Thursday, 14 November 2013

Day 318 : memories and taxi cabs

Tonight I'm off to Vauxhall to attend a reunion. There might be people there I haven't seen for 20+ years so it could be an interesting night. As my taxi wends through the city we notice the London Eye is all lit up in blues and reds, I don't know if it’s for Prince Charles’ big birthday but for whatever reason, it looks most striking tonight. I want to try and capture it but we can't get the angle without swerving in the traffic or doubling back, which I doubt want to do. I figure I've missed the moment so wonder about further inspiration.
Being in the back of a black cab and feeling all nostalgic with the Virgin reunion coming up, I have a sudden vivid flashback. When we took over the Smithers and Leigh store at Marble Arch it became a bit of an experimental Virgin Megastore. Smithers and Leigh hadn't really been in existence for very long but they had grand plans and a large abandoned shop. In Virgin @ Marble Arch we launched a NFL American football store, XS our cherry-picked accessories, a photo lab and were the second store in the country to introduce E.P.O.S. For those who missed this incredible evolution in retail, I'm referring to electronic point-of-sale i.e. scanning barcodes at the till.
Having the photo lab gave us a new group of creative people and it got me back into photography. I had my ’proper’ camera for a few years but had become a little disheartened. I was lucky we had such facilities as I could get cheap film processing and printing by people who were sympathetic to my extraordinarily variable efforts (i.e. technically challenged)! I used to hang out with a couple of the guys and occasionally used to stay either at A’s enviable Neal Street fabulous fifties flat with the spiral staircase and a parachute silk ceiling or P’s super trendy Hackney House inhibited by an artistic bunch who were at St. Martin’s College of Art (yes, very Pulp!). They had a old dentist chair in the lounge and had randomly and, clearly memorably, decorated the bathroom with kingfisher blue Hammerite! No-one in my immediate circle of friends had been so exotic and arty. One of the girls’ jobs, who sadly I cannot recall the name of, was to make giant models of everyday objects (for someone impressive, possibly for the BBC). Two of the boys were working on a film project. They'd procured a black cab and installed a camera in the back. The idea was to record little vignettes of the passengers. I'm sure this wasn't candid camera but they'd been searching for suitable candidates to make interesting little films. I'm pretty positive I never saw the completed work but I do recall sitting around with the artistically inspiring people, drinking wine and talking about how we were going to change the world. It took me many years to move from mere dabbling to an obsession with photography but I think my brush with all that creativity and vision possibly sowed the seed.
Tonight, so many years later, I'm in the back of a black cab, clutching my camera and decide I need to capture the moment. By playing around with focus I get some interesting bokeh with the lights of the surrounding traffic and street, a good vibrant memory! Maybe tonight will generate more!


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