Eclectic - from social documentary to "painterly" and abstracted pictures.
On many edges - leadership development - social development (esp children's education) - photographer - writer - web - ideas - marketing - networks - love music - customer 1st
- On The Pond’s Edge
- A Flood Of Memories
- Jump .. Home
- Escape to the future, Escape to the past
- Coffee, whisky and reflecting icons
- The artist, the photographer and the rain
- Personal Brand – Imagery & Philosophy
- Golden tresses hung on clay
- The Saturday Market at Walcot Street, Bath
- Morning Dew
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Tag Archives: HDR
Jump .. Home
Jump once Jump twice Jump thrice
And we feel the life that there is around us
within us beside us and beyond us.
And there is another jump with another beyond that.
Jump twice and there is no jump
Just a distant measure of success
Jump thrice and the smile disappears
Because the jumper has lost his beat
Jump once Jump twice Jump thrice
And the works becomes clear by comparison.
Home is where you came from. Home is where the family is. Home is where you work.
Home is where you are.
Where is that, exactly?
“Runaway Train” was a favourite song. Cool video too. But was years later that the meaning became clear, explained first hand by someone who did it. Someone who left home to find home. Someone who believed that actions not ideas were the key.
Home is not an idea. It’s an action.
Well, let’s recall the pediatrician story. Some time ago, a new expat family were asked how they would know if they were well settled in their new assignment.
“When your toddler has a problem, who will you call? Will you go to the local doctor, first, and ask for advice? Or will you call the pediatrician “back home”?
Call the local, it means you are home. Call the pediatrician, it means you aren’t home”
It’s the test of being home. Where is your doctor? Who do you trust?
Home. The place we feel safe. The place we go back to. Where we hide, and where we celebrate. We all have somewhere like that. Even travellers have the caravan, embedded in their group.
Home is where the way of life fits living the way you want to.
Jump home then.
The ugly Expat was having a beer by the pool, his pretty companion happily munching on nasi. She lounges with a certain style, practised and without conscience. The sun covers everything like a cloak of anonymity, baking everyone with its constant stare. Well trained staff walk backwards and forwards, offering ice but little consolation. He looks across the pool.
Is he thinking of home? Perhaps more to the point, where are her thoughts? She is a long way from home. Or maybe she is home. Who knows.
A young Japanese mother, daintily dressed in black, was also by the pool. She plays with her toddler. Careful to avoid the sun, and equally careful not to smile. Snacks arrive. Cold drinks refresh. Other mothers watch, yet they seem lost in their own dreams without truly seeing. The toddler is oblivious.
It’s raining at home. It usually does. The day you need the Sun it plays a peeking game.
The police car sat on the bypass, keeping watch lest laws get broken. At the Queens, the likely lads enjoy an illegal Scotch, hidden deep inside a creamy coffee. Scarves at a nautical angle, the afternoon will be spent playing snooker and giggling at music magazines.
Trying to be mod, failing to be hippie, ignoring the pervasive scent of hops and barley. And still hoping to have an amorous evening in the meadows.
Home it was.
Safe, comfortable even as wonders needed to be explored and worlds waited to be changed. Yet it was a place to leave, to put into the perspective of experience and never to repeat. But oh, the stories that it led to. The myths it created.
“Sing out if you want anything” said the Purser, knowing that the acquaintance was brief and the impression immense. Darkness enveloped the flight, with everyone doing their best to turn away. Too late now.
A single cube made it all right. Sleep now.
Home is where you stop, and this bird isn’t it. The infamous second night. But the bird is known, like so many others. It starts here, goes there, and does so with a cosy sequence.
Home used to be 2K. And it still is. But rarely.
Let’s catch some fish – coral trout, spangled emperor, Spanish mackerel and have a barbie. Family from all over, fishing, cooking, eating. And smiling. Don’t forget the smiling. They come together both through tragedy and the start of new lives. They are together because the chose to be. And home is wherever they are, as family.
Jump. Jump all over.
It was home, overlooking the South China Sea. No skyscrapers in sight so it couldn’t have been real. The big boss visited, inspecting the kingdom. Drinks flowed, and cautious small talk from the dozens present. “Would you like peanuts?” asked the 3 year old of the big boss. “Of course, thank you” he replied. He was handed exactly one peanut. Maybe for the first time in his life. One peanut. But it was the 3 year old that was home, not him. Her peanuts after all.
Spiritual home. What an old-fashioned concept, never recognised in an election. Is it a collectivist or individualist place. It’s neither. If individual, how can you be attached to others in some big whole? And, if collectivist, what does it mean to your soul?
So, “where is home”?
Home is where your spirit is. On the grass, by the pool, at work or in love. It’s everywhere and nowhere. It’s now yet, yet also was then. One thing is for sure, though. It will be there tomorrow.
Jump there. Once, twice or thrice.
Home will be right there.
There is a moment of sheer horror when truth is open for all to see.
When eyes that are closed are scared of the night time, and strangers that smile become the immortal.
If it t’were done, said the man, then get the f*** on with it.
Success is a virtue for those that don’t have it.
Speed is a problem for people in slow-mo.
Taste is a matter of feeling and substance.
Heat is a moment with wonderful distance.
If it t’were done, said the man, then get the f*** on with it.
So why this, why now? It’s because of a deal. The past and the future. Escape is always a negotiation between the two. A deal starts with what is, and moves to what should be.
He was in Paris on business this past week. Now, on other days, a trip to Paris is always an adventure. There are things to see, and people to observe. There are new tastes to acquire, and thrills to seek.
The adventure is still there, but there is something a little numbing about the Eurostar routine. It’s a comfortable way to travel of course, and the blackness of the tunnel marks a helpful moment in time. But the routine of a bus is not the same as a road trip. Ask the Beats. The crazy, DeLorean effect of time shift means that it’s just another taxi, just another office, just another meeting.
You are spoilt, the voice says. Others would love to be doing this. Maybe so, your quiet voice says. But your loud voice knows otherwise. That voice knows the pain, the hard work. It’s a job and that’s that.
Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 7
If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly: if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
Let’s hope that there is a difference between plunging a dagger into the back of a King, and making a business trip. Well, at least we read that there is. Macbeth’s problem was, of course, his wife, everyone agrees. Yes, he did the dirty dead. But was it his own choice, or did his Lady spur him on? Isn’t that all a bit ridiculous? People inspire others, to do all manner of things. But at the end of the day each of us decides what to do.
Macbeth killed. Fact. Can’t blame the Lady for the dagger.
Was success a virtue in its own right?
Did Macbeth’s success lead to an inevitable dénouement? Fate is at work. When a deal is done, do we recognise that moment of delicious unveiling? You know it’s for real. Yet you worry that there will there be a twist that blows everything apart.
There are too many questions.
The train speeds on. Missing stations. Hurtling into the fog with no chance of stopping in time. How the driver must trust. Signals. Radio. Putting instinct to one side and keeping steady as you go. Is it true that there is a Dead Man’s Handle? Is Macbeth nearby?
The passengers in the cabin pay attention to their tablets, and dismiss the quality of the air. No one notices the Tunnel. It’s a tube, which starts at one end and finishes at the other. It’s all over almost before it starts.
Always a schedule, always a plan. Speed.
The staff were friendly, they even joked. Was it really a stew? Road kill a fellow traveller offered. Taste in food. It begs the question, is there taste in a deal?
“I am a reformed lawyer – but not quite, as I still like to taste the blood.”
Could have been Lady Macbeth, washing her hands to get rid of the mortal stain. The Lady had style. She had taste. Occupying seat 43 another lady had style. Had taste. And she still hated the road kill. What deal had she been doing in Paris?
There’s something aesthetic about a deal, taking a view, connecting the dots. It’s a dance – sometimes a dance macabre, sometimes it rocks, and sometimes it’s just a jig, backwards and forwards. But it has its own rhythm, its own style. A deal is tasteful.
Or, as Macbeth discovered, it’s not when it has no taste. No style. No right.
Taste. The flavour of the deal.
Open the window, please; it’s hot in here. It’s always a game, negotiation. What would good look like? What are our asks? What are our gives? Who’s the good cop?
It gets warm. Ever had a “cold deal’? If you think you have, then to be honest you don’t know what a deal is. It’s always hot. It has pressure. There is a tiny volcano just beneath your seat.
Hold on, don’t move. Hold on.
You want to escape the heat.
You want to calm things down and slow events. You want to escape the volcano.
Macbeth tried. It was a deal that he thought was menacing and cold. But then there were ghosts testifying to the deed. He couldn’t escape. The past showed through, the prophecy foretold when the trees moved.
Escape the past – not possible.
There’s the heat.
Escape to the future.
I, The Painter
I paint with the magic brush of a new vision
My work is such, as the world has never seen
I attempt to capture life’s meaning with solid colour
But really I can never crave fame nor loathe it
I simply paint those pictures that I see
There was rain everywhere. And it went from last Sunday to this day. The photographer knows that the light after the rain is the best … deepening colours, accentuating shadows, brightening the contrast. The technology always gets in the way, but the eye can still see. The photographer loves the rain.
Yet the artist can’t manage. It’s so fleeting and ephemeral, yet so persistent. A brush paints a stroke, and when it’s finished the moment has moved on. No instant. No instance. The rain stops the enjoyment, makes him focus on it and not getting wet, rather than celebrate the moment and capturing the view.
Rouen kept Monet busy for so long. He kept coming back to see the shades, the colours, the nuance of light. He helped found an entire genre of art. But did he ever catch the rain? No, he saw through it, ignored it, focused on the subject. The rain was an irritation, not an addition.
Everyone tried to ignore the rain.
Rain, rain, rain.
The wipers tried to control it all, and the tempers frayed. Cars moved along at frightening speed, no one thinking that the “two second rule” might actually be applied, never mind extended. But the rain ignored everything, and just did what it does best.
The town was full of people. It couldn’t have been locals, as the car park had no queue, and, after all, we all knew where to go. Restaurants pretended that the inside was sunny. Shops offered space for umbrellas, yet the supermarket struggled to deal with it all – where were the batteries, anyway? Everyone was trying to adapt. The locals nonchalantly ignored the tourists, and everyone ignored the rain. Or at least they tried to. Scarves got wet, hair got wet, everything got wet.
People were taking pictures of buskers with no tune. There was a very odd couple. One was a guitarist with a bluesey tone, probably in his thirties. And there was his partner who looked like he escaped from Hippie heaven, playing percussionist spoons. People walked past.
Even time seemed to shrug things off, as the rain continued.
The stalls showed their art, with much creativity hidden by the awnings protecting against the wetness. The market was replete with vinyl. How many carpets can you buy, and where did all those old hats come from? Victorian glasses, anyone? And every face, every feather, every coat suggested that Sergeant Pepper lived in Bath.
Yet the rain had no mercy.
It cared not for history. Beatles 50 year celebration? Maybe, as the boys did write a song called Rain.
When the Rain comes down.
Everything’s the same.
When the Rain comes down.
I can show you, I can show you.
Rain, I don’t mind.
Shine, the world looks fine.
Can you hear me, that when it rains and shines,
When it Rains and shines.
It’s just a state of mind?
When it rains and shines.
Can you hear me, can you hear me?
And then. It stopped. From one moment to another. Like someone turned a really big on-off switch. The rain evaporated to its home in the sky, where it belonged.
The sun won – and the crowd regained the advantage. Even the pampas grass decided it was time. Stand proud, stand tall. And stand for the moment. Embrace the sun and shake off the rain.
The artist was pleased. Now he could do something of interest. He could capture the light, capture people, imagine life, and show his true colours. The artist now had a chance, at least to create an impression.
The photographer, though? How many times can he use the same f-stop? Where’s the challenge in that? Nothing moves, the light is even, the image looks as it did a month ago, a year ago.
The photographer wants the challenge of the rain to start again. He wants to struggle, to perservere and to win.
“Life’s not about waiting for the storms to pass … It’s about learning to dance in the rain.“
what should be
nor is it
it is simply
I wrote that simple verse in 1969 (!) but it came back to me after the events of this past couple of weeks. And the picture? Well, it was an early morning shot, in the rain, at the company offsite I was at just a few days ago.
Two unrelated things – a poem and a picture, more than 40 years apart? No, they really are connected, as imagery and philosophy are both part of one’s personal brand.
Philosophy? Doesn’t that just mean how we reflect on things? What’s that got to do with branding?
I was trained in Philosophy, or at least had a qualification in the subject. David Hume was always a favourite – and his proof that miracles do not exist was life changing. Not sure that going to gigs and organizing marches is quite the same thing, but at least there was some kind of thought behind it all. Of course, that was before Sartre got involved with darkness and nothingness … that’s another story.
But, if philosophy is reflection, how does it impact us as individuals? There is the kind of reflection that comes from things we have done, either well or badly. Sometimes we just want to learn. Sometimes we want to make excuses. And sometimes we are forced to reflect because of outside influences or events. We philosophize about all of these things, to try to draw patterns and create guideposts for the future.
Last week, the philosopher was talking to a group of young people, explaining how things were going in the business, and where they needed to go. And he made the suggestion that they all define their “personal brand”, because that is important to them as individuals and would be helpful to the group.
But what does that really mean? Is a “brand” a half-fiction, like a good advertising campaign – based on some core idea or truth but with a fantasy twist? Is it just fancy images and superficial content?
Is it a statement of fact – I am what I am – and it can’t be different?
Or is it a work in progress?
It was a talented group, with an eclectic mix of day-to-day skills spread across diverse cultures, different jobs and across thousands of miles. A year ago it was rather a mixture, and maybe a bit fragmented – drawn together for the first time and not sure how the pieces fit. This year, everyone was seeking a sense of purpose and the understanding of a common future.
And it all had a rainbow hue and a twinkle in the eye.
So what is this “brand”, and how does it reflect philosophy?
Well, a brand is partly defined by the skills we have learnt, the education we bring, our family history, and the intent that forms. It’s driven by our personal philosophy, which has been created over time. The classic definition is that a “brand” is a promise or benefit, supported by a reason or technology as to why it’s true – and it all sits on an image, a public face which is consistent and hopefully inspirational over time.
It’s more. What mistakes did we make? What will we admit? What would we do differently? And, most importantly, how can we help others learn and grow from what we have done and from where we have been?
And, imagery is part of a brand, whether personal or otherwise. How do you speak? How do you project? What’s your style? What will people remember? Imagery. Not superficial, but constant. Not without purpose
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
So said Mark Twain. Or, as Gandhi said:
“Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
And it’s still more. What do we value? What don’t we accept? Where is the line drawn? Where we will leave our mark in the future? What will we be valued for – and what will our tombstone say?
“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.”
said Hodding Carter.
Brands are built on values. We each own our brand. And our brands reflect our unique philosophy, our past and our future. The brands reflect our values, which are not fixed but always in motion.
What are our roots? And where will we place our wings?
It then changed. There was the insanity of indoor hockey, the recreation of the Olympic moment (but without the weeks of rehearsal). Certainly too much of a good time, and there were images galore.
Yet there was the camaraderie of a team – forming, storming, norming, and hopefully performing.
And it changed again. The corporate idea of how it should all be. Meeting with other teams, where the values are at stake, where the lessons need to be broad. Where there’s fun but with some purpose, however well hidden between the lights and the music.
So what happened to the personal brand? Did it get submerged, lost? Or did it get honed, sharpened?
Time will tell.
One thing is for sure.
The ideas of philosophy, of what is, will endure.
The question is, what’s your philosophy?
What are your values? And what is your brand?
That was how he saw things, all those years ago, and he wrote it all down, and shared with his love. But had things changed? Was it all golden? Were there tresses? And what happened to the clay?
It was an early morning at Heathrow. Things were calm after the Olympics, and it was all pretty routine. Security was fast – though how many times must he be told to take his jacket off, and put things on a tray. Is his memory that bad? He had time for a coffee and spicy juice before following the crowd to the plane. Outside, autumn was appearing, like some kind of calming cloak, covering everything. It seemed to get the approval of the onlookers, all keen to get some certainty in the weather.
Odd though that there are no seasons inside the red white and blue tube. Just a trolly with the same coffee and snacks all year round. But there was a window to the outside, and after the usual cotton wool views, the first sight of Norway did indeed show that the gold was starting to appear. Not in huge amounts – spotted across the landscape like dandruff amongst the trees. But bright, clear and demanding attention. He was confused, though. What were those brilliant white spots on the field? Hard to make out. Then he realised that it really was autumn. The white spots were hay bales in their protective coats. Ready to feed the cows during the harsh winter, soon to be upon them.
Taxis are always easy – will that be by card, sir? And do you speak English or German (obviously not Norwegian).
He’d forgotten, though, that he wasn’t alone. She was there, ready to take on the world – or, better said, ready for battle after breakfast. The best meal of the day everyone calls breakfast. When that was first noted, did anyone know about airport sandwiches? He thought not.
It was all pretty straightforward. He went to the office, exchanged pleasantries, started doing business … and then he saw the tresses. Of course he’d seen them before, but today they meant more. He had that poem in his head, and was trying to make sense of it to tell the story of the day.
Once there was a not-so-quiet revolution. For the first time, kids went to Uni instead of the Army. Music rocked the world, and everyone challenged the rules. Mind expanding, eclectic, crazy colours and liberation. No one thought about the future – yet everyone protested about the present. Everyone loved everyone – except of course those that they didn’t – and then they argued and protested. He remembered that demonstration against Maggie. And he remembered the tresses.
Lots of them
Black, gold, red. Straight, curled. Plaited. Short. Long. Masculine. Feminine. And in between.
And there, today, so distant from those days in space, time and money, were the tresses. Long, grey, tidy. They wouldn’t have looked out of place at the Uni Bar. But today they controlled the room. Led the people. Pushed, joked and generally knew their value. The tresses unconsciously bound him to both the past and the present.
It went well. Mission accomplished. And there was still time to enjoy Oslo. Well, at least to sample the food in a restaurant getting ready to face the cold, windy nights with heating and blankets. Not necessary today, but always present, just in case. A pleasant evening amongst colleagues and friends. And, despite that last Akvavit, an early return to the hotel, knowing there was more business to do in the morning.
What he didn’t know, though, was that the airport would develop a unique flaw. “Sorry everyone, we can’t fuel the planes. The entire airport is offline”. Like some kind of warning on his computer. “Cannot connect to the network”.
And then he saw the clay. It was beneath his feet, connecting everything. He walks on it. Uses it. Molds it. Yet none of us really ever see it. It grounds us, just like his plane was grounded, stuck in the clay. Not in the air, flying free. But stuck.
The BA Captain was an unexpected star. First, instead of hiding behind the bureaucracy of the moment, he came out to talk, to explain, to reassure. Then, he managed a small miracle – or was it just a competitive strike?
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we managed to get the last bowser of fuel. So, if you wouldn’t mind (getting your asses in gear) we will leave in 10 minutes”.
Leaning back in his seat, in that same tube, with the same trolly but different drinks, his mind wandered. Analysing the day, thinking of the gold, admiring the tresses, and wondering where the clay was now.
And it all came together. The real meaning of the phrase.
Golden tresses hung on clay. A civilisation grown from strands. Combinations and permutations.
The magic of being human, creating worlds of inspiration out of normality. The magic of love and friendship, built from simple origins.
The reality of living.
Sipping his drink, he smiled to himself. He knew he’d explain it all somehow.