2014 – OCTOBER

11th October 2014 – Down to my last roll of film. I have some that I used to test various cameras to send out, but it’s the rolls from the mju that I’m more interested in getting out first.

Go to Poundland to get some. It’s never there on the shelf. I’m told that I have to order it in. That’s fine with me; if I can get my film for £1.00 a roll, that’ll be great – granted, it’s only 24exp but I don’t mind that. Come payday I may get some in bulk. We’ll see. It’s 200 speed film and although winter is fast upon us, I don’t mind that too much either, in fact, it’s my favourite. I am now photographing for three years. One with film.

12th October 2014 – I feel like I need to start everything again, to take a couple of months of hard study and reading, observing and finding out how to best approach what is my on-going study of British life. I’m finding it pretty hard, but it’s not that that’s bugging me … it’s that pretty much everything I have taken so far in this adventure has been shit. It’s good knowing that I plan to do this for years, indefinitely even … I’m sure at least 50-100 good photographs can be plucked from the pot come the end.

Shouldn’t I be trying to make each frame count? God damn it, Marc. Purchased a couple more postcards and now have some Kodachrome for a day-visit to Butlins next Summer to take some shots

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Meanwhile, in South London …

I managed to get myself some film for £1.00 a roll from Poundland. It’s great. Rarely can I get film that cheap, not even on ebay at times for the expired rolls – even that stuff can tip over the £1.00 mark at times, so I’m happy to be able to get this, all sparkly, new and in-date.

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18th October 2014 – Have been thinking about getting some of the old negatives that I’ve collected over the years printed. At first I’d just send them off to the lab that I use to get my 35mm negs developed, and to get the negatives I have, which are old American medium format negatives, scanned and put on CD by the lab – however, I don’t think that I’d get the quality that I want, so I’ll use one of the specialist places here in London to get them done. I think I’ll get them done 12×12″ or as close to that as I can. Any larger than that then I’d imagine the costs may be a bit too much for my wallet.

Negs

I really want to produce something important, something that has a bit of clout and resonance, a body of work that means something, full of substance and grit and I keep coming up with ideas. It’s just a matter of getting round to putting it all into action. But away from my usual want to document life in Britain, I still want to capture something a little darker, edgy … a more dirty and raw body of work.

27th October 2014
Not feeling particularly amazed by what I have been producing, although to be fair, the majority of what I keep throwing up is pretty old stuff, some taken nearly a year ago – like the Night Shift piece Nocturnalis, most of which was scavenged from commute shots I had no place or home for …. bleh. Fuck.

I need to chill the fuck out a bit with all this.

NOVEMBER

Get sent to Brussels on some work training. 12 days. Not sure what to expect of the place, but I know all the big political decision-making goes on there. I’m called on the Monday morning, to be there on Monday evening. Panic-pack a suitcase, socks, and some rolls of film. I basically throw all my shit in and hope for the best.

First time on the Eurostar. I’ve always imagined it to be comfortable, and it is. The toilets are shit as is the food though. And I mean, really awful.

Eurostar Pizza

Get settled. Need coffee but for some reason, there seems to be a lack of coffee houses in Brussels. Over the period of the next eleven days, this becomes a big problem for me. Not really a loyal Starbucks kinda guy, I just go anywhere that’ll make me a nice cup of coffee when out and about in London. Out and about in Brussels is tough though. It’s mainly for the business traveler and the little area they do have, the older parts, is heavily tourist driven and packed with cheap looking restaurants. I find a supermarket and get what I can that’ll not go mouldy. I buy cheese that stinks my hotel room out and the little bread buns go off the following day. I resort to Coke, crisps and weird tasting Haribo sweets.

I’m working the night shifts; starting at 11pm and finishing at 7am. I wake around 3pm and head out for coffee. I have settled on a little corner cafe, a cheap place, no frills, which extends to the coffee, but it’ll do. It’s here I get what looks like coffee for the remainder of my visit.

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On my days off I decide to take myself to Bruge. I’d seen the film In Bruge and had always wanted to visit. I’d also seen the postcards of the place and it seemed quaint and peaceful. In the taxi from the station to the center of Bruge, it quickly dawned on me that that was not the case. I asked the cab driver why it was so busy, “….well, it’s a special Saints day today, and the children are off school, plus it’s hot and sunny and it’s also a Saturday.” Seems I picked the worst fucking day to visit.

I head into the local tourist information and ask where I can find a room since I had quickly decided to stay there for the night as I didn’t want to spend another night in my hotel room back inn Brussels with nothing to do, nothing to eat or drink and watching more tv in German and French with no English subtitles … there’s only so much guesswork that I am willing to put in of an afternoon of foreign television.

The woman at the counter tells me it’ll be hard to get a room this weekend and my best bet is to head out a little to find something cheaper. I do just that and settle on a shitty 2-star affair. It has a bed, a tv and a shower, so I’m fine with that.

Bruge Bruge

Get settled then head out. I look at my map that the lady at the counter was happy to let me have and decide not to head to the main square where all the crowds are; thick crowds, deep and heavy, walking at a snails pace kinda heavy crowds. Since seeing Venice, I’ve not been impressed whenever I’ve come into other old European Squares. I head out a bit, find a bridge and some water, take a shot, get bored and wander around some more, not really making a mental note of anything … a bit at a loss, but not in the tourist-loss way, just at a loss with myself. I stumble upon a cinema, an old place, with a few screens, hidden away from the tourist trail. I decide I’ll watch something. I have an entire cinema to myself. I’ve decided upon, ‘Boyhood.’ It’s okay, but fucking long. Three hours I think.

Cinema In Bruge - Had it all to myself

By the time I’m out the cinema, it’s dark and seems as though the whole world has heard that there’s a secret party on in Bruges – it’s loud, chaotic, music thumping and I can hear the English shouting expletives and it all sounds too familiar and embarrassing. I take myself back to my room, lie on the bed and watch some German show before slipping into a slumber. The next morning I wake at 7am and can still hear shouting and the heavy thump of music. It’s then that I decide I do not like Bruge, head down for my breakfast, check out, find a cab and head back to get a train to Brussels. I’ve wasted close to 100€

The remainder of my time in Brussels is spent on the night shift and every now and then I head out to take some shots with my phone, which I have never really done before going to Belgium – the rolls I packed have hardly been touched. I’ve made a few work-friends. I cannot wait to get back to London.

On my last day I head out to the corner cafe one more time. On my way I notice a man with a large cup of coffee with a big green circular logo on it – I stop him.

“Where the fuck did you get that!?” I ask.

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