Thursday, 30 November 2017


Redbridge Towers and M271 flyover

Traffic fumes at sunset...

I wish I could think of a decent alternative to "project", as it's a word with unfortunate associations; I can practically feel people smirking every time I write it. At one extreme, it brings to mind an extended piece of schoolwork ("My Pets", or "Collective Behaviour of Chemotactic Microorganisms in a Viscous Environment", you know the sort of thing). At the other extreme, it's the word actors, models, and musicians use to dignify their self-centred little worlds to us civilians; the words "vanity" and "project" seem to have a horse-and-carriage-style magnetic attraction. But it's a good, useful word, nonetheless, which I use to signify something lying somewhere between two of its Oxford Dictionary definitions, "an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim" or "a proposed or planned undertaking". Delete "carefully" from the first, and emphasise "proposed" in the second, and they're pretty much in the same place, aren't they?

Anyway, my proposed "Soul of Southampton" project (stop that smirking) is slowly getting under way, and may or may not get somewhere in the New Year. As part of my, uh, careful planning, I decided to go for a walk out onto the Redbridge Causeway (a.k.a. the Totton Bypass) on Tuesday. It was a beautiful, cold and crisp day, and by mid-afternoon the sun was already getting low and casting a deceptively warm glow onto the west-facing banks of the Test Estuary. There was nothing deceptively warm about the constant north wind, however.

I've driven over that bridge hundreds of times, as it's the quickest route to the New Forest. As you cross the River Test, you get a fleeting glimpse of the docks and Southampton Water and, depending on the state of the tide, either a gleaming expanse of water or a gleaming expanse of mud. Alongside the dual-carriageway is a narrow path and cycleway, so I threaded my way through the backstreets and underpasses of the Redbridge Estate (another kind of "project", and a lively place, to say the least, at school chucking-out time) and then risked life and limb on the motorway flyover slip-roads so that I could eventually get up onto the walkway, where I hoped to get some good views of the river and the docks.

Which, I hope you'll agree, I did. However, one obvious lesson was re-learned: don't use the rail of a busy road-bridge as a support for a camera. Even when the traffic is light, it's vibrating like a gong, and does absolutely nothing for the sharpness of your photographs.

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amolitor said...

Sally Mann offers, more or less, this phrase "just somethin' I'm fuckin' around with" which is how I, invariably, think of these things.

Mike C. said...

Ah, the elegance and the eloquence of the Southern aristocracy! I wonder what good ol' Bill Eggleston calls it?


amolitor said...

I assume Bill calls it something like "aaaggbblltppp.... uhhhh... pffft" and then passes out again. His devoted biographers will, through a process not unlike "Facilitated Communication" translate it into something rather more coherent and academic, but slightly less reliable.