourhood on 12th Night

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Monday = bin day (Just another mannequin Monday)

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Charlton Lido after nearly 3 month break following surgery and general winter ailments. Tremendous to be back there.

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Peter Brotzmann playing solo sax at Cafe OTO. This will be the year I go there more often…

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Hilly Fields, 8.50am on a Saturday morning. I’ve now done 30 Parkruns here, including my 50th on New Year’s Day; it’s a challenging course, particularly in January with a mixture of mud and frost underfoot, but I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting and friendly run in SE London. 

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Enjoyed the Ed Ruscha rooms at Tate Modern: the advantage of it being a non-paid for, non-blockbuster show is that hardly anyone was in there and you could actually see the pictures.

Other January things:

  • Enjoyed subbing a Kevin Nolan match report for the Charlton Champion
  • Took daughter and friend to a live show at the Planetarium in Greenwich. Really an underrated London experience: you get a nice lie down in a darkened room; clever astronomers tell you interesting things; and at the end they remind you how infinitesimally small we are in galactic terms – very useful perspective before the working week starts again.
  • Played a fun gig at the Pelton Arms: never done a show before where the dancing was interrupted by two women planking for an extended period. Dry January isn’t all that popular, really…
  • Saw Richard III at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse: excellent, engaging and pretty gruesome.

 

More to follow, I guess. Maybe I’ll not leave it a year to post again. Hope your Jan’s going ok.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

Seasonally-adjusted Angel of the North

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from the north-east of England. We’re doing the annual tour of the relatives for Christmas week. The end of 2018 has been busy with the adjustment to freelance life, a determined effort to get fitter, a few gigs, and a bit of an uptick in photographic activity (little of which I’ve got round to recording here). I hope to carry on 2019 in much the same way, if I can (though hopefully remembering to post here more often). May you have a peaceful end of 2018 and start of 2019.

Durham Cathedral on Christmas Eve

Making, selling, delivering: Charlton Champion postcards

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A few weeks I woke up with a bright idea: why not turn some of my local photos into a postcard and sell them to support The Charlton Champion, the community website that I help to run. We’ve been on a fundraising drive recently, setting up Patreon and Ko-fi accounts in order to generate some money to help pay the site’s running costs and – hopefully – to pay some contributors. The amounts we’re getting are not (yet) life-changing, but getting something in has provided a good boost and incentive to keep the site going.

It struck me that postcards might prove popular, and would also help raise awareness of the site as people sent them out, passed to friends, and so on.

I spent some time choosing pictures from my (not brilliantly ordered) archive and found four that showed different sides to Charlton. My InDesign skills won’t get me employed in a proper artworking department, but I managed to create a retro-tinged template, added the photos, then sent them off to print.

The first opportunity to sell them came at a pop-up shop that runs monthly in an old shop near my home. I’ve got to know the makers who sell from the shop over the last few months, and it was good to get their positive feedback on the postcards.

Next I put them up on the Charlton Champion’s social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and waited for the orders to come in. And, for a few hours, nothing happened – then a flurry of orders that saw the first print run sold out later that day. I sent another batch off to print and set off round the neighbourhood on my bike making deliveries. At the time of writing we’ve sold nearly 250.

I’m not sure what comes next (tea towels? stress balls?), and at postcard margins this enterprise is unlikely to make me rich, but it’s been an enormously gratifying project, that’s led to some nice conversations and connections.

Anyway, you can order them here. £1 each, discounts for buying in bulk….

And if you’ve ever accidentally become a local postcard entrepreneur then get in touch and let’s compare notes…

Street portraits – November 2018

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South Kensington street portrait - November 2018
I spent a fun day on Saturday taking part in a street portraiture workshop run by Niall McDiarmid at the V&A. These are the three best shots I got when he sent us out into the street in the afternoon. Now I just need to go and shoot a load more to build up my portraits portfolio.

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‘Champions 4 Change’ boxing academy, Charlton – October 2018

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[I thought I’d published this back in mid-October, but there it was, stuck in my Drafts folder. Since I wrote it I’ve been back to the club a few times and seem to have taken up over-40’s boxing classes as a regular weekly activity. To say that I was surprised to find myself browsing boxing gloves in Decathlon recently would be a considerable understatement]

I spent a really lovely Saturday morning photographing Champions 4 Change, a boxing club at St Thomas’ church in Charlton that does outreach sessions for underprivileged kids, particularly child carers. I was massively impressed with the way the whole thing was run. There was a really positive atmosphere, and the kids were just great; they start learning boxing techniques and doing a lot of fitness work, then the teenagers are put through GB boxing qualifications and go on to help teach the over-40 classes, amongst other things.

I wrote about in more detail for the Charlton Champion here, and put together an extended gallery of pictures here.


Champions 4 Change

Blackheath Fireworks – November 2018

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Blackheath fireworks are one of the highlights of the year in this corner of south-east London, with people streaming towards the heath from all the surrounding streets. This year’s display was particularly good, helped by drier, warmer weather than usual. Let’s hope it’s the last year in which Greenwich Council doesn’t pay its fair share of the costs. Thanks to Lewisham Council for organising it.

‘Extinction Rebellion’ protest, Parliament Square, London – October 31st 2018

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I called by Parliament Square on Wednesday having seen a few tweets about the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protest gathering there. The sun was out, and it seemed to be a good chance to take some more portraits. It was an interesting crowd – I got the impression that there was probably a significant link back to the Occupy movement, plus the established Green Party and anti-fracking groups. My main motivation was to get some more portrait practise in, but it was interesting to see what looks like the start of a new direct action movement. The speakers I saw included TV presenter Julia Bradbury, Clive Lewis MP, and the writer George Monbiot.

A bigger edit of my Extinction Rebellion pictures can be found here.

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Diversions: A Saturday afternoon at the non-league football

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The last weekend of October half-term threw up a rare Saturday without the usual day-time commitments, so I took the chance to go and photograph my local non-league team, mindful that with the clocks changing that night there wouldn’t be too many more opportuities to do so with 90 minutes of daylight for a while.

Bridon Ropes FC were formed in 1935 as the works team of the rope factory based in Charlton’s industrial riverside area. The ropeworks has long gone, but the team carries on, now playing home games at the Meridian Sports Club, in the corner between Charlton Park and the QE hospital. The match was pretty entertaining, in the way that football can sometimes contrive to make interest out of what was, on paper, a walkover – Bridon Ropes beat South Kilburn 8-0 to progress through to the next round of the London Senior Cup. And 8 goals for a fiver can never be bad. My friend and collaborator, Darryl Chamberlain, wrote up our trip in more detail for The Charlton Champion.

More photos below (I did find myself hankering after a proper long lens, though…)


Ali Baba’s Ice Cream Van, Giffin Square, Deptford – October 2018

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More of that Saturday afternoon autumn light in Deptford, this time in Giffin Square just off the High Street. Today’s started as grey and damp as can be, and it’s almost impossible to imagine that the light looked like that yesterday.

All photos shot on a Fujifilm XT20 with XF35mm f1.4 lens, in case you’re interested in that kind of thing.
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More of my Deptford pictures here.