December 21, 2016

8.45 am: Into town for a haircut and a micro-shop:

While the barber made his way around my head very ably, I could not, likewise, get my head around the name of the shop. It’s the possessive apostrophe that scuppers the sense. Don’t change it! It’s delightful. This was a very ‘manly’ context for hairdressing. It reminded me of the shops that my father took me to in Abertillery, when I was a child. One was owned by Jack Nadal, a refugee from the Spanish Civil War. (He reminded me of the actor Cesar Romero, who’d played the Joker in the original Batman TV series.) In between cuts, he’d exit the premises and look up and down the street, furtively. Jack was fearful, it was said, that Franco’s spies were coming to get him. The guys at ‘4Brother’s’ are from Kurdistan. It was like having having a haircut in a foreign country, but on your own doorstep. Wonderful!

9.45 am: On with the article. I’m, now, consciously working in second gear. The climbdown has begun. Christmas is a poignant period in which to lovingly recall and mourn again those whom time has borne away:

The photographs were taken, by me, sometime on Boxing Day in 1968, at my parents’ home in Abertillery, with a Kodak Instamatic 50 camera. From top left to bottom right: Joan Harvey (mother); Trevor Harvey (father); Elizabeth Rees (maternal grandmother); and Oliver Rees (maternal grandfather).

There’s a scene in Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner (1982) (beloved by digital photographers) where Decker (the Bladerunner) interrogates a hard copy photograph using a technology that is able to delve deeper and deeper into the image’s detail, but without any loss of resolution. It’s a wonderful conceit. ‘Enhance lower right. Stop. Centre. Stop. Move in. Stop. Track left. Stop. Track up. Stop’:

‘Centre left. Stop. Move in. Stop’:

I’m fascinated by things on the periphery of a photograph’s ostensible subject; objects, locations, and people of which and whom the photographer may not have been conscious when they opened and closed the shutter. I desire to enter the photograph in order to draw close, once again, to those whose aliveness is preserved within the print’s emulsion.  I desire to enter the photograph in order  to feel the mattness of the Russet apple; pick from the box of Mackintosh’s Good News chocolates, which my Gran offered me after I took that photograph; touch my mother’s cheek; run my hand through the tinsel on the Christmas tree; and remove a volume by Enid Blyton from the book cabinet. Photographs are, in this sense, portals through which one can travel back in time is a manner more palpable than that permitted by memory alone.

After lunch, I pressed forward with the article in the hope that, if I can keep up the pace, the first run-through of the whole piece might be completed by Christmas Eve. A selection of Laurie Speigel compositions played in the background. (Today is a day for music, of a particular type: minimal, repetitive, slowly developing, and non-assertive.) Mid-winter. Late afternoon, the temperature dropped:

6.30 pm: Practise session 1. 7.45 pm: Articulations continued until the end of the evening. The first run-through was completed ahead of time.

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