Closure: ’35 Years On’ (Part 6 of 6)

When I undertook my ‘street’ portrait project in 1984, I never thought I would be tramping the streets of Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire 35 years later, revisiting those I photographed…

Lisa, 1984

On the 22nd August 2009 I received a message from someone I had met – for barely an hour – 25 years previously:

‘WOW…I totally remember this! I just had my 40th birthday party in America (where I live) and had the actual picture out on display. Everyone LOVED it! I love it too!’

The message was from Lisa and the picture she was referring to is the one that heads this blog. I still have 27 of the original 36 prints I exhibited – simply mounted on card and fixed, in sixes, on large sheets of hardboard I had covered with blackboard paint – at Scunthorpe Museum in 1985. In 2009 I photographed the prints, posted them on facebook and through friends of friends the post reached a homepage in Wisconsin, USA.

I’ve moved around a lot and things get lost; five years ago I discovered the 53 rolls of film that comprised my portrait project – all in perfect condition – in a box of stuff stowed away in my brother’s garage. I felt more could be done and this current project is the result.

A somewhat warmer location than the 1984 one, if I remember correctly

Following her education, Lisa backpacked around Europe and Canada; she worked in a Greek bar and was a fruit picker in Beamsville, Ontario. (Interestingly, Beamsville lies between Lincoln and Grimsby – named after the Lincolnshire county town and the Lincolnshire port, must have seemed like home from home.)

Although Lisa studied jewellery and clothing at Grimsby Art College she works as a financial planner – quite a change of direction I thought – in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Lisa has lived in the United States for 22 years now, having first gone over when her then partner got relocated from the UK. That relationship faltered and she now lives above the recording studios of her fiancé, Brad (in a rather splendid building I might add).

The new photographs were taken at the home of Lisa’s parents in Scunthorpe the day before she was due to fly back; because the original portrait was one of my favourites I had rearranged the start date of my project. I’m glad I did…

…oh, and Brad reminded me instantly of the singer/songwriter, Neil Young.

Lisa, 2019
Bruce, 1984

Bruce has always worked in the construction industry. He moved to south London in 1987, after Big Red Gun, a band he played bass for, split up. He auditioned with a couple of bands that didn’t really go anywhere, bought a house in Caterham, Surrey in 1990 and didn’t really play for a couple of years.

In 1994 Bruce started playing in a covers band and got to to know ‘some guys with whom I’m still good friends with and still play with to this day.’

‘Whilst playing with function bands The Stonebeats (60s tribute) , The Xscene , and Blondie tribute band, Plastic Letters l had the real pleasure of meeting and playing with a few people who feature in my record collection: Mathew Fischer from Procul Harum, Darren Mooney from Primal Scream and Dave Ruffy from The Ruts.’

Bruce moved back to Scunthorpe in 2006 and bought a couple of properties that he rents out. He is still involved in the local music scene and plays bass with Pointblank. He tells me that he also does ‘a fair bit of ‘depping’, still get the occasional call from the guys down south to cover a gig, always a good catch up.’

Bruce, 2019
Hayley, 1984

I was walking through Central Park, Scunthorpe when I crossed paths with Hayley all those years ago. She was with two friends – one of them was called Heather I recall – and I asked if I could take some photographs, promising not to hold them up for too long. The resulting shot is one of my favourites – though ostensibly nothing more than a snap – which has, for me, a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ and it is appropriate that I conclude my project with it.

Considering that briefest of encounters, when I met Hayley at her home recently it was like meeting an old friend. She is incredibly easy to chat to, laughs a lot and for the life of me I can’t remember what it was we talked about. She shares her home with her partner and her son and there is a feel of comfort about the place: I remember lots of cushions, fabric, furniture you sink into and interesting things on the walls.

…cushions, fabric, furniture you can sink into…

At some stage of her life so far, Hayley felt she needed a break and decided on a six week trip to visit her uncle in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This sojourn was to lead to a vastly extended stay in the States. After meeting up with a travelling companion, Hayley took off for the city and lived in both New York and New Jersey. After meeting a guy and marrying him she moved north and spent the following 10 years in Rhode Island.

Hayley is now back in her home town and seemed very settled to me. She works as a community mental health nurse and works for the NHS in the Memory Assessment and Therapy Service.

Hayley, 2019

Closure: ’35 Years On’ (Part 5 of 6)

When I undertook my ‘street’ portrait project in 1984, I never thought I would be tramping the streets of Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire 35 years later, revisiting those I photographed…

Jonathan, 1984

Joanathan has been married – his wife works at the Royal Free Hospital in London – for 27 years and has a daughter who is currently studying film and media at university. I knew him quite well back in the eighties – we played in a band together – and it was great to catch up affter a 30-odd year interval. I remembered him as being a highly animated, enthusiastic and unconventional young man; nothing much has changed and our conversations ran at such a pace, and with such a diversity of topic, that it was difficult to make notes. Luckily, Jonathan provided some outline of his life to date by email:

‘My life is divided between living in London and Burton (editor’s note: a village near Scunthorpe). Bought a flat in Hampstead some years ago so I spend my free time propping up bars in and around Camden and going to gigs. But it’s great to catch up with family and friends in Scunthorpe too. Career-wise I have worked in engineering as a machinist/tool maker; it’s paid for the house and trappings but never really fulfilled the arty side of my personality. I’m now retired from that line of work.’

At the ‘local’: Burton upon Stather, 2019

Jonathan tells me that music has always been an important part of his life. He has always been a member of one band or another for the past 40 years and is now ‘a guitarist in 76 Calling playing anywhere and everywhere.’ He likes to collect vinyl records and is a great fan of record fairs, he also spends some leisure time on a narrow boat he owns. Having explored the canal systems of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, ‘Agincourt’ is now moored at Great Haywood in Staffordshire.

And the Scunthorpe scene all those years ago?:

‘I think fondly of the people I knew back then I think we were lucky to have such a vibrant music scene going on in such a small town. Everyone seemed to get off their arses and do something – whether it was a band, a fanzine or even a shop. If you weren’t playing then your mates were so you would go along and support them: superb. I favoured the Furnace Arms as I thought that place conjured up some great nights of pub rock!’

Jonathan, 2019
Carol, 1984

When I asked Carol – who I remember made all her own ‘going out’ clothes back in 1984 (including those in the photograph) – for her reflections on the past 35 years she answered: ‘I have worked hard and earned nothing’. I feel I, and probably many others, can second that statement…

It would be fair to say that Carol is an academic: she has taught and lectured on English Literature in Scunthorpe and marks papers for a major examination board. She works in a loft in her home – accessed by a ladder – and this provided the setting for my photograph. Carol is unmarried, has one daughter who has made her a grandmother (and me a grandfather, it would be fair to say) and enjoys walking with her dogs, a whippet and a lurcher.

Carol, 2019
Anita, 1984

At 13 years old, Anita was the youngest person I photographed for my 1984 project. Indeed, it was her mother – from whom I had gained permissions from at the time – who reminded her, after spotting a post from me regarding my 2019 plans, that she had taken part. Consequently, the decision to take part was made by Anita at the last moment but she very kindly drove the 30 miles to Cleethorpes just days before I left the UK.

Anita arrived with the youngest of her three daughters, Millie and we embarked upon a short expedition to find a location. After discovering that all three of the Turkish gent’s hairdressers on the main shopping street were unsuitable for one reason or another (well, I thought it a good idea, lol. And Anita is a hairdresser), we adjourned to the Cafe Baraka on the promise of an excellent fruit smoothie I had discovered a couple of weeks earlier.

Since 1984 Anita has worked in a London hotel and in a Scunthorpe sewing factory where she had a hand in providing Marks and Spencer with a finished article. She explained that she had turned to this work because she had wanted a car. Very mobile now, she works as a hairdresser covering the Scunthorpe area.

Anita, 2019

Closure: ’35 Years On’ (Part 4 of 6)

When I undertook my ‘street’ portrait project in 1984, I never thought I would be tramping the streets of Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire 35 years later, revisiting those I photographed…

Dave, 1984

At the 1984 location Dave was accompanied by his girlfriend, Karen. Now separated, they had three children and are now grandparents. Not long after that photograph was made, Dave settled down in Oxford and worked in the car industry. He returned to his home town of Scunthorpe and became an upholsterer, a career he pursued for 17 years. For the past 11 years, Dave has been a caretaker for the largest housing provider in North Lincolnshire.

Dave’s passion for all things ‘punk’ has never diminished: he still goes to many concerts featuring the heroes of the late seventies and early eighties, manages – as a quick glance at his facebook page will show – to be photographed alongside many of them and is an avid collector of records and memorabilia. He is truly a fan.

He’s a thoroughly amiable guy – if I had to describe him now I’d say, ‘happy go lucky’. I chose to make his photograph in a room that housed a vast number of vinyl records, cds and other ‘collectibles’ from the punk era. Then I noticed the t-shirt; seems like his allegiance to his favourite band, the Damned, has not faltered throughout the years…

Dave, 2019
Garry, 1984

I always felt, remembering him in 1984 as the front man of a popular local band – Harry the Spider’s Coming Out Party – that Garry was something of an entrepreneur. Speaking to him in a Scunthorpe pub recently – he had made the trip down from his home in North Yorkshire – I believe he still has that air about him. Certainly, he has not lost that ‘gift of the gab’ he had back in the old days.

Garry’s first taste of employment was as a welder for British Steel at Scunthorpe. He then studied mechanical engineering at university and embarked upon a career in that field. He is currently the Commercial Director of an instrumentation company.

We never got round to talking about music so I guess his days as an excellent frontman were his ‘finest hours’. Married with three sons, Garry maintains a lifelong love of football.

Garry, 2019
Helen, 1984

Helen studied nursing at Nottingham, returned to the Scunthorpe area and continues to work in that field. Married with a daughter, Helen enjoys family life and travelling with her husband, Jon; they have both done many of the UK music festivals. Helen is a keen gardener and, during my visit to her home, I managed a tour of the beautiful garden she had cultivated.

Helen also enjoys the company of her dog and this relationship provided me with my photograph…

Heelen, 2019

Many thanks go to those who agreed to take part in this project. 1984 photographs were made using a Mamiya 6×6 camera and the recent photographs were made using an Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II camera.

Closure: ’35 Years On’ (Part 3 of 6)

When I undertook my ‘street’ portrait project in 1984, I never thought I would be tramping the streets of Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire 35 years later, revisiting those I photographed…

‘Finch’, 1984

In 1984, Finch was a popular guy and he still is. He struck me as good humoured, with a realistic outlook on life. He gets on with stuff. Back in the day, Finch was a very active and innovative member of the local music scene; he still makes music and ascribes most of his meaningful friendships to it. His fond recollection of a popular local venue, the Crosby – now closed down – was particularly poignant, so much so that we went there and made some photographs.

Finch is a practical guy – a trait inherited, he says, from his father – and currently spends some of his spare time making improvements to his home; he tackles painting and decorating, plumbing and carpentry with a certain level of skill. He explained to me that all is done by himself, ‘out of necessity, really’. He was turning his attention to his loft space when I visited him so we took a look up there.

Finch (real name Kevin) currently works as a teaching assistant at a local school – he began his career in education as a school bus driver – and enjoys working with youngsters.

‘Finch’, 2019
‘Where meaningful friendships were formed’: ‘Finch’ at the Crosby, Scunthorpe
Sean, 1984

In 1984, Sean was studying teaching at Nottingham. He was an early years teacher for a number of years – focussed eventually on special needs – before setting off to broaden his horizons at schools in Hungary, Kenya, Brunei and the United Arab Emirates.

Sean is well known for his part as bassist in a popular local band, Harry The Spider’s Coming Out Party – the name taken from an early 1980s advert for chocolate – which he formed with his brother, Garry. (Talking about this stirred some good memories for me as, when Sean left the band to study, I became the band’s lead guitarist.) They famously appeared at the first ‘Scunthorpe Free Rock’ concert; an all day annual event put on for free by the local council and which ran for four years. Music is very important to him still and he writes and records his own material.

Sean is currently teaching in Scunthorpe.

Sean, 2019
Kev, 1984

Kev made a special trip into Scunthorpe to meet me and, after reminiscing about the old days – he is an excellent bass player and played with a couple of Scunthorpe’s more successful bands back in the eighties – we adjourned to a multi-storey car park.

Kev had explained that he was a video cameraman and commercial photographer and that his work – making induction films for companies and shooting motorsport, amongst other things – was primarily based in the UK but had taken him occasionally to europe and the USA. The one thing that struck me as I turned my camera on him was that he bore a resemblance to the songwriter, Brian Wilson. To me only it seems, as he had never been told that before. I’m not certain I got anything like I wanted from my camera, but it was great to meet up with him after all those years. He did take a portrait of me – the best I’ve ever had done – with such technical skill that it left me breathless.

Kev, 2019
Simon, 1984

Remembering Simon was a member of a popular local band in 1984, I asked if he had kept up his guitar playing. His response was that he had tried his hand at being a disc jockey and that the experience had ‘tarnished his love of music’. I move on to current interests and discover that he enjoys travelling and is a keen photographer. Then there is: Bridge.

I didn’t know that so many books had been written on Bridge – a popular card game of which I know little about, save that the four players involved are assigned the major compass points – but Simon has a lot of them; hundreds it seemed, glancing at a loaded bookcase. He has, in collaboration with another Bridge expert, designed another language of bidding (I was quite lost at this point, but impressed) called ‘Punk Precision’. Fair play to him. He has played Bridge at county level for both Wiltshire and Lincolnshire and likes to be assigned North or East.

Simon lives in a part of Scunthorpe much developed since the eighties – indeed, I could hardly recognise it – and enjoys family life. He is a draughtsman, a career he embarked upon 40 years ago and which he still pursues.

Simon, 2019

Many thanks go to those who agreed to take part in this project. 1984 photographs were made using a Mamiya 6×6 camera and the recent photographs were made using an Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II camera.

Closure: ’35 Years On’ (Part 2 of 6)

When I undertook my ‘street’ portrait in 1984, I never thought I would be tramping the streets of Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire 35 years later, revisiting those I photographed…

Paul, 1984

Paul – who enjoys family life – says he has spent the majority of the past 35 years ‘mostly bothering my wife’ who he met in South London in 1987 and with whom he has three children. Paul began a career in the electrical industry as an apprentice at the steelworks in Scunthorpe and is now Sales Director for a long-established electrical firm.

Paul is a percussionist who has ‘never not had a drumkit’ and he still plays regularly with a popular local band. In his spare time, Paul enjoys restoring classic motorbikes from the 70s and 80s. He works voluntarily for the Forge Project – a charity offering support for homeless and vulnerable people – in Scunthorpe, is a qualified football referee and took part in the Great North Run – the largest half marathon in the world which runs from Newcastle to South Shields and which attracts over 50,000 participants – over 10 succesive years. He admits that now his knees are ‘bolloxed’ he has to take his excercise a little easier.

Paul, 2019
Scott, 1984

‘I haven’t moved and I’ve done nowt’ was Scott’s initial response when I asked him what he’d been doing since 1984. From our conversation, however, he is clearly a settled and home-loving chap who is a career laboratory technician. He currently works for a Swedish mining company.

Scott, 2019
Sue, 1984

Since 1984 Sue has led a well-travelled life; she spent around 7 years in Amsterdam before busking her way through France, Portugal and Spain – where she tried her hand at fire juggling – living and working as she went. Since her return to the UK, Sue has held a variety of interesting and diverse jobs – manageress of a health farm in Brighton and lifeguarding in Bognor Regis among them – and currently works in the care industry.

Sue studied metalwork and jewellery in Sheffield and is a keen silversmith: she wore some excellent examples of her work for the recent photograph.

Sue, 2019

Many thanks go to those who agreed to take part in this project. 1984 photographs were made using a Mamiya 6×6 camera and the recent photographs were made using an OMD EM5 Mk II camera.

Closure: ’35 Years On’ (Part 1 of 6)

When I undertook my ‘street’ portrait in 1984, I never thought I would be tramping the streets of Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire 35 years later, revisiting those I photographed…

Tina, 1984

I found the conversations I had with the people I photographed absolutely fascinating – all had interesting stories to tell – and Tina’s story of her life since 1984 was one of them.
Tina joined the Danish Merchant Navy as a cook and, over a span of 16 years, worked her way up the ladder and finished her maritime career as first mate. She returned to her home town of Scunthorpe where she gained employment as a heavy fork-lift driver and subsequently a gantry crane driver for a firm of steel fabricators.
After 10 years as a child-minder, Tina recently began casual work in a school kitchen, working around her commitments to her son and her dogs.

Tina, 2019
Martin, 1984

While I was in Scunthorpe, Martin was taking a holiday with his family following a long tour of the US. He generously drove over to me on his return so I could include him in the project. What had he been up to over the past 35 years? He mailed me this statement:

‘In 1984 I was in a local Scunthorpe band and working at an agricultural supplies establishment. In my spare time, I worked at the Baths Hall (and other venues) for a local PA company as a sound engineer. Chance meetings of people ‘further up the ladder’ in the live concert side of the music industry whilst working at Scunthorpe’s Free Rock Festival gave me the opportunity to begin working nationally and internationally as a sound engineer and tour/production manager. So, I made a ‘career move’ and began living in Leicester and joined a team of like-minded people there. 35 years later, I am back living in a quiet Lincolnshire village and married with 2 children. I’m thankful for an amazing career that has taken me all over the world year after year, working for multi-million (record) selling artists of all kinds. I’ve visited places that in 1984 I would never have dreamed of and experienced life in a way that I never thought possible. My work has introduced me to musicians and comedians, tv and film celebrities, and hundreds of other ‘roadies’ – a lot of whom will remain close friends for the rest of my days. It’s not easy being away from home, family and friends for long periods of time and it’s not a life that suits everyone, but the rewards make it worthwhile and I don’t regret (much of) it at all!’

Martin, 2019
Jill, 1984

Jill is still as enthusiastic about life – always delivered with good humour and accompanied by an infectious smile – as I remember she was back in 1984. Her consuming interest nowadays is centred on ‘Steampunk’, a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.
Curiously, Jill explained to me that she had once made the headlines of a local newspaper when she ‘stole the Queen’s dog’. The sensational nature of that headline was a little misleading, though the dog she ‘liberated’ from conditions she felt were less than satisfactory was indeed from the same stock as the royal hounds.

Jill, 2019

Hope you enjoyed this first part of my project ’35 Years On’. The 1984 photographs were made using a Mamiya 6×6 camera and Kodak Tri-X film stock. Those taken during my stay in Scunthorpe in July 2019 were made using my OMD EM5 Mk II, coupled with a 12-40mm f2.8 Zuiko Digital lens. My sincere thanks to all who took part. I will leave you with a dedication to two guys who are sadly no longer with us:

Darren ‘Daz’ Lloyd: 1966 – 1997
Steve Empringham: 1964 – 1991

Chatuchak, Part 2: Vendors

Silent Laughter: 2017

My last blog took a look at the Chatuchak Weekend Market before the crowds descend. In this blog my interest is directed to those who work at this popular Bangkok tourist attraction.

Treasure Hunting at Chatuchak: 2017

Business had just begun when I made most of these photographs, the narrow alleys of the central section still quickly and easily negotiable. Some stalls were already trading while in others, vendors waited in anticipation of a successful, busy day.

A Moment of Meditation (Coffee Cup): 2017

Looking at this photograph, one thought always occupies me: ‘I wish that coffee cup had not been there’. And it is true; I toned it down a tad, to lessen the impact, but for me it remains – admitted in my title – and anyway, I only have the one shot. It remains a vendor in refective mood rather than: ‘A mildly irritated man who knows that a farang with a camera has just asked if he could move a coffee cup.’

Chatuchak Vendor: 2017

I waited for some time for the photograph above, but I sometimes get the feeling that something may happen to complete an image. In this case I was spotted, an occupational hazard that either works or doesn’t work. Following the moment I did enjoy some friendly banter – an occupational pleasure.

Vendor, Chatuchak: 2017

Speaking of conversations, I was talking to a grand old chap at one stall – his excellent English put my Thai speaking skills to shame – when he remarked as a parting shot: ‘yes, the market has many stories, many secrets’. I was on my way home but the vendor’s words got me thinking: untold stories? Hidden away? I wondered if they would ever reveal themselves.

Street Food Vendor, Chatuchak: 2017
Street Food Vendor, Chatuchak: 2017

The thousands of visitors Chatuchak attracts each weekend are well catered for, too. I tried the street food: delicious. Hot work when you consider the climate; well into the nineties usually. The lady above was able to engage with the few basic Thai pleasantries I offered, as was her assistant – also pictured above – sitting by her side.

Street portraiture has always interested me; it offers the chance to be a little in control and it presents the challenge of giving the resulting image relevance. I met a young man (portrayed below) outside a small, glass-fronted unit which was brightly lit to show off some very large paintings. We chatted and established the paintings were his work and he agreed to a photograph. I went outside to make the shot, the unit was too small to achieve the framing I felt I needed. What I didn’t anticipate was getting my hand in; by happy accident, in the right place… at the moment of exposure.

Artist With His Work, Chatuchak: 2017

Thanks for visiting my blog. For those who like to know, I used an Olympus OMD with a Zuiko short zoom lems to make the photographs.