Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Myself at 23....lost time...

This photo was taken by Philip Peacocke in approximately 1974. It was taken in the tearooms of the Auckland railway station. It was the time of Bertolucci's remarkable evocations of the 1930s. It was a time of conscious decadence. I am wearing a magnificent set of fox furs - rouge.
My nails were probably painted black. I would be smoking Sobranie. My friend Sally who was the arbiter of the fashionable subculture had supplied me with some pills. They sort of zoned me out. 

I sat down at the table, beside this elderly working man, eating alone. He did not look at me or speak. 

Now I am so much older myself I look at this photo and feel a kind of grief. I recognise that
young man, his extremities, his urgencies, his beautiful madness. But I also empathise with the old man, who maintained his dignity throughout. 

We would be passing through. He would die. In time, I myself would have to face the ogres of ageing. I would put aside the fox furs, the make-up, the elegant Sobranie.

The mirror would stare hard back at me.

But this moment, captured so beautifully by Philip Peacocke in 1974, captures a lost time....the kind of carelessness which is part and parcel of being young....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Red is the colour....

I’m now back home in Napier after an exhausting six weeks trying to teach creative nonfiction at a summer writing school at the University of Waikato. Boy, do I value my aimless days now that I don’t have to turn up for classes. While in Hamilton, aka Hamilhole, aka Tron, the city of the future, a friend sent me these images of graves in the old Napier cemetery. 

The red is from an Australian gum tree. I love the intensity of the colour. The fact is whenever I return to Napier I go for a wander in the old cemetery. This is when I feel I am back home. I feel centred. Everything else appears transitory and noisesome. I try and reach peace. 

These photos were taken by Jenny Horne. She is the daughter of Eric Lee-Johnson and I think she shares his remarkable photographic eye. Thanks, Jenny.