I’ve had the tune in my head this afternoon. I bought Dr Dre’s CD ‘2001’, as you did in 1999 (how quickly things change), in New York and played it all the time when I got home. I can’t stand the video, but then I can’t stand the video to another of my top ten hip hop/rap tunes, ‘California Love’, by Tupac (also with Dr Dre) either.
It’s all about the choons. Here are some pictures that will take care of the visuals, in place of the videos.
Sing along if you want.
This is the dog on the foreshore doing his thing.
If the tide is out I walk towards Kent where the cockle-pickers can sometimes be found working. There was only one out there the other day. Someone else came and stood on the beach and bawled at him, or her, in a different language. Maybe it was something about the tide, or tea time.
In the background of the shot (same time, different colours from Photo I yesterday) you can just make out the industry on the Isle of Grain in Kent and if you look hard enough there is also a ship. I like walking on the shore, with its mix of sand, mud and stones, but it makes me think of the Chinese cocklers who died in Morecambe Bay some years back. The Thames Estuary is not nearly as treacherous, Morecambe Bay has quicksand, but the tide still comes in quick enough to make me cautious and there are reports of people being rescued from the mud in the local paper every year.
One year an Orthodox Jewish woman had to be rescued from her deckchair by the Fire Brigade as the tide came in quicker than expected. She was up near the prom with full view of the incoming water, further out on this strange flatness it would be easy to get caught out.
I constantly rue the fact that I have a Blackberry with a rubbish camera and my actual camera is a basic digital model. I should carry the camera with me at all times, but of course I don’t. Yesterday the Blackberry was out of battery when I was out with the dog, so I tried a few shots with the work phone – an old-fashioned Nokia with a 3.2 mp camera.
I was quite pleased with the results. It coped better than the Blackberry would have, even with a fully-charged battery and its 5 mp camera. I am still under contract on the Blackberry but I would love to be rid of it (especially as it has developed some idiosyncratic keyboard habits) and get a Nokia N8 or iPhone.
Anyway, whatever the kit, taking photos takes me out of myself in the same way writing does, except better, because it cuts out all the cognitive crap in between you and your relationship to what you see. It is like a shortcut in; an in to the essence of all things, which is totally absorbing.
Yesterday the sun was going down. The wind was freezing. The dog was charging around at 25 mph, splattering me with mud. I needed a hat, gloves, coats and wellies: I had none of them. My internal dialogue chuntered on, as it does in its old womanish way, about aggravating my dodgy bronchials, but once the phone was out and I was taking picures (blind, more-or-less directly into the sun), none of that mattered. In a short time the range of colours out on the foreshore were amazing.
Here’s one I like, although it’s a bit dark. Another, perhaps of the dog, tomorrow.
The first time I came to Southend it was for a walk about thirteen years ago with my dogs and my friend Brenda. Brenda is reponsible for nearly all of how my whole life turned out from 28 onwards. She and I rode together on the Isle of Dogs, she introduced me to the coke fiend and then, not to be deterred by that abject matchmaking failure, to Mick with whom I have two children. Brenda also brokered (through her sister) the rescue of my current dog, Rudi, and she took in my beloved dog, Billy, who took great and enduring exception to my having children. Naturally, to return the favour I re-homed her old car which I bought to save her from tyre-kickers. She even took delivery of a horse called Blue last year – spooky.
Despite appearances to the contrary it is I who was in charge of my own destiny, because I placed the advert in LOOT for a new flatmate, which she answered and that was how we met. That day we didn’t like Southend, so we walked along the beach to Westcliff and then caught the train back to London, pretty much not planning to return EVER.
I hardly expected to move here, but I did and managed it under my own steam. I masterminded the whole thing with only a few tick boxes. Period housing at affordable prices (unlike Harlow which is cheap and god-forsaken architecturally), good schools and, crucially, not on a flood plain. We moved. Brenda went somewhere more posh earlier (but also in Essex) and I walk the Irish dog here, and she walks my old one, plus a poodle and two labs (but that’s another story) about 20 miles away.
So, out of season, Rudi and I visit the same beach although usually further along, away from the road, at Chalkwell. Southend might not seem much of a beach aesthetically, but I really love the way it always looks different. I used to prefer the tide in, but now I prefer the everchanging light on the mud and the patterns that the water has made on its retreat. We might have a load of heavy industry to look over at on the Kent side, or at Corytown towards London, but they have their own strange appeal. On some still, misty days you cannot see them at all.
I am no expert with a camera. I am on the 3rd model in as many years because of ill-treatment. I merely point, press and try to keep the camera straight. Sometimes I can’t even manage that.
I took this picture for a few reasons. The boat (that you can hardly see) is a cause of fascination locally, it is some kind of houseboat, is not permanently occupied and was vandalised recently. The duplicate signage makes me smile – I need to check if the words are identical, they look it. The seaweed on the boards is ridiculously green and very slippery – neither of which facets the photo captures fully. One of the first times Rudi saw it he tried charging down it at full gallop and came a green and slimy cropper.
When I looked at the shot at home on the computer it put me in mind of the roads I fear driving down in the dark.