Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Tuesday April 28 2009

Not entirely sure what all this blogging is about to be honest, but trying to keep an open mind against an instinct that says otherwise....
Anyway, introductions first. I'm Jim, I am a photographer andI run a marketing service to other wedding photographers around the world from the US, across Europe and down to Australia and South Africa. I live in Brighton, England and grew up in London, moving here nearly ten years ago when the family outgrew our London home and astronomical prices set us a new course.
Brighton is an ok place to live, it is liberal, interesting, has some great Victorian architecture, the lovely south downs which I now run photography courses on, and has just achieved National Park status, and the lovely English Chanel lapping on the shingle beach. It's a photographer's paradise to be honest, but it's not London, the greatest City on earth. For all that Brighton has going for it,andmaybe it is because I am from London, I do find it stifling at times, a little too provncial for my liking and very white middle class. Boringly bourgousie even at times. Pleasant enough of course and a good place to raise children, a good music scene and plenty of friends too so it's certainly not somewhere I want to move from either. Anyway, where would I go? France appeals at times.
The Brighton Festival is fantastic, and I must do more to get involved. I had a photography exhibition a couple of years back the got picked up by the BBC and it was very successful mostly. And I do love the Downs, I dont much care for the shopping centre but the Laines and North Laine are still quite exceptional with a range of independent shops, although international coffee shops and government business rates seem determined to squeeze them all out and hope to replace their charm with homogonised cultural nonsense. Give me the (closed down) Kite Shop, Bonsai Tree shop, Vegeterian Shoe Shop and Sixties clothes shop (not that I can possibly get into any of the sharp suits these days) over yet another effing Starbucks anyday.
I think I need to spend more timein the Capital and then I might fall in love with Brighton again as it is, for me at least, too small to be here 7 days a week.
Well, this is quite cathartic...is this why people blog? Sometimes you just have to work out things, or at least carve out some time to think and work out what is going on. With a young family and a business to run that isn't always possible.
So that's me; I moan alot, and grumble, i'm critical without cause, and dont get into London often enough. :-) Photographically I'm looking for a new project and need to finish off one or two alsoo. I need to go and spend some time in Egypt which doesn't appeal at all but I have been working on a project about the long forgotten Suez War back in the 50's. My fahter was posted their in the RAF as an Engineer and unlike so many others who didn't make it home again, made a big success of himself at IBM UK. Like every other ideaI tend to start at the front and work my way backwards through it to a conclusion. Originally I wanted to recordportraits of the men that survived and to record their stories because there is so little information out there from a UK perspective; it was a national humiliation and most wanted to forget it. My thinking on it is surely anything that costs hundreds of British lives needs recording properly, and examining, considering and presenting in various forms from differing angles if the next generations are to lern anything. The economic collpase shows we are not very good at learning all bubbles must burst, andthat doesn't bode well for a peaceful future for the next generation. Anyway, I've come to the conclusion the war at Suez was futuile, as so much war is, and it would be interesting to go and record elements of the landscapes, canal, it's people, to consider what exactly so many died for. The conflict at its apex, much a personality clash between Eden and Nassar on a national scale, brought the end ofBritish Empire as it was known, allowed the US to flex its muscle as the new World sominant power, defined the French independent nuclear programme outside Nato,and most alarmingly brought menacing threats from Kruschev stating 'London and Paris should not be suprised to find atomic bombs falling on them'. It was no suprise then, with the wider picture available, that the US stepped in and strong armed Britain and France out of Egypt. The Russians, seeing a vacuum coming, had started todeploy the new, as they were then, Mig fighter planes and had started to train Egyptian pilots in how to fly them. The British and French fleets had been at considerable risk as nobody seemed to know how far Egyptian flying training had gone. No one expected the Rusians to attack on Egypts behalf but nor did anyone know for certain that the Egyptians did not have the capacity to attack regardless.

And why does this matterI hear you ask? Because the official line still goes that only 23 lives were lost at Suez, but thegraveyards at Fayed hold the bodies of 1200 British servicemen who died in Egypt, defending the Canal, which was considered a vital strategic oil route forBritain, between 1940 and 1956. I wasn't even there and I know reliable of at least 7 people who died there. My interest I guess is that as my father could have been one to not come home, it really is a part of my heritage. And I want to go and see what our nations fought for, and whether it was as futile and inept as I suspect.
The Veterans Group go out there each spring still to honour the dead, and are now treated like kings by their old Egyptian foes. The UK Governmenthad consistently refused to issue medals for Suez until a very few short years ago so the Egyptians,disgusted with the UK's treatmentof its own fighting men, now treat them like royalty, with a guarded police escort everywhere they go, banquets, social events and generally making them as comfortable and welcome as they possibly can. What a shame our Governments cannot learn something from these men. Little more than 50 years ago these men would have killed each other onsite. Nasser's Army had gatheredon the hills 5 miles from the Fayed and had threatened topush the British into the Canal. And here they are ensuring an old foes comfort and safety in their land. It's quite amazing and deserves a far greater examination than has occurred so far. To ensure those lost are not forgotten, but also to ensure we do not keep making the same mistakes about war in the region. In 1955 I believe, the Tigris in Bagdhad burst it's banks flooding the City and driving inhabitants out into the harsh desert as refugees in their own country. These same chaps in the RAF flew sorties over Bagdhad dropping tents and blankets to help the civilians cut off by floods or exposed to survivng in the deserts. 50 years on many were visibly upset at the thought we were about to embark on bombing sorties of Bagdhad. So I wonder how strange the world will seem to my generation in 50 years time too. Anyway, enough for now. I must get to Egypt, but I must also sleep.
More later, another time.