Photo Photo On The Wall

Photo Photo On theWall

Who is the greatest them all? For me many are,but who will famous, who will last ten, twenty, thirty fifty years. Will a Capa, a Brassai a Doisineau appear. Certainly,  but most will be forgotten, some never known. I have on my walls the work of four  friends who are also great  professional photographers ,Bob Miller, Duncan Willets, Andrew Brownlee and Niall McDiarmid. None will be remembered. University educated ,daughter Adelaide when asked could not name one great photographer.

For photography  ,which has only recently broken out as an art form ,read in even bigger type musicians, writers,artists,architects. Thousands produce, hundreds make it ,few  are feted,even less remembered. Will Eric’s poems, Katie’s books, Barbara and Jon’s music , Legs and Greta’s pictures  bring pleasure ,yes; pass the test of time? I doubt it.

All of this was brought on by watching, Last Stop Coney Island:The Life and Photography of Harold Feinstein.(1931-2015) Its three shows this week in the Curzon  doc house all sold out. It was the Coney Island that got me. My passion for seaside piers comes from a deep love of down market resorts. The unpretentious determination  to have fun, escape wage slavery, the brutal commercialism, the pure humanity of these fun cities , in and out of season, gets me.

And when it comes to peoples’ resorts in the modern era. Its got to be Coney Island. I also love  classic black and white street  photos. So Feinstein rates. But the big thesis of the film was why isn’t he up there with the Gods. Well there are a lot of great photographers, Vivian Maier showed that a nanny with a box camera can do the business. Every day someone in my family sends me a great photo. Even I have taken the odd great shot. Its not rocket science.

Feinstein was bought by MOMA when he was nineteen  but spent most of his life in palookaville. The film talked of his drug addiction, his alcoholism, his  various marriages, his refusal to let others mount his work. The film answered  the question. No amount of lovers,wives,children, collectors,curators telling me he was a “force of nature”,”a philosopher” and a great human being can alter the fact that he weighted the cards against himself. When it came to being an immortal,he had the cards, he didn’t play them well. But he took  great photographs, and isn’t that the point.

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Restaurant Review-Andrew Edmunds

Restaurant Review-Andrew Edmunds

This year’s old boys lunch was oversubscribed  so we had to desert the beloved  Beaujolais and booked an alternative in deepest Soho, Andrew Edmunds,Lexington Street. The other day I tried it out. Why not before, its been around forever?

This is a class, stylish restaurant in a street tucked between the more fashionable Broadwick and  Brewer Streets. Here are  no swanky restaurants, pubs, men’s shops,pop up stalls,porn boutiques or tattoo parlours. This is a street, as is this area ,dedicated to the creative industries of film, advertising and design. Here no tourists fly.

The restaurant is on three floors. Normal lunch is for around twenty on the ground floor. Up stairs and down are for parties(such as the old boys). A little tight but fine and atmospheric. Its  authentic , cool, its not French, Italian,gay or ultra smart, just cool,relaxed and well run. There was no problem in me inspecting the rooms. Later I noticed that some just come in just for coffee,a good friendly sign,

On other tables suits without ties  enjoy and laugh heartily at jokes about small print, and elsewhere creatives gesticulate as they talk of the chemistry between actors.

Onto the main event- the food. I ordered a glass of Bordeaux blanc and mineral water. The menu was interesting  and not too long. For me, starter,  lamb salami and pulled red cabbage,for main, smoked haddock cream and roast fennel. The service was good, a drink coming in five minutes,the salami in ten and the main in twenty five minutes. The guys serving had personality and charm.

Salami was a poor choice driven by the fact that since my heart operation salami is banned at home and I love red cabbage. Neither very  interesting. But the haddock. This was a dish of dreams,tasty,subtle,meaty, beautifully cooked and the fennel not my normal favourite, excellent. The wine was fine and house wine at £21 a bottle is very fair.

Andrew Edmunds is set in what was once obviously a Georgian town house and the feel reminded me of  the  best of Amsterdam. Classy, well run and for a suburban boy something different and worth writing about. The old boys will be happy. Of course my bill(with service and coffee) of £38 involved only one glass. I am not the first to give a rave review.

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Property Market-the facts

Property Market-The facts

OK I know someone who had to drop the price of their six bedroomed de luxe from £7m to £4m. I know if someone in my road who hasn’t dropped their price from £1.8m and has had no takers for three years.  I hear the doom and gloom. But.

He sold at £4m,others in the street who dropped their prices to £1.4m sold. Which is twice what they cost ten years ago.

Which brings me onto to Adelaide’s flat in Brixton.Two bedroomed,ground floor with big yard,mansion block  apartment. She bought ten years ago for £310k and now having set up home in Sydney,with a new baby she wants to sell and buy a family home in her now home town.

She gets the local estate agents in ,they say £650k no problems. But she  knows there is another in her block that cannot move on £610k. Family connections lead her to on line agent

They suggest  being at the lower end of the price range means a more likely sale and  always the chance of rival bids. So she goes on at £580k. Fifteen viewers -several bids starting at £500k,through £520k,£565k until she gets her price. They promise cash but it turns out there is a chain which breaks down. As does the deal. But such is the good faith all round that that the buyer offers to pay rent(Adelaide’s tenants having moved out) until her deal comes through.Two months later it does.

So with a  hiccup the flat is sold. What does this tell us about the market. It is a buyers market but quality is still quality. Those who hanker after the high prices of four years ago will have to wait for the cycle to turn.It might not.

Brixton like  elsewhere in South London-Earlsfield,Tooting etc is up and coming. Brixton not only buzzes but has a brilliant Victoria Line connection with the centre.

As well it shows that on line estate agents work. Would a more aggressive hands on estate agent  have got a better price? We will never know. But Adelaide wanted a sale,a good profit and a done deal. She got what she wanted and instead if paying £8k commission she paid a flat one thousand.

How did she do this with the Brexit cloud hanging over,how indeed.

PS For those looking for a new property boom a word of caution. The house we bought in 1980 for £70k in now worth £2.5m- a thirty times plus increase. If this happens over the next forty years the house will be worth £60m and the currency and the economy  fucked.

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Grandad’s Diary(cont)

Grandad’s Diary (cont)

It was a big weekend. Six month old Arthur is still with us and his cousins six year old Octavia and 18 month old Delilah joined us for the two days. War zone declared. Now I am not front line in these things but I did my bit. I hold,I play lego, I sing, I dance, I sit down and play in ten minute bursts, I help with the meals. New man? Perhaps not. Nappies no, bedtime stories no, bath time no, but I am around if needed.

So I am on the couch.I am still reading the FT  big article about Modi’s chances in the Indian general election. Now as someone whose  family were tooth and claw Raj (incl. MY grandfather)and having  spent a year in the sub continent this subject interests.

In the mean time young Delilah is trying to master putting wooden shapes into the right hole. Is she backward,forward or normal? She has got the circle  but getting the triangle or the rectangle the right way is beyond her.

When when she isn’t adding brain cells she is trying to maul Arthur who gets very upset. At the same time I am trying to square what I am reading with the massive Islamaphobia of the few Indian friends I know.

Arthur squeals with indignation at Delilah’s pinching of his arm. Or maybe its pain. I am forced to put the paper down,maybe  I wont be able to effect the Indian general election. Multitasking is beyond me.

Now Delilah may not speak but she understands. So I tell her to be gentle. She  opens her blue eyes a bit wider,I am powerless. Arthur quietens. I go back to the paper.

Delilah works out you dont need to put the shapes through holes, just back into the box.  Does that make her smart, a loser, lacking the right stuff to make it? Indian politics is simpler. Her next attempt to stroke Arthur  has her poking his eye. Soon the weekend will be over.

Before it is . Arthur’s first tooth appears  and Octavia wins at the lego building competition, comes second in the playground  obstacle course and does well in the hand jiving. She is also absolutely brilliant with her younger sister. And she lets Grumps get away with it. And Modi wins the election. Did I help?

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Stand Up Poetry

Stand Up Poetry

On our last night in Lyme we went to  see award winning poet Hollie McNish. Wipe Out. Absolutely brilliant. Cutting,funny, personable,charming,what was not to like. OK for the really squeamish a lot of stuff  about what in makes a fanny tick,how totally awful  parts of  pregnancy and young motherhood are. And take it as  read men are on the whole   beastly,unthinking,gross,caring or really missing the point. Which is probably why the sell out audience was as much as  80 per cent of the same sex as the author.

But as a regular fan of stand up comedy I couldn’t help but notice the similarities. Here was the unspeakable and unspoken being articulated with humour, feeding a baby on a shit encrusted toilet. Here was the exposure of the smug,pat answers of officialdom, Now you are ready to have sex again. And so on.

Put well in a stream of rolling, coherent blank, verse  this was poetry not  standup. Not least because stand ups learn their lines while poets read theirs. But the effect is the same,adult audiences get to chuckle and laugh at life’s absurdities, the massive elephants in every room.

Elephants like they way even today certain things are not said or spoken, how men and women have vast areas of life which are different, apart and incomprehensible. How increasingly pc officialdom is  missing the whole point of a public which is more and more in touch with their  feelings, their neurosis and their rights. We know why our partners annoy us, we know why we stay or leave,we know our children are not perfect and nor are we.

This is the attraction of a star like Hollie McNish. She gets it in such a charming way that love is in the air.

I came across this quote from D.H. Lawrence,and it  rang true with my five plus star view of McNish,

“We judge a work of art by its effect of our sincere and vital emotion and nothing else.”

There is masses of McNish on youttube but it broke my British heart to hear her read Tennyson’s, Charge of the Light Brigade

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News From The Front

Every morning we take Arthur for a one hour walk along the dramatic Lyme front.Early enough to see a few joggers,the lovely ladies of Lyme go for their daily dip,the odd dog walkers,the first lobster boats go out,the bin men at work and the seagulls having the beach to  themselves.

The other morning two jolly dog walkers looked at Arthur in his pram and said,ours is on a lead. To which I replied. He is yours for a fivver. Too much, the chap replied.Why’s that.I know how much they cost. We chuckled.

Yesterday while licking my ice cream and gull swooped and snatched my cone away.(Black current and cream since you ask) Five minutes later the same thing happened to Adelaide.(Rum and raisin) This was war,had the parakeets of Putney found seaside allies? I mentioned it in the newsagents and he and his mate  both laughed,It happens all the time.One looked at the other and said,He trains them.

(It might be a lost ice cream but it is a life time memory, to go with the piece of toast stolen by a monkey  in Rajahs-tan and homeless lady who snatched  the steak off my plate in Paris.)

We asked a bin man about the sandy bit of the Lyme beach. Where did they import the sand from?  They just dredge the harbour every year and dump the sand on the next door beach. That means its English sand none of that French muck. said the ruddy faced bin man in his high viz packet no doubt itching to vote Brexit in the Euro elections.

We have had the use of  seaside hut. Something I had in my  snooty way had always despised. But what fun  and what a convenience with a six month old babe. Or maybe I have just got to the gormless age where I fit neatly into the dunroamin of a beach hut.

Across the bay a large container vessel with derricks has  been moored. We found out that it was delivering rocks for the sea defences around West Bay. Our fisherman friend told us that the vessel was costing £50k a day.

And all the time the retreating wave caresses the pebbles and in the distance Chesil beach reflects the sun.


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All My Sons

A trip to Lyme’s dinky Marine Theatre with its to die for bar  to see the streamed NT’s production of Miller’s, All My Sons. Brill.

And that got me thinking about fathers and sons. Why fathers are more likely to forgive sons than vice versa. Fathers have after all invested heavily in their off spring,whether true or false they take some responsibility for what happens,they may even understand why it happened.

The reverse is not so true. It may well be in either case blood will be thicker than any remorse,guilt or finger wagging. But sons start off thinking their parents are knights in armour,black or white. When a shade of grey or worse appears they can sometimes be very cruel. Adult children find it difficult to take adult positions with their parents.

All this is highlighted in Vivien’s family. Grandfather set up  a highly successful multi pub business,Viv’s dad took it over,Viv’s brother Tim started an equally successful business and made Mike a director. Tim was caught wrongdoing, the business went down and he sacked his father,who had a stroke. Meanwhile Tim’s behaviour makes sure his parents cant see their grandchildren. Tim reappears   to lead Mike into another business which bankrupts him in his last years. Ouch.

Mike’s reaction to Tim? Never a dull or cross word. Maybe Mike came from a generation which didnt show it or maybe he was an example of fathers forgiving sons. I once asked,he never answered. Great guy,shame about the son.

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