Those were hard times. The economy was about as wretched as it is today and there really seemed to be, as The Sex Pistols sang, no future.
But there was a future; one that took me away from all my expectations at the time into a different and, on the whole, rewarding life. In that smoky pub (back in the day when there was real smoke), I had not the slightest inkling that I might be spending my weekends chasing the waters of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers with my camera thirty years hence.
That just goes to show you that life itself is a river more mysterious and more meandering than the greatest twists of those vast Midwestern waterways. I wouldn't have it any other way; not now – even though what was to come seemed really quite frightening at that time, not least because it seemed so unknowable. There really is something to be said for taking the less obvious path and stepping away from whatever zone of comfort you happen to inhabit.
Sal, she always seemed to carry a heavy weight, expressed most often through her eyes. These were sometimes half-lidded, or, as in this picture, closed. Was she shutting out the world? I find it hard to imagine her moving far outside a particular southern English middle class way of living, fairly affluent and fairly cloying. But she may well have done precisely that – I cannot know.
Nor do I particularly wish to. There was a time when I felt it necessary to maintain ties with old friends, but that has past. I have my current friends, not that many, but an active group. I have my family.
I have my memories. Lots of memories, some as I alluded to in an earlier post, less than reliable. It's perhaps fortunate that I wrote down much of the more significant occurrences when they happened. Or nearly when they happened. And there are the photographs. Like this one.
A scan of a fading print, heavily biased towards red, that I was able to redeem using Gimp. New life infused into slow decay. I'm glad I took that shot – and I'm glad I saved the print. It remains extremely evocative both on its own terms and as a window into that distant past. Shining a little clarity onto those dusty recollections, but, these days, with a digital gloss. How I wished, way back then, for the type of portable and universally accessible record that this blog with its ability to embrace not just words but pictures and videos, provides. Now I have it.
I really cannot overestimate how this pleases me. It's a way of self-broadcasting, but one that is wholly on my own terms (at least as far as whatever shape the hosting, in this case My Opera, allows). As I do not rely on it for income, nor am I attempting to create some form of specialist log with preconceptions and limitations, I can use it to roam as far away or as near to me as I wish. It's freedom in its purist form.
Everybody's happy nowadays?
I am, but have not lost any appreciation for the irony of the exquisite song of that name. A recording entirely contemporary with that profile of Sal and one that is as apt a commentary on that photograph as anything I might write.
So here it is, musically slightly truncated, but worth it just to see the Buzzcocks on Top Of The Pops.