I'm drawn to cafes. I love my coffee but it's much more than that. Cafes are fascinating places to people watch, to photograph.
I tend to think of cafes as little microcosms of culture. Not necessarily of a country's culture; although there are obviously some stereotypes that can be wheeled out.
To the French, cafes are inextricably intertwined with everyday life. They are where life happens, where you meet, where you eat, where you watch and are seen. Italian cafes can often be much more practical - get in (if you can), drink up and get out. And no messing about with milk in your coffee, especially after lunch - it's espresso or niente. Often they're standing room only affairs.
It was early when I got the call. Way too early. Half asleep I slapped the trilling menace from its cradle and it landed with a crack on the maple of my bedroom floor. I picked it up.
“Moocjheenie”, I croaked.
“It’s happened again”, an electronic voice, altered, robot-like, “you know the drill”, then a click to dial tone.
I blinked the crust from my eyes and focussed on my watch; 3.16 a.m. and 23 seconds. A force of habit. In my line of work the difference between success and failure is so often in the minutiae.
It was the third call I’d received this week. All at the same unearthly hour. The fifth since the start of the month. The world’s celebrity chefs were disappearing, one by one. Kidnapped without ransom. I’d have an email waiting for me in my in-box, of that I was sure. Another stanza in a sick sonnet from one twisted puppy.
I'm an avid, but decidedly average guitarist. Growing up I was surrounded by friends who were wonderful guitarists. My high school seemed to produce them like an assembly line. I got plucked from the line by quality control at a very early age.
To this day many of my closest friends can still make a bunch of nylon, steel and spruce, sing like a bird. Despite all my efforts at learning, my music still sounds more like the wailing of an ebola victim than bird-song.
I started to pen a dark and moody piece about crossing Russia on the Trans Mongolian Railway during the depths of a Siberian winter.
Of how harsh the Russian climate can be at that time of year. Of how there's an austere beauty in the bleak solitude of her snow-blasted villages. A sense of resignation in the puffy faces of those station vendors, whose lives in which you play the most minor of roles.
In the end I thought stuff it, what's with all the poetic crap!
Born of the lack of a quality all you could eat restaurant in 1930's, depression-stricken London, the Astray Buffet first flung open it's doors on Fleet Street in 1931 (in the process, injuring a sleeping drunk who'd set up camp in the foyer, according to the Associated Press).
With it's prime locale — merely metres from the Royal Courts of Justice and a short stroll from the Headjob and Handbrake — the original Astray Buffet soon gained notoriety for all the wrong reasons. In short, those who could afford to indulge in it's delicacies — namely, the legal professionals and journalists that frequented that quarter of London — would never get the chance.
Done well, street photography can be a pretty confronting business. For most photographers there's a line that's difficult to cross when it comes to a poking a camera lens in where it's clearly not wanted. But for those who deliver some of street photography's most iconic imagery, that line's location is blurry at best; non-existent for some.
Gulp is a Sumo Science (Will Studd and Ed Patterson) produced, short film depicting the daily doings of a fisherman going about his fishy business.
Shot on location at Pendine Beach in South Wales - no pun intended - using a Nokia N8, it gained the Guinness World Record for the largest animation set, with some scenes measuring in at a whopping 1,000 square metres - that's 11,000 square feet for the metrically challenged.
Although the days of working for your passage hopping freighters are a thing of the past - a heavily specialised and unionised work force put paid to that - with a little planning and flexible travel dates, there aren't too many regions you can't now get to as a paid-up-passenger on board a cargo ship.
Me: So I'm thinking of giving this whole blogging thing a bit of a go. What do you think?
My Friend: A blog, what the hell for? Haven't you got like ten web-sites sitting out there silently gathering cyber-dust already? Why not re-vamp one of them?
Me: Because I want to write what I want to write, when I want to write it.