About Me

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A nineteen year old with a camera in rural Norfolk. http://rosajoy.com

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Cambridge, November, around six p.m

This city is beautiful at night. Beautiful enough to remind me that a part of me will always be found under a streetlight next to shadows. London gave it to me, but London is too unpredictable to unearth it yet. This place is quieter, more stately, more safe. The perfect setting to start uncovering bits of yourself. To walk through, alone, in the dark, and feel not afraid but unconfined - at last. Safe and free.

I find it difficult to write about because I cannot describe what was not said out loud but only experienced. Lights and shadows and sounds and spectres and sleeplessness. My two-beat rhythmic click. (Walking because I like to walk.) Especially in the city-dark, which is not dark at all but very alive.

It is like taking part in a dance, or maybe becoming a living cell in the city's anatomy. I'm not good enough to write it, and photographing wouldn't do because it is all about the flow. It was being outside myself for a little while, a part of something much bigger.

As I turned left, away from the road, the bells at King's began to call, for a reason no one I asked later could tell me. There was no one on the pavement despite the evidence of life all around me, and the orbs of bright light above my head moved my shadow faster than I walked.

I wanted to walk back from the station on my own for my own reasons, but it turned into a journey of new sounds and of shadows and of tungsten streets. Of feeling isolated but not alone. A good kind of single-ness. A strong and brave one. A contemplative and quiet one. An independent, individualist, life-affirming one. A photograph self-portrait in motion.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

How it feels to be free

(Blogposts are strange. I've got one I still need to post, that I've been thinking about since before results came out, but apart from that I haven't had anything to write for a month or so. But today, quietly, was different.)

It is quite easy to just let weekends slip by now. Yesterday I slept until two in the afternoon and didn't feel a bit guilty. I'm absolutely shattered (although, perhaps, don't realise it until I wake up) and doing anything vaguely strenuous on the day or two I get off every week seems as ridiculous as it sounds exhausting. Hence, most of my weekends since starting my job have been spent sleeping, watching neuron-destroying television, and browsing the photographs I wasn’t taking. Thinking about loneliness, too.

“Loneliness is a choice,” I got told once. You decide to be lonely. You help it stagnate inside you by sitting around and thinking too hard. Slowly it will leech its way into your system, and it will be almost impossible to shake out.

I miss my friends. A lot. I miss Lottie and Alice and Jonny and Naomi and Ben and Tom and Rachel and all of them. I miss how we were together. I miss the way we had it over summer and the spontaneous, seat-of-your-pants plans we made. I miss walking to Lottie’s when the weather was warm and drinking hot chocolate and sitting by the reservoir and sailing boats. There are things I want back, and I can’t have them.

“So what can you have? Right now. What’s never left?”

Photographs. Singing. Playing music and thinking and writing things down. And new things, like lunch hours spent in quite Costas (which can be lonely, if I let them be, or can be an escape, the way coffee shops look in old, grainy photographs) and bus journeys dreaming.

During a telephone call I got told, “Stop being stupid. Just, go and take a photograph.”
And in a letter, I got told, “keep taking those photos, because Flickr is staying the same for too long.” And other things, like getting back into me. And they were both right.

Today was lovely. I woke up at ten, which was long enough to sleep and have a strange but pleasant dream, and then get up and answer the emails which have piled up over the last five days, and eat pain au chocolat for breakfast and put on a pile of washing. I shrugged on a dress and ignored how badly my hair needed a wash and also the make up bag on my dresser, and bundled up inside a scarf and coat and gloves and thick woolly socks and walking boats. Picked up my tripod and changed Aspen’s batteries. Turned left down the lane.

I miss taking a photograph every week, too. Not fifty-two photographs (this is another blogpost) but being able to get out once every seven days and look at life through a lens. To have the space to do that. Now I have to make the space, and I forget its importance sometimes.

So today I took photographs. Not groundbreaking, not particularly thoughtful or conceptual (although I’ve done some thinking about them since they came home, which has been interesting.) But I was out for a little over two hours and I came home with frozen fingers and a smile. I spent the afternoon editing, and uploading to the internet, and then I found an old CD I haven’t heard since I was about thirteen. Nina Simone introduced me to jazz, and in the same way I have momentarily forgotten the important of photography, I had also (momentarily) forgotten her voice. This song brought back a lot of memories. Evenings sitting on the carpet in my old room and singing and singing and listening to her singing through my speakers. The time I took the CD into school and put it on over the sound system in the music room one lunchtime, and lying on a table and smiling. Not getting told off for it. Today I realised if I didn’t think too hard I could remember all the lyrics, too.

I should make more weekends like this one.

Well I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Oh I'd soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And I'd sing cos I'd know, not sing cos I'm low
I'd know how it feels to be free.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Naming Inanimate Objects

Her name is Aspen, I said, and Jonny looked at me as though I were mad.
What? he said.
Not, ‘the camera’. She has a name.
You named your camera?
Of course.
He said, Of course.

We argued for a little while, and then he told me that if I wrote a blogpost like this it would convince him to name his penknife. So here it is.


What’s in a name? Well, at its most basic, our names are surely given for ease of communication. A label for convenience. For registers and tax slips and birthday cards and book covers. To yell across the street or write on an envelope. Charlie from down the road? Oh, now I know who you’re talking about…

But something like my camera, an inanimate object, must not then be in need of a name. My camera has no human identity, no need for a title by which it can be identified, other than 'Rosa’s camera'. So what else is there, in a name, which means she is called Aspen?

Names are not simply labels. A name defines us not simply as a singular entity but as an individual. A name makes us unique and special and different from everybody else. It gives us a sense of importance and self-worth. But my camera does not need this either; it has no consciousness which needs reassuring.

In that case, try this: why do we name pets? Pets have no concept of the self-importance given by possessing a name. We name them, for the practical use of training them to respond to 'Poppy' or 'Rover' or 'Tequila-mint-humbug-pie' (not kidding on that last one. We had one very clever hamster.) But also, emotionally, to personify them. To humanise them. To name a pet is to show it affection, as if to say: you are more important to me than every other cat out there. Therefore, I will not call you simply 'cat'.

Bingo. Names, as well as all the other ideas they possess, guarantee our affection towards the named. The affection may be to a new baby, or to a new goldfish. Naming the former is more for a practical use than a particularly emotional one, but there is little practical use to naming a goldfish. Is it not, then, purely an emotional exercise on your part?

Naming not only guarantees affection, but guarantees affection through personification. There’s an interesting question here on why we feel the need to make goldfish – and, following the same thread, cameras – more human. (I’m fairly sure there’s a lot I could read on the human psyche and various Freudian theories, and I think the answer could be something along the lines of Homo sapiens believing that they, above all other species, reign supreme, and so bestowing human traits on things which are not human turns out to be affection mingled with pity.) But I digress. Ultimately, though, I think my camera has been named out of affection and my own want to humanise it.

Why did I feel affection towards it and want to humanise it in the first place, though? I suppose for a similar reason that Anne Frank named her diary 'Kitty'. Because through my camera I have found a way to express things outwardly which I have kept inwardly. It is the means by which I can create, and for that I feel indebted? It has travelled almost everywhere with me, has helped me capture moments which I am so glad to have recorded, and has seen me in times when I wanted no one else to see me (paradoxically, for a machine which produces and reproduces images for public distribution: there’s a blogpost I have still to write) Yet through all of that, it does not judge me. I’d like a friend, a human friend, like Aspen.

Because she has a name, she is officially more important than she was before she had a name. And if she is more important, then that which I create with her – to me – becomes more important. Or, at least, more justified. Oh yes: that which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet, but while my Flickr profile states I create with a Nikon D40, the truth is that I create with Aspen: and we create together. If I didn’t believe that, my photography would not be half what it is.

You don’t name a camera for its sake. Of course not, that would be ridiculous; Aspen has no brain or emotion or consciousness. You name it for your own sake – for the sake of what you are doing. You name it because without a name (and everything that comes with a name) for your instrument, that which you create with it becomes of less importance.

And if you’re wondering why ‘Aspen’ in particular, I’ll write another blogpost soon.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Silver, wrists, stars and charms

I didn't have a birthday party back in March, so on September 18th, six months later, my friends and I went into the city to celebrate my 18th-and-a-half unbirthday. We met in Costa (the way we always have, and for the last time before we go our separate uni ways) and then walked to a quaint little Italian. I chose the lasagne and finished with scrumptious chocolate cake, we talked about the summer and things to come, and then we went back to mine. Kim and Lottie had baked me birthday cupcakes, complete with candles and singing, and it was perfect. The most wonderful moment of the evening, though, was when, sitting around the table in Pinocchio's before dessert, they gave me a present.

A few months ago, I lost - and then found - a bracelet which meant a lot to me. Not so long ago it went missing again, and I'm fairly certain it is somewhere on the campus of my university-to-be, and I will almost certainly never find it. Upset as I've been, the peace I made when I first lost it at the beginning of summer has stayed with me and I have come to terms with no longer having it.

However, unbeknown to me, as a gift for my unbirthday Jonny suggested my friends club together and buy me something of a replacement. What they gave me tonight was a silver charm bracelet, picked out by Alice, with six tiny charms chosen by the eleven of them together. Each one, Alice said, represents a part of me. A book, a pair of ballet shoes, a camera, a pot of pens, a violin, and a star.

What they could not know was that this bracelet not only lets me carry a part of myself, as my last one did, but also a part of each of them; my friends who thought of the idea and chose each charm. Now that summer is over and we have started to go our separate ways I am realising again how extraordinarily lucky I am to have friends like these in my life. This summer has been wonderful, and such a large part of it has been down to them. I have never been given such a beautiful, perfect gift.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Week 52.52

The power of the sunrise and the power of a prayer released/On the edge of my country I wait for the sun, looking East
- Jackson Browne, 'Looking East'

52 weeks on Flickr

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Week 51.52

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces/Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here/Here comes the sun, here comes the sun/And I say it's all right
- The Beatles, 'Here Comes the Sun'

52 Weeks on Flickr

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Week 50.52

I used to talk/With honest conviction/Of how I predicted my world/I'm gonna leave it to stargazers/To tell me what your telescope says
- KT Tunstall, 'Through the Dark'

52 weeks on Flickr

Friday, 20 August 2010

Here Comes the Sun

It had been an awful forty-eight hours, but those of us who were “disappointed” were in the minority.
Jonny said to me, I’ve never seen someone on the verge of tears for so long, but in truth I just felt numb. There were tears at the top of my throat, but it was anger which exploded, when anything exploded.

The night before we had set up the tents in the darkness and the rain, and it had been good. To be productive and complete the task despite the conditions, to make our own shelter from the storm. When we were dry again – dry, but not warm – we sat in the bright glow of the torches and sang. Build Me Up Buttercup and Hey Mr Tambourine Man and Mrs Robinson. Before the torches went out, Jonny played Here Comes the Sun, but instead of optimism there was just the bitter taste of irony on my tongue.

The next day we put our bags under the table in Costa and said goodbye to Naomi for forty minutes or so. It was hot and the windows were bright. I ordered an iced tea with lemon. It had been an awful forty-eight hours and I had only escaped consciousness for three, and I was desperate to, but couldn’t, cry.

I didn’t want the conversation to remind me how, out of all our friends, it had been the two of us who failed to get into our first-choice universities. Jonny sat down next to me with an iced latte and we were silent. And then, over the sound system, ever so gently, came this song.

It has to be one of the most extraordinary moments of my life. Everything in that moment was going to be ok.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Going to the moon: Why A Level results don't matter

Over my right shoulder the water was pink and the Western sky was burning. When I looked over my left shoulder, though, deep indigo was leaching like watercolour into the clouds and, serene in her ascent, the Moon hung cradled in a cool glow.

It made me stop in the middle of the lane. We’ve been there, I thought, and then, I could go there.

Someone like me has decided to go to another planet. Someone like me has designed the rocket and made the parts and built the ship. Someone like me has travelled into the darkness and touched the surface of somewhere which is not Earth. Fucking hell.

But you don’t want to go to the Moon, a small voice told me. My neck hurt from looking up. I thought, You could, if you wanted to, but you’re not that type of person. You want to do other things. Things just as amazing. You want to find other moons.

Moons in literature. Moons in music. Moons in art and in words and in creating new things and in discovering something new and important. Moons which I can go to, just so long as I am here, and I am alive.

I kicked off my shoes. The tarmac was still warm and the small stones bit softly at the fleshy part of my sole. I am alive, I thought, and I am standing on a road which someone planned and built, which carries cars which have engines which let us travel all over the world. They were all created by someone like me and I am here.

Someone has named the birds I can see flitting over the fields. Someone has catagorised them so they can be studied and we can understand how they work. Someone has decided that would be a good thing to do, even though they are nothing like us. Someone like me has worked it out.

Someone has thought they are pretty, and taken a pencil or a brush or a piece of charcoal or a camera, and made a replica. Someone has created a way of communicating without sound, through specifically organised symbols which are called words, and someone has written about them. Someone like me.

Austen and Mozart have made new moons. The things they created are still being discovered, over and over, hundreds of years after they finished them. Chaucer and Shakespeare and the Bronte's and Dickens too. Beethoven and Handel. They all went to the Moon.

A car appeared, and I stepped onto the bank to let it pass. The land was so flat and the sky so vast that when I turned around with my eyes open it was hard to believe that I could not see everything there was to see. I am alive, I thought, and I can feel the wind on my face and the grass under my feet and – ouch – the stinging nettle between my toes. I laughed.

I am alive and there is so much to do and so much of it which I can do. I just need to live. And no letter on a piece of paper, or acceptance by a university, can ensure I do that nor prove I can’t. I can go to the Moon. That’s why A Level results don’t matter.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Week 49.52

Seal my heart and break my pride/I've nowhere to stand and now nowhere to hide/Align my heart, my body, my mind/To face what I've done and do my time
- Mumford and Sons, 'Dust Bowl Dance'

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Week 48.52

Gonna turn myself into the grass, and I'll grow/Take this space above my head, and live a little/I'm holding on for finding solid ground/Someday soon
- KT Tunstall, 'Someday Soon'

52 weeks on Flickr

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

A serendipitous discovery

Dear Jasmine

So, here’s the thing. The night before I was due to sit my A2 Politics exam I was in a bit of a state. It was almost midnight and I’d crash-revised all day (bad, bad, I know) but before I went to bed I flicked open the internet to find a piece of music on Youtube.

My browser opens a couple of tabs automatically, and one of them shows the referrals to my Flickr account. I noticed the address of a tumblr which caught I hadn’t seen before. “Anythinggeeky” sounded like a blog created with a self-knowing smile, by someone who would fit seamlessly into my circle of friends (the self-proclaimed “nerd herd”.)

It was late, like I said, and nine hours later I was going to be sitting at a desk in a silent room with an A2 exam in front of me, destined to fail. But I clicked.

You knocked me for six. Of finding my photographs you said, “I genuinely feel it’s serendipitous discoveries like that that get you through the harder moments” Mygosh, let me tell you that finding your post, especially at that moment, felt like a gift.

Thank you so much for what you said (especially as you had no intention of my ever finding it.) I had a bit of a sniffle and went to bed feeling a hundred per cent better. The photograph is called “Leap of Faith”, and when you tagged it “hope” you reminded me of the reason I created it in the first place. It was a mixture of the timing and your words, but it really did mean so much to me at that moment. Thank you.

Rosa xx

Monday, 2 August 2010


This is my two-hundredth post, so it deserves to be something special. I’m going to give you this instead.


She feels him take her hand. Her eyes are still on the stars as his fingers thread between hers, skin on skin, bone against bone. The space between their palms feels so hot it almost burns. He tugs her towards the earth.
“You can see them more easily if you lie down.”
They sit. The grass is dewy and cold as she lays her head down, feeling him do the same next to her. Their hands are still entwined.

She isn’t sure what to say, so she doesn’t say anything at all. They lie in silence, caught in their own thoughts, and then she feels her head empty. She can see nothing but the stars and the vast, black vacuum that encompasses them, and as it fills her she feels gravity unclench around her muscles. Slowly she becomes weightless. The air is cold and dry, her limbs limp, and the silence pierces her so deeply that she wonders whether she has been deafened by it.

A throb, subtle but insistent, pulls her back into existence. She blinks, twice, and without turning her head follows the sensation from her shoulder to her arm, to the inside of her hand. It is his pulse, beating inside his thumb, against her palm.

“Did you know that when you look at a star, you are looking back in time?”
She turns her head. “What?”
“It takes years for the light to travel from the star to the Earth,” he tells her, “What you are seeing is a star as it was back then. Some of them aren’t even there now.”
“What do you mean?”
“They’ve burnt themselves out. What you can see is their final explosion, reaching us years after it happened.”
He pauses, and then says, “Their final word. An epitaph of heat and light and flame.”

His attention has escaped gravity; his eyes are lost somewhere above them. She remembers him in the tree, and the urge to pull him back to her leaps up her throat.
“You told me you could prove that some myths are real ,” she says.
He chuckles, quietly, and then takes a breath. “Yeah.”
She waits while his eyes dart over the sky, and then he points. “Orpheus. He was torn limb from limb for worshipping Apollo, god of the Sun, instead of Dionysus. When he died, Apollo put him and his lyre in the constellations.”
He shows her the five stars, and then points to the right. “That’s Hercules, upside down with his club about to strike the dragon. And you know Prometheus?” He launches across her. “There’s Aquila, the constellation showing the eagle which fed on his liver every day, and just above that is Sagitta, the arrow Hercules shot it with.”
She can’t see them, so he points them out carefully and then lets his arm fall to his side.
“Are there more?” she asks, and he nods.
“Orion and Hydra and Pegasus and others. But some of them aren’t up there now. You have to wait for the world to turn before you can see them.”

They lie in silence some more. She finds the stars he’s shown her again and thinks about their stories. Prometheus gave men fire, even though Zeus told him not to. He was punished by being chained to a rock and an eagle was set to feed on his liver. Every night his liver would grow back, and in the morning the bird would return to eat it again.

To punish man, she remembers, Zeus gave them Pandora: the first woman. She scowls at the stars. When Pandora, curious, opened the box Zeus had tempted her with she let out all the evils of mankind. But Pandora wasn’t stupid. She closed the lid before Hope could escape. A weapon with which to fight all the others.

“One day all of this will burn up,” he says suddenly, and she turns her head. “The Sun will explode and take the Earth with it. But there will be stars, ones we can see now, that will still be burning when everything here is gone. They will outlive the human race by thousands of years.”
She doesn’t know how to answer him. In the silence that follows he turns his head to look at her, and there is fire in the white pricks of his eyes.
He smiles. “Don’t they, in precisely the same moment, make you feel at once entirely obsolete, and absolutely infinite?”

She thinks, if he fills her with any more of this feeling, her heart will become so hot that it will surely burn her up. It beats, scalding white against her ribs, as he holds her eyes in his with his pulse in her palm.

He says her name, and then stops.
“Yes?” It is a whisper.
“Do you remember, what I said to you when we met last? About what you have and what they can’t take away from you?”
She remembers.
He turns his head back to the sky and his features are lost in the shadows, so she turns back too.
“When a star dies, it doesn’t just disappear. The gas it explodes – the stardust – gets caught up in solar winds, and sometimes starts to form new stars.”
She is about to ask him how he knows so much, when he says, “Everything in the world comes from stars. Every element heavier than hydrogen was created in the heart of a star. The oxygen we’re breathing was created when a star exploded.”

She can feel it, not only in her lungs and at the back of her throat, but as it spins through her while she lies on the grass with his hand in hers. It sends sparks through her veins and threatens to ignite inside the cavity in her chest.

“Aida,” he murmurs, but she can’t pull herself away from the pinpricks under her eyelids. “You and I are made of stardust.”

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Week 47.52

I will go to the wild woods and stay there the rest of my days/Where no living mortal will suffer my soul to tease/And amongst the wild rowans with red berries all drooping o'er/I'll wait for my true love, yes I'll wait for my true love
- Cara Dillon, 'Jimmy Mó Mhíle Stór'

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Week 46.52

Now for you and me it may not be that hard to reach our dreams/But that magic feeling never seems to last/And while the future's there for anyone to change/Still you know it seems, it would be easier sometimes to have changed the past
- Jackson Browne, 'Fountain of Sorrow'

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Week 45.52

Promise me you'll never forget me, because if I thought you would I'd never leave
- A.A. Milne, 'The House and Pooh Corner'

52 weeks on Flickr

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Prints for Prevention

Malaria is the leading killer of children in Africa, killing one child every thirty seconds. The tragedy is that these deaths can be easily prevented with the protection of a single mosquito net.
The Nothing But Nets foundation provides long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to help prevent malaria in Africa. For every ten dollars donated, Nothing But Nets sends a net that can protect up to two adults for five years.

Throughout July and August, all proceeds from my print sales will be going directly to Nothing But Nets. Please, if you can, consider buying a print or two from the Prints for Prevention set on my Flickr account. My print order form can be found here. Thank you so much.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Stripping and Sanding

The truth is that my friends and I party hard.

We had a pretty fun time, actually. Kim's parents left her with the task of stripping their wallpaper while they're on holiday, so Lottie and I went round to help. Listened to Jackson Browne in Spanish and sang loudly to Glee an threw water at each other and made a mess.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The right dress

Not so very long ago, my friends threw me this, because I couldn't bring myself to my school's Leavers' Ball. Days later, Lottie turned to me and said, "My school's leavers' do is in a few weeks, and you're my plus one."

On Friday she came over with her boyfriend, and we picked out dresses and got creative with sellotape and chose jewellery. Kim did our hair, and then we arrived to a red carpet reception with the others already waiting.

We had our photographs taken in the sunshine, and I was teased for opting for orange juice instead of champagne. Dinner was soup followed by duck followed by cheesecake, but in truth we were more interested in the extraordinary magician and catching up with old friends. I met someone I have hardly seen since primary school, and we talked about old times and changes.

Eventually we regrouped downstairs on the dancefloor. Tom's moves were extraordinary, Jonny put his foot down and refused to budge from his chair, and Lottie found out that she is a master at Poker.

The clock struck twelve. I disappered outside to wait for our ride home, and it felt a little like stepping back into the real world. But Cinderalla this story was not. In fact, I felt more accepted here than anywhere else - more able to be who I am and accept who I am not. There were no transformations at midnight. Just me, a little tipsy, waiting in the warm air, in a silver dress.


Sunday, 11 July 2010

Week 44.52

I used to lay out in a field under the Milky Way/With everything that I was feeling that I could not say/Night in my eyes/Sky full of stars turning over me/Waiting for night to set me free
- Jackson Browne, 'Night in My Eyes'

52 weeks on Flickr

A note on Week 44

When I had finished and we were sitting on the end of the dock with our feet in the water, Jonny said, Do you normally come to a place like this with other people?
I said, I’ve been here with my sister before. And I think Kim and Lottie, maybe. When we came here in the winter the lake was iced over and-
No, he said, I don’t mean to this place. I mean to a place like this.

He meant a place where you go to be alone. A place like Sorrel Lane or a place like the lake in the woods or a place like the top of the hill.

I decided a while ago that these were places where I could be selfish. They are places where you can be you without anybody else, and you can say what you want to say and think what you want to think and take the photographs you want to take. They are places which are quiet and places which don’t mind being invaded. They are places which let you leave as the same person you were when you first entered them.

Like I said, there has been a lot of selfishness on my part this week. Taking my photograph at the reservoir was, therefore, a natural extension. Only it was a little different this week, because I let someone come with me.

Jonny didn’t stay, though. He graciously took my hints, and wandered off while I went through my weekly rituals. You see, in so many ways these place I have found, places like the reservoir, are physical depictions of the process that goes on in my head when I take my photograph every week.

Fifty-two photography is a wonderfully solitary activity. Just as these places allow you to be who you are and say what you want while you are in them, this particular photography allow you to bare your soul, momentarily, within a tiny frame. The instant someone else enters that place, and the instant someone else enters the moment in which you are taking that photograph, the experience is entirely changed. You are entirely changed.

If someone else is present when I am taking my fifty-two, the photograph I come back with is extraordinarily different to the one I would have had I been alone. I knew this when we were making the origami boats and Jonny asked if he could come with me. I said yes, but when we got to the dock I think he understood. He wandered, and I set the shot up on my own, battled with the wind and candles on my own, and took the photographs on my own. The experience, and therefore the photograph, was like any other week: solitary and, yes, selfish.

But there is a beautiful contradiction. When the taking of the photograph is done, and when it has been plucked and pruned in Photoshop, is it not uploaded to the internet for the world to see?

I still don’t really know how this makes sense. It’s some more thinking. It’s another blogpost. But it’s just one example of the contradictions that filled my fifty-two this week.

In the photograph itself, fire and water are juxtaposed with the candles and the lake. As well as this, she is asleep with her head on a pillow – yet she is also outside, and her feet are dirty. It is almost as though the dream she is having has manifested itself in her real, waking life. The contradiction, the wonderful irony, comes with the fact that she is unconscious, and therefore entirely unaware that the story she has made up in her head has become her reality.

The candles may represent stars, above her head, and the boats – well, they need a blogpost all of their own. There are six, though; a small fleet, and they are pointed in different directions.

The final contradiction of the evening was one which I didn’t recognise myself. When I had finished and we were sitting on the end of the dock with our feet in the water, and we had talked about enchanted places and their link with selfishness, I said, I like the selfish experience more than the sharing experience. It’s easier.
And Jonny said, No, you can have both at the same time. Because I’m sitting here with my thoughts and I can’t tell what you’re thinking, and you’re sitting there with your thoughts and you can’t tell what I’m thinking. So, I can have my selfish experience, while sharing all of this with you.

It is possible to be simultaneously selfish and sharing. It is possible, despite the apparent contradiction, to be at once sitting next to somebody, and simultaneously in an entirely different place altogether.


ps, In the picture, one question remains. Her face is hidden from the camera. Are her eyes closed; is she really asleep? And if not, what kind of contradiction does that throw upon the entire photograph?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Week 43.52

Come gather 'round people, wherever you roam/And admit that the waters around you have grown/And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone/If your time to you is worth saving/Then you'd better start swimming, or you'll sink like a stone/For the times, they are a-changing.
- Bob Dylan, 'The Times Are A-Changin'

52 weeks on Flickr

Friday, 2 July 2010

The times, they are a-changin' (I)

Come gather 'round people, wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth saving
Then you'd better start swimming, or you'll sink like a stone
For the times, they are a-changin'.




Some days you seem to wait for forever. I have waited for the day that exams end since they started six weeks ago. I have waited for the day I can leave College since the middle of March. I have waited for the day I can go to the beach and dance in a dress and swim in the sea since I was fifteen. On the last day of June, the day came.

I met Lottie and Tom and Jimmy and Yueyang at the station, and we caught the train to Cromer and met Kim at the other end. We walked down to the beach and there was mist just rolling in on the horizon. I took photographs and Alice and Naomi arrived and made sandcastles. The tide came in so we sat on the promenade and Rachel and Ben joined us.

Naomi and I fetched her car while the others fetched chips for tea. We wove our way around the one-way system and parked three times before deciding on a space. Jonny joined us with his guitar, and as the sun slipped away the boys (literally) dragged me into the sea.

It only felt cold when we came out, and Alice lent me one of her dresses because I’d used up all my dry clothes. We watched the lights come on and sang songs by Dylan and the Kooks, and then went back to Rachel’s to watch DVDs and sleep on sofas.

I’m not sure what it is that pulls me back to the beach, as regularly and as violently as the moon drags the tides back and forth across the sand. Perhaps it is its magnitude. Perhaps it is important sometimes, at points when it would be easy to assume that you are unstoppable, to remember that you are insignificant. To stand at the edge of the earth and see something which is so effortlessly greater than you are. Is it not, in some ways, a relief to know that you cannot compete with the roll of the waves? Your successes and failures, the outcome of the exam you sat not six hours previously, are only relative.

On the sand you are swallowed by your surroundings. The vast expanse of sea and sky, broken only by the cliff face and jagged groynes, seems endless. The wet sand creates a distorted mirror image to duplicate the vast landscape. But close your eyes, and you realise that the sea has invaded every one of your senses. There is salt on your lips and sand grains under your fingernails. The air smells sharp and bitter, and the sound of the waves will never stop. When I was talking to Alice on the shore, her voice was lost as soon as I took more than a few steps away. The wind snatched it and the waves engulfed it, churning our conversation under the swell of the surf. It ate us.

Perhaps also, though, it is important to be able to look out at the horizon with salt water around your calves, and to clench your fists. Here is an opportunity to remember that despite your insignificance, you are free. You are freer now than you have ever been. And, if you are free, imagine how powerful you are.

The tides are changing. The line where sea and sky meet is smudged by the mist, and between me and it there is nothing but waves in which I can swim. I am standing on the shore of what comes next, and following the waves towards the horizon.

The times, they are a-changin' (II)