Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
War & Ice…
As an 11 year old I was far too busy watching important cartoons on TV to listen to the ramblings of an old man…. my Granddad. To this day I am not sure why I didn’t listen, maybe I thought war stories would be as dull as I found war films as an 11 year old, maybe an exciting and plot relevant scene was ensuing on some awful Australian soap opera… what-ever the reason, I didn’t listen and to this day, long after the death of my Granddad, I have regretted that decision.
I have regretted that decision because those ramblings were not an older generations diatribe on the youth of today, or the state of modern Britain… those ramblings were stories about being on a destroyer in Iceland during the 2nd World War, travelling in stormy seas at -20, when ice had to be knocked off the deck to prevent the ship capsizing by newly trained, young and naïve sailors, who could only carry out the job for 20 minutes at a time, or risk freezing to death.
Those ramblings were stories of depth charging shoals of fish after having mistaken the dark shadow on the radar for an enemy submarine. They were about leaving a young family behind, to travel along the artic circle from Iceland to Russia protecting supply ships. The stories were about travelling to Egypt and abhorring the culture and climate. Borrowing 50 pence from a fellow recruit, but being too ill from food poisoning to travel on the return ship and missing the opportunity to ever repay the debt.
As a child, I missed out on a part of my Granddad’s life and on a part of history. I didn’t get to ask my Granddad how it felt to be a part of the war, what it was like to wave goodbye to a wife and young son, possibly for the last time, to travel to foreign climes, when travelling was far less common place than today.
I made the photo movie “War & Ice” as a tribute to my Granddad and to atone for not listening to his war stories…
Saturday, July 3, 2010
My friend Magda went to Stonehenge, for the summer solstice, wanting to get “some good energy”. Driving back from Devon last weekend I decided to avoid my usual speedy homeward route of the M4, and see some of England… Pootling along the A303 I came across the sign for Stonehenge and having shamefully never visited and desperately in need of some of Magda’s “good energy”, I decided to stop at the English heritage site.
I have heard many people comment, complain even, that they couldn’t believe the Henge was so close to a road; however what I didn’t appreciate was how close it was to not 1 but 2 roads… and furthermore, how close the surrounding fence, reminiscent of the 1983 Greenham Common images, was to the spiritual site. I found it very difficult to walk around the surprisingly smaller than expected stone circle from a by gone era, with hapless tourists who either couldn’t afford or didn’t want to pay the £6.90 to get beyond the barrier, clutching at the woven blockade to see the site. What must their friends and families think when they review the photos of them stood smiling the wrong side of a wire woven fence with the revered historical site a mere few feet away? What an advert for England…
Instantly appreciating that my spiritual quest was in tatters, I route marched the roped off route around the stones, avoiding tourists attempting to take depth deceptive photos of their friends and family members holding or pushing the pre-historic stones, swerved around the day-trippers clutching their “free” (once you’ve paid the £6.90 to get in) audio guide to navigate their way around the road enclosed circle, past the gift shop steering clear of the Stonehenge bags and souvenir caps and headed to my car to drive away from the spiritually destroyed fenced off henge.
I honestly cannot believe that the road next to Stonehenge still exists, it is completely unnecessary, merely a route for the lazy to drive up to the tarmac entrance of the once mystical home of a bygone era. According to Britannia History, the stones used in that first circle are believed to be from the Prescelly Mountains, located roughly 240 miles away, at the southwestern tip of Wales. The blue stones weigh up to 4 tons each and about 80 stones were used, in all. Given the distance they had to travel, this presented quite a transportation problem. (http://www.britannia.com/history/h7.html) And yet today tourists require the ability to drive within 50 yards of this site and carry not a 4 ton rock but a 4 pound bag containing lunch and a wallet with money to buy a souvenir cap at the end of the 20 minute walk around the henge…