THE END OF THE PIER SHOW
I grew up on the South Coast of England.
Born in the mid-fifties to a Navy family just outside Portsmouth. As a family we, like many service families of that time, moved often. My father was stationed in Pompey, Cornwall, Scotland and Devon. Moving was the norm.
When my father left the Navy to become a vicar life settled down a bit and we moved to Shoreham-by-sea in Sussex. I went to school in Brighton, then Hove, and to Art school in Worthing.
Growing up, the Great British pier played an important part in my life. From the age of twelve, I was usually to be found fishing from one of the ‘Harbour Arms’ in Shoreham, and a day out with my parents usually involved me badgering them to visit one of the piers local to us. Worthing Pier, the West Pier & the Palace Pier in Brighton, Eastbourne Pier and later, when my parents moved there, Hastings Pier.
I don’t think I realised it at the time but my love for piers was almost certainly where the first seeds of my rebellious and bloody minded nature came from.
My parents disaproved. They were considered slightly ‘louche’ places. There were girls in bikinis. Lads with their shirts off. Young couples kissing in public and very occasionally signs of (whisper it) public drunkeness as Grandad, having had a pint too many at lunchtime, could be seen tottering along the boards in the afternoon singing, much to the embarrasment of his family ‘There’s an old mill by the stream Nelly DEEEEEEEEEEEEAN’…
But the best thing for me (and the worst thing for my parents) were the slot machines. ‘It’s gambling you know, and the Bible doesn’t approve of gambling’. Yeah’ I know, but pleeeeease let me have a few pennies!
My Mum always gave in. My Dad was less easy.
And now, of the piers I’ve mentioned, the five piers of my childhood, there are only two left. Brighton’s beautiful West Pier closed down in the 70’s and was ravaged by fires in the early 00’s. In 2010 Hastings Pier was all but destroyed by a fire (which many locals still believe to have been a insurance scam), and now, beautiful, sedate Eastbourne’s pier has suffered the same fate.
I know that in the worldwide scheme of things it’s not much…but these piers are a part of my childhood. I did a lot of growing up on them. I had my first kiss on one of them. I saw David Bowie, The Who and the Small Faces on them.
They are just SO quitessentially English. They are obviously a ridiculous concept…I mean ‘lets build a HUGE iron and wood structure, in the salty sea, in a country where the water is almost always bloody freezing and where summers are often non-existant’…yet for everyone English they are part of our DNA and I love them.
The West Pier is now beyond saving, but hopefully, one day Eastbourne & Hastings Piers will be rebuilt and restored to former glory.
I doubt if I’ll ever see David Bowie playing on one again though…
The pictures, by the way, were some I took for an article about iPhoneography for Black + White Photography Magazine’ 18 months ago.
THE VILLAGE KIDS
Are a resourceful lot.
Most days there will be a knock on the door or a cry from the street and it will be one of them.
They never come empty handed, be it a posy of wild flowers or, like today, something a bit more interesting.
This is Mitko, who arrived with his sister this morning clutching a big bag of lime blossom (Lipa in Bulgarian). It is commonly drunk in winter as a tisane and, drying out as it is in our back garden on sheets of newspaper, it smells quite wonderful…
THE VILLAGE KIDS - Cont’d…
This is Adelina, Mitko’s sister and the brains behind the whole operation. She drives a hard bargain and will probably grow up to be a sucssesful, hard nosed businesswoman…
THE VILLAGE KIDS - Cont’d…
And this is Ivan, the naughty kid. He can be a right pain sometimes, but I’m kind of fond of him.
Especially when he turns up with a kilo and a half of amazing cepes/porcini like these…
CHANTERELLES & A NEW CAMERA
My dinner last night. Made into a delicious omelette with wonderful yellow eggs from my neighbour, Slavka.
Everything you see in the picture, half a kilo of chanterelles, parsley and sweet, fresh garlic was bought in the local market and cost a grand total of 4.30 Leva (£1.75…$2.95…€2.20). The chanterelles alone would cost a king’s ransome in central London. I, however, am not complaining, and am loving Bulgaria just a little bit more every day.
Apropos of nothing…this is the first real picture taken with my new camera, the quite wonderful Fuji X-Pro 1. I’m really enjoying it and think it’s going to change the way I shoot. Watch this space…
Well, I’d only popped in to the shoe repairers in Gorna Oryaxovitsa to get the beloved partners heel repaired, but the pictures on their wall kind of covered every base. Hitler, Churchill, Lenin, Stalin, Gaddafi, Mao Tse Tung, Vasil Levski and pretty much every facet of Bulgarian political parties, both past and present…
Sadly, I only had my phone with me but they were extremely friendly so I suspect a visit with a proper camera might be in order.
Probably best not to discuss politics though…
POTTERING ABOUT IN THE SHED
Is what today’s been like, in a photographic kind of a way.
A clear up in the basement of our house in Bulgaria had unearthed all manner of dusty, rusty treasures.
It’s been raining hard for days. The ground is sodden. The cellar is flooding and it’s a tad dis-spiriting. I needed to take some pictures to cheer myself up and these are they. Not sure if it’s worked as other peoples junk is always a bit poignant, but it’s always nice to have a bit of a potter isn’t it?
POTTERING ABOUT IN THE SHED #2
I like this picture. The only problem is that all day I have been singing ‘Green Teapot’ to the tune of ‘Green Earrings’ by the mighty Steely Dan…and it’s stuck, and won’t go away…
POTTERING ABOUT IN THE SHED #3
And this could once have been the makings of an interesting Balkan cocktail. Cognac and raspberry syrup, sipped contentedly in the flickering gloom of an oil lamp as the warm summer rain falls…
EGG BASKET #1
I’m in the middle of a radical shake-up and major overhaul of my websites at the moment.
This is obviously NOT making me tetchy, short tempered, grumpy or difficult to live with. Not at all. NOT EVEN A LITTLE TINY BIT!
Today I’m dealing with one of my favourite genres of photography, Still Life.
So here, from the vaults, are three still, small moments of calm…