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Saturday, February 01, 2003

CAUGHT IN THE NET This is a fragment of a larger photograph I took a few years back, with my old Pentax, which hangs in our kitchen. It?s far from ideal to use a hand-held digital with subdued flash to illustrate my point but it just about sketches what I want to share, although the colours aren?t accurate.

In one sense it is a reminder of a fairly grim time ,being on holiday with someone who left me,increasingly, feeling emotionally stagnant. Back then, looking for subjects to photograph, a source of intense irritation to her, was a favourite antidote to the general misery of being around her. To add to the dissatisfaction, we were camping in what must be the only desolate and unphotogenic part of France. My frustration was palpable. We were on the south coast near the Spanish border. We were looking aimlessly around what was a small, scruffy harbour, and not even the fishing boats,the few that still worked, cried photograph me.

In a wilderness of rotting hulls, the stale smell of dead sea fish and litter, my eye was drawn to abandoned but neatly heaped fine-meshed fishing nets. They?d been bleached by the harsh Mediterranean sun into a range of pastel blues, oranges and reds. I really liked their muted colours, the mesh textures and naturally curving folds. I was thrilled when I saw the print back in England. Occasionally, out of hundreds of holiday shots, I took an accidentally great photograph!

I can?t remember when I first spotted the face in the netting. I never noticed it down the actual lens. I have tried to capture him in this fragment. If you look closely you can see a man?s face with a Zapata moustache. He has melancholic eyes. Spookily, it looks, now, a little like the younger me; the man that took the picture. Obscenely content and clean-shaven these days, I can muse that it is more than just netting; I frame it now as an image for when I was trapped but didn?t realize it. Images and words record and help heal, in hindsight, help you appreciate the changes you have gone through . Making them public is a way to celebrate the joy of those changes. The man in the netting is smiling back at me now, I swear.

johncoxon 12:50 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

The joy of not being in pain is something you only really appreciate when you have an awful toothache. It had me lying awake in the dark for a crawling four hours last night, trying not to cry , whimpering quietly like a wounded puppy, clutching a soft cloth to my jaw and turning endlessly to find relief. It wasnt anywhere to be found. Nothing in the home medicine cabinet had any effect. By three a.m. I couldn?t hold out any longer. I dressed through a clenched face; drove, on autopilot, through the snow along the empty streets to Accident and Emergency at Hope Hospital. I was hurting too much to drive fast.

Ten minutes in and out of a casualty department must be some kind of national record. It is a sort of local tradition to spend a few hours in A&E with a friend after the clubs turn out early Saturday morning. Hospital waiting rooms are usually full with drink related casualties then. I must have got in before rush hour; just two alcoholically affable, dressed-to-kill Friday night girls, smiling at me sympathetically, one with a minor nightclub gash to her calf. The electronic information board rolled out its usual message; two to three hours wait to see a doctor. Mercifully, it wasn t long before I was mumbling gratitude, through my security cloth, to a friendly male nurse in blue fatigues handing me a cocktail of painkillers and making my way home.

I frantically popped the tablets and sat at the kitchen table, swilling coffees, smoking, and praying for them to kick in, sometimes getting to my feet and resting my face on anything soft for relief . An hour later completely unbearable had turned to unbearable. Trust me. The word painkiller is a misnomer where toothache is concerned. An alcoholic stupor or a general anesthetic are the only sure-fire analgesics when you teeth rebel like this in your jaw.

Another long hour later, the ache got to bearable status, but it wasnt long before I felt it start to flare up my face again. I was happy to risk the side effects of a premature half dose, reasoning that dizziness and throwing up was a small price to pay for making it through the time warp. The three goldfish stared ; their air pump hummed. The second hand on the kitchen clock marked time loudly in a mocking beat. I estimated another fourteen thousand ticks before the emergency weekend dental clinic opened. I hit my bed again, finally comfortable, just before dawn. I never made it to the clinic. I was enjoying being able to sleep too much.

johncoxon 5:50 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, January 31, 2003
The Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution struck me, even at the age of 16, as I studied American History, as beautifully eloquent renaissance prose, great philosophy and political ideology, and an emphatic, authoritative and assertive, confident statement of an emerging nation , no longer willing to tolerate the tyranny of the British. The once oppressed have turned tyrant

Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the other boys did a great job and gave America its creed , a text you want to believe in, be guided by, but not, I hope, followed slavishly without critical thinking . I still have a problem, as I did then, about that business of the right to bear arms, necessary then. Today it bolsters up the gun lobby and justifies the crazy gun laws you all have. That bit needs writing out of the script and I don't understand why, even if those original documents are sacred, it hasn't been done. It is to quote the original, a self evident truth? that you have no need to carry guns unless you are sick.

Old men write and enforce the scriptures, secular or biblical, with mainly good intent, but the spoken and written word is always open to interpretation. Words alone are prone to flexible interpretation and help those with evil intent, to conveniently forget the original spirit of the script. Fraudulent misreading has led to so many atrocities, both in the past and now. No pure Moslem that I have met could ever, find in their heart (or sanctioned in the Holy Koran ) any justification for what happened in September last year.

Here in England , the established state church, dominated by older men, (who have academic background that is more theological than logical), worries that its congregations are dwindling, but sees new churches, with people that live their faith and do good things for others daily, flourish. The state church here is still predominantly homophobic and anti-women to this day, and yet protects its own clergymen, some of whom have abused children. According to Corinthians, (be impressed as a heathen like me knows about these things) the greatest virtue is Charity. Our state church doesn't understand this fundament, nor the principle of love thy neighbour as thyself.

Then there was G.W. He has this great historical script about all men being equal and having inalienable rights, to be free and pursue happiness. But that didnt actually include all men of course. Innocent civilians in Iraq for example! There is always a void between the rhetoric and what actually happens on the streets. Ask a disadvantaged black American or a native Indian how equal and free to pursue happiness they actually feel in the land of the free ! George must be being fed lines by script writers. He hasn not the wit to string a coherent sentence together without a gaff or two. I can not understand why he is so popular. I can not see lot of difference between the tyranny of his received dogma, and worldly self righteousness, and the tyranny of that awful dictator in Iraq, who can not be a true Moslem in any sense ( if that is the faith he professes.) George simply has more cash at hand and needs the oil to fuel his nations greed. He has bigger guns than Sadam, plus, a God-given inalienable right, constitutionally, to fire them, at will, in the perceived defence of freedom of the nation he represents. George, maybe you should put your own house in order before taking the moral high ground on behalf of us all. Is there any real difference between what Lee Harvey Oswald did and what George would like to do? George, go look at the exhibits section of your own NARA at www.archives.gov and read your scriptures again. Can you actually read?

johncoxon 10:08 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Amidst the greens, greys, sandy browns and blacks of traditional rural Lancashire are modest local stone built houses and farm buildings in honest grimy sandstone and grit, with a natural scale and colour range that blends harmoniously with the landscape. But on a hill at Chorley , near Preston, overlooking the busy M61 motorway, sits a bizarre and eyrie monumental eyesore, grossly at odds with its surroundings.

Built in the last decade, it looks ridiculously incongruous, as if a huge , too perfectly crafted, chunk of wedding confectionery had fallen to earth. The architectural style is quite literarily New World extraterrestrial , an imported structural vanity that is completely alien to this land. It seems to defy the belief it was built to re-enforce. It was constructed in luminously extravagant pearly white Olympian Granite and marble at an estimated cost of between £100 and £150 million pounds.. It might just well as have been sculpted from specially imported pristine Utah salt.

This is not my vision of the New Jerusalem ; but the tasteless embodiment of outrageous self-indulgence and self-righteousness. I have a notion that, were its floodlights to be switched off in the night, it would continue to glow in the dark. I was staggered to discover that it isn?t even used as a place of daily worship and that it is so sacred that you have pass an entry interview to get inside. Amongst a religious sect where absolute virtue and model spiritual and physical health are pre-requisite, entry to the temple is actually restricted to a mere twenty percent of the faithful.

Aren?t the meek supposed to inherit the earth, and what would the humble Carpenter from Nazareth have to say were He to return , (as they presumably anticipate) and sit in judgement of those who condoned this hideous misuse of community wealth.

He would almost certainly have approved of, the impressively honest Reebok Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers football club which he would see if he looked to the east of the Temple. This structure hosts a wealth of community orientated facilities in a modern, practical design that has deservedly won national and international architectural acclaim. Ironically, Bolton play in pure white and anyone with a ticket is welcome. Whilst it has, grant you, a certain space age look, it is of this earth, a practical engineering solution to the problem of protecting the real world faithful from the elements.

johncoxon 4:40 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, January 26, 2003
Cast your mind back to Victorian times in the early 1900?s, and working class housing in Northern England. Back then; the main industry in our hometown, Swinton, was coal mining. It had five active pits close to our home, some deep mines, others wet earth surface collieries, part of the vast Lancashire coalfield. All the pits in this formerly great coalfield have long since closed down, leaving very little tangible evidence.

Our small, two-up, two-down, brick built pavement terrace home was originally a mining cottage. Such terraces were back-to-back, each with just a small back yard rather than a garden, and often the outdoor toilet was a communal facility. In more recent times the two bedrooms, which originally had open coal fireplaces, were repartitioned, keeping one large room and creating a small bathroom (with indoor toilet at last) and small bedroom. A lot of these original terraced houses have either been demolished or had modern extensions built onto the rear elevation to create more living space. Our house has the original cramped dimensions!

Evidence of the past is usually hidden. Originally, in the age of the horse drawn vehicle, the streets here were cobbled. You can still see the original granite sets peeping through the worn tarmac outside our home. It gives me an image of miners, early in the morning, their wooden clogs echoing in the cold morning air, on the way to the pits. Two summers ago I did a makeover in the back yard, resetting the paving to create a patio, lawn and flower borders. I made a patchwork of Yorkshire stone ,I scavenged for on waste ground in the neighbourhood. The boundaries of our yard are original; lines of huge upright slabs of limestone flagstones. You can see one of them in the picture . I felt morally obliged to preserve them intact.

Now then, what are you looking at? During the garden makeover I turned over a huge limestone slab that was part of the old path. I?d found the original stone kitchen sink. Later, to my amazement, I dug up another one. I made them garden features, one a working sink with a tap, the other on is pictured here. I think of them both as almost sacred objects that have to be preserved.

johncoxon 3:39 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

john/Male/51-55. Lives in United Kingdom/Engalnd/Salford, speaks English and French. Eye color is brown. I am what my mother calls unique. I am also creative. My interests are photgraphy/local history.
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United Kingdom, Engalnd, Salford, English, French, john, Male, 51-55, photgraphy, local history.