Stratford swansong

It’s Mop Fair time in Stratford, and as ever the streets are alive with rides, sweets, screams and bass – and visitors who look increasingly young. It’s bittersweet, as I’m currently packing up my flat, but is fun as ever.

I’ve been visiting for ten years, on and off, and at first I used to go down at lunchtimes and ride the exciting bits by myself. But in the last few years it’s only fun if experienced with other people. So this year my dance partner came down, and we hit pretty much everything. Including the centrifuge, in which you stand against a rotating drum, which speeds up until you’re plastered against the wall like that bit in Hot Shots1, at which the point the floor drops away. I like that one. There was also the most intense waltzer I’ve ever experienced (the woman next to us kept apologising for swearing), the least frightening ghost train in the world (there was green and red paint on the walls, and that was it), and a carousel (on which I was able to ride a giant chicken).

I also won (well, paid £2.50 for – this may seem a lot, but bear in mind I also got to grab a duck with a pole) a monkey who lives in a banana, which I do not understand. Is the banana eating him? Is it a banana sleeping bag? Anyway, his name is Mondeo.

But the highlight of my evening was that after after years of wussing out, I finally held my nerve and took a picture from the highest ride in town. It’s a long arm – seven or eight stories, I’d guess – that spins around a point and has four swinging chairs at each end. If you get lucky they’ll strap you into your chair and spin you up to the top while they load the next batch, so you get a lovely view of the fairground and the town at night. I got lucky, so, clutching my iPhone very, very hard, I took this:

The Mop Fair

Pleased with that. Slightly blurred, but it’ll do.

It’s a nice bookend to my time in Stratford, though I’m more melancholy than I expected. Technically I’m only renting out my flat, and I’m consoling myself that I can come back. But you can’t go home again. I’m very excited about my new place in London, and I’m sure it’ll be great, but I know nothing will ever feel quite like this – different and equally nice, I’m sure, but never quite the same. It’s time to move on, though. Things to do.

  1. possibly Part Deux []

Intermission

Hello! I’m still here, really I am. The quietness is more to do with being neurotic than busy. I have plenty of posts drafted on brainstuff, but the moment I consider translating them I feel guilty about the many, many university things I’ve yet to complete, so I go away and don’t do them instead.

I’ll be in London all this week, sitting in the university library trying to find people who’ve said something about Flickr that isn’t pretentious beyond imagining. 2500 words seem a long way off. Once that’s done I’ll be putting in a Blurb order for my big practical project, and really hoping their printers don’t break down next week.

May 5th is the deadline – well, ish –  and I shall endeavour to pop in from time to time before then. I’m also always about on twitter.

Finally, apropos of nothing, I took this picture in Hyde Park, and I quite like it1:

Hyde Park Tulip

  1. feels a bit vain, but what’s a blog for? []

Vortex photo published

If you were to buy a copy of Weird U.S. – Volume 2 and turn to page 129, you’d find one of my photos. It’s a shot of the Oregon Vortex – a roadside tourist trap where bizarre optical effects are due to ‘the vortex’ and not ‘standing on a slope’. I made my family stop there in 2001, just because it sounded fun.

The book’s publishers found the image on Flickr and asked if they could use it. This was before I started charging for commercial use, so I agreed in return for a credit and a copy of the book. It arrived yesterday, and there I am. Yay! Pleasingly, it’s quite a fun book. There are many, many similarly bonkers attractions dotted around the USA – my favourite so far is the 19m Giant Jesus.

I’ve had a couple of photos published in newspapers / newsletters, but never before in a book. Admittedly it’s more of a snapshot – on film, no less – taken before I got properly interested in photography, but still. Gotta start somewhere.

The sheep used to cluster in the middle anyway. It looked bad.

The BBC says the big naked dude on a hill is overgrown and invisible, due to a lack of sheep. The caption underneath the accompanying photo says:

The giant was disguised in WWII to stop it being used as a landmark

Sadly there are no photos of said disguise, but I suspect this is close enough:

Orders: Bomb places near the enormous pagan dude with an erection.
Bombers: That dude is too villainy to be a pagan.

Busywork

I’ve spent the last two days essay writing, so it’s a bit quiet here atm. I’ve finished a first draft, bar the conclusion, but am now starting to doubt my interpretation of the question. Thankfully it’s not due in for another month – I somehow forced myself to sit down and start – so there should be plenty of time to hone it. If anyone has any thoughts on whether ‘straight photography’ really counts as photographic Modernism, please get in touch.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of my inexplicably 7-month-old little niece:

We're starting her early

A post for Young Jim

Readers who do not wish to know the depths of my geekiness should look away now. Really. This is actually a post especially for Young Jim, probably the only other person on the planet who would get excited by this, somewhat more blurry than intended, image1:

Pay@Pump

Young Jim – observe the new Pay@Pump hotness! Keypads! You know what this means, don’t you? Pay@Kiosk-ers have no excuse, barring barley sugars. We win!

Normal service will now resume.

  1. I would like to point out that the hopefully-not-illegal use of a mobile phone on a petrol station forecourt is fine because the dangers are made up []