Monday, 2 January 2017

New Year's Day


Clevedon Pier

I have a self-imposed tradition of venturing out on New Year's Day, whatever the weather, to take at least one photograph. This year, the weather was truly awful, so (being in Bristol) we decided to go down to the coat at Portishead and Clevedon, where the full awfulness of the weather could be experienced at its greatest intensity. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

However, when you can feel the camera thrumming in the wind in your hands, you know you may have a problem with the low shutter speeds demanded by the failing light. When you can no longer feel the camera in your hands, because your fingers have gone numb in the cold north-east wind and driving rain, you know it's time to retreat indoors for a seaside cup of tea.



Luckily, the very pretty Clevedon Pier has been restored to a very high standard indeed in recent times, and boasts a very upscale restaurant, as well as the original, wind-blasted cafe (little more than a  bus shelter) at the end of the pier. Even more fortunate, both were open.

I was intrigued to discover, in the nice little interpretive museum adjacent to the upscale restaurant, that in the the 1950s the presence of a juke box in a Nissen hut situated at the end of the pier had made Clevedon Pier a magnet for the emerging youth scene. Wild nights were had, reelin' and a-rockin' above the Bristol Channel waves surging below. I have a fascination for that period and the liminal places – coffee bars and cafes in the main, but also out-of-the-way huts and truck-stops – where jazz, skiffle and rock'n'roll broke through the post-War cracks in stiff British reserve. I have long intended to write something about it. Maybe this year...


Haiku by Buson (1716-1784)

7 comments:

Thomas Rink said...

Happy new year, Mike! Taking pictures in winter weather can be a pain, but I find the results often rewarding - as evidenced by the attached pictures. Seems like there is more depth, more soul under these conditions compared to the so-called "nice weather". The Haiku says it nicely, by the way.

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...

Happy New Year to you, too, Thomas!

Yes, I much prefer winter to summer, though I still like autumn best of all. My problem was I forgot to take any gloves... Plus my allegedly weatherproof camera kept demanding to be shut down and restarted (I think the wind was pushing rain through the non-weatherproof lens...).

The haiku ring is a leftover from an old project, "Downward Skies", where I mixed haiku texts and photographs. It suddenly popped back into my mind as I was writing the post.

Just about to raise a glass to the memory of John Berger, btw, who died today.

Mike

Mike C. said...

Thomas,

btw, if you meant to attach some pictures to your comment (?) they didn't survive the journey.

Mikw

Thomas Rink said...

Mike, no, I didn't attach any pictures of my own - I meant the pictures which accompanied your post!

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...

Thomas,

Ah, well, in that case, thanks, you're very kind! I have rarely struggled to keep a camera still as I did that afternoon...

Mike

Thomas Rink said...

Mike,

just a question - you mentioned above the death of John Berger. The John Berger who wrote about seeing and photography? If so, do you have a book recommendation? I've so far only read a summary of his work.

Thank you!

Thomas

Mike C. said...

Thomas,

Yes, that's him, sort of a maverick Marxist who popularised some of Walter Benjamin's ideas. I'm just writing a post about him (or, really, about his impact on me!). "Ways of Seeing" is his classic TV series and book from 1972 (still much used in art colleges, I believe), but some of his best books were made in collaboration with Swiss photographer Jean Mohr, e.g. "A Seventh Man", about immigration into Europe, and "A Fortunate Man", about a country doctor.

His shorter essays are always worth reading (there are several collections). He also wrote fiction, and was famous for winning the Booker Prize in 1972 and donating the prize money to the Black Panthers...

I feel about him the way one feels about a favourite teacher, which is kind of what he was.

Mike