An Imagined Country takes as its starting point some fragmentary images, and a story, that continue to haunt me. Read more

Always Somewhere Else

 

Always Somewhere Else draws together our journey across the USA. It engages with the road as metaphor and the motel as a significant figure in the landscape, as well as being culturally important. A central element is the idea of the road as place, shifting and dynamic in its relationship with its associated roadside landscape.
Serendipity and the chance encounter are central, as well as an attentiveness to, and awareness of the richness of ordinary lives.

Edited during autumn 2011 & first screened at Cinecity Film Festival, November 2011
Brighton
UK

Connecting

A Rosary, the wooden beads polished with use. A small thin blue leather case, My Rosary still visible on its cover. Scant reminders of a life.

Ingrid, still in her early 50s, has been homeless for several years, rough sleeping for a lot of that time. She talks about down sizing, but maybe going a little too far.  Grins when she points to the skip she’s presently living in. Ingrid talks about owning a house, having a mortgage, mentions other problems too.  We walk with her as she does her nightly rounds checking on other rough sleepers, those people who have truly become invisible, off the radar, no agencies dealing with them; knows their problems, understands the solutions, is angry that no one listens, no one sees or cares.
She tells us about the importance of things, of possessions, the importance of possessing very little; what you can get in a rucksack, nothing more, everything else superfluous.
For Ingrid, the road signifies freedom, the desire to simply wander, find a place to sleep, wake up, carry on. Knows days without, doesn’t talk about going hungry, just not eating.

Read More »

Letter to Michael

I remember that we passed you 3 times, each time at a different place as Denis drove round in circles trying to find the liquor store he had seen and wanted to film. He’s never very good with his sense of direction, even worse when driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road!

I recall wondering if you were homeless, why you would be wandering around this particular place, in this desert heat, another strung out wilderness of fast food outlets and parking lots next to the highway, alongside the railroad track. Read More »

Beginnings: Notes from Coney Island

Layers of memory entangled; between a damp, British November & the August heat of Coney Island.

Tuesday 30th August 2011

Echoes of The Warriors, as the dawn rises, the pier at the end of the boardwalk, the now derelict tower; Ulysses returned, safe but changed.

The Warriors had been one of my strongest images as we travelled the New York subway through to Coney Island, a New York of my imagination, necessarily recalled to frame the reality in front of me. This was my Imagined Country, not Denis’s. His, populated through his father’s fragmentary tales, mine vague & unframed by anything other than film/novels. Read More »

Iron Street Farm

6th & 7th September
Chicago
Milwaukee
USA

Edited & posted
10th October
Brighton
UK

Roxanne’s story Earthworks 2

2nd September
Earthworks Urban Farm, a project of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
Detroit.
USA

Edited & posted
9th October
Brighton
UK

Earthworks 1

2nd September
Earthworks Urban Farm, a project of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
Detroit.
USA

Edited & posted
9th October
Brighton
UK

 

Returning

He left little in the way of material possessions: a Rosary, I have it with me now, always have, his name written in ink on the inside flap of its leather carrying case: faded, gone now. But I know it was there, his name. And stories.

Thinking back now, thinking back to the way imagination would fill the gaps. He’d say, ‘Listen, now here’s a curious thing’, and off he’d go, get distracted, pick up a stone, maybe find coins to supplement the Dole: it seemed we were always on the beach then, taking the dog for a walk, beachcombing.  ‘Where was I? No matter,’ and maybe the story would take a different turn. He’d grin, ‘Just forgotten that now, haven’t I? Whatever, as long as it flows and there’s a truth at the heart of it, what’s the problem with a few bits made up here and there along the way?’ Read More »

Thinking Landscape

Mojave Desert 18th September

Now no longer only, but still in some way an imagined country. Standing on this desert road I hear you, remember the rhythm of your slow quiet voice; America inflected through Cumbria.

Three locomotives hauling never-ending carriages, stretching like the road, on into the heat haze.  On an impulse we both wave as the locomotives pass. Three short whistle blasts almost immediately absorbed: we’re left listening to the rhythm of the carriages trundling across this vast land. It’s here in this moment in the fleeting sound, at first piercing then all too quickly fading, that I sense something of you. Remember how you’d begin to talk about this land, these desert colours. Pause, Sit silently. Leave me to imagine what wasn’t spoken. But most of all it was the road, this road, cracked and dry, crossing this ancient land; a migrant route. Read More »

Street Life-4

Back in Brighton feeling jet lagged from two days flying, 1st to New York and then to the UK.

Thinking about San Francisco, about Jimmy selling the Street Sheet.

Saturday 24th September: we’re in a queue waiting to pay for a snack. Outside I watch a man, maybe in his late 40s, it’s difficult to tell, but with that same weathered face, ragged clothes, carrier bags. He rummages through the bin next to the door, extracts an open box, rams the remnants of a burger into his mouth, walks away. People sitting in the cordoned area around the cafe eat, talk.

Jimmy’s standing in a doorway next to the cafe selling the Street Sheet. We talk.

‘I ain’t homeless. Not me. Just selling this to help them, help the homeless.’

We talk about life on the street, about the number of people we’ve seen in wheelchairs, the number of amputees.

‘Been here twenty six years. Too long. I’m from Newark, Newark New Jersey, been here too long. Going back the Newark next month, can’t take this place no more. Y’see Newsom? He ain’t done nothing for the homeless. I ain’t staying here.’

The suggested donation for the Street Sheet is $1. I buy a paper. He wants to give me two.

‘Here, one for the lady too. No, here, take it take it.’

And I have to. We talk about the L law.

‘Lying, sitting? That don’t do nothing. L, what’s that do for the homeless. what’s Newsom done with this stopping folks lying, sitting on the street? They don’t do nothing for the homeless. You get fined, they’re on the streets, how they gonna pay the fine?’

We talk some more, and then he wanders off and I go back to my coffee, my salad.

28th September
Brighton
UK