Two Beautiful.

A rough count of the people who have been good enough to be photographed for this project so far revealed a degree of sexual discrimination.  Not through any policy on my part of course, but nevertheless there have been more men than women featured.

Strange really, since you would think I would favour shooting beauty rather than the beast, yet I seem to find more of the latter.  Having reflected on the reasons for this I’ve concluded that it is a consequence of attitudes to being photographed.

Unless I have a particular topic in mind for the day I never go out looking to capture images of one sex over another, and I will generally approach anyone who I think will make a good picture.  The fact that more women than men have declined my offer may well play a part, but how much of that has conditioned me to expect a masculine “yes” and a feminine “no”?  If that is the case perhaps I’m giving off some air of negativity to women that exacerbates the situation.

This week though I have been fortunate in photographing some beautiful women who can help to redress the balance, and even then there has been a spectrum of responses.  Men who I approach tend to say “go for it” or words to the equivalent and stand upright ready for the shot.  When I photographed Jo on Monday, surprised as she was that I had asked to photograph her at a bus stop, she was prepared to move and pose to suit me.  By contrast when I shot Sita on Wednesday, although she knew me well and was keen to pose as requested, her nervousness made her a far less compliant subject.

Today I experienced two different attitudes.  Hayley is a photographer’s dream.  She’s slim, attractive, wanted to be photographed and was comfortable enough in front of the camera to take direction easily.  How could I fail to capture her beauty?  (Actually with more time, and the option to try some different locations to counter the bright sunlight I might have got more, but that’s not really how this project works).

I met Hayley at the school where Gill my wife works as she was there for some practical experience and I was running a short session on photography for some of the pupils.  I don’t know her well, but I can’t wait to photograph her wedding next year based on working with her today.  She’ll be stunning and a dream client.

I was a little early arriving at the school so waited a few minutes in the school office where I photographed one of the school administrators as she was answering the phone.  She was too busy to pose, but had no fear of the camera.  Unlike Hayley her attitude was one of tolerance rather than enthusiasm.  Still got a nice picture of the old “Trouble & Strife” though.  Guess which is which?  😉


Back in the jug agane*


When I finished my stint as a part-time tutor in July, it was in the expectation that I would be returning to the college this month in a full-time role and beginning formal teacher training.  Well as it turns out that will be one road not travelled – the full-time role evaporated in budget review and I’m now working for a consultancy who are proving lots of work and much closer at hand.

Consequently I’m the only member of the household not bound up the education calendar.  Megan of course has been back at Uni for a couple of weeks; not because her studies are underway, there’s still a couple of weeks before such matters need concern her, but because she has the dual enticements of a house shared with friends and a boyfriend a couple of streets away.

In Gill’s role as a school administrator she has been over the school threshold occasionally during the holidays, but the mêlée didn’t begin in earnest until today when the school office becomes a mass of queries about dinner money and uniforms.

For children of course this is the one day of the year when they are likely to be in a pristine uniform, with a new pencil-case, virgin notebooks and shiny shoes, particularly if they are changing school and aren’t yet up to speed with the limits of acceptable uniform transgressions.

Whilst Holly as a sixth former is way too cool to be seen to give this too much attention there was an air of excitement today as she when off to meet new teachers, new class mates and to navigate a new environment.  Uniform doesn’t really describe the dress code that she must adhere to now, most of the rebellions will be about make-up and skirt length no doubt, nevertheless she looked pretty good when she left today.

I’m only glad she hasn’t begun her Physics studies by reading How to be Topp: A Guide to Sukcess for Tiny Pupils, Including All There is to Kno about Space*

*Molesworth books by Geoffrey Whilans and Ronald Searle – written when I was a boy!


A safe pair of hands?

For a little while now my HP Pavilion laptop has been overheating, a fairly common problem if you scratch the surface of the vast swathes of internet forums where people with IT problems seek the help of those with the right expertise.   I suspected the problem was with the fan as it was making lots of noise almost constantly, and then it would occasionally crescendo further as a precursor to shutting down altogether.  I was already frustrated with the machine as the power lead has a tendency to work its way out so the overheating was an unwelcome addition to my issues with it.

Today was the day to take action.

I’d taken the bottom panel off some time ago in an attempt to find and clean the fan, but there was no immediate sign of it, so rather than blunder in mindlessly I carefully put it back on and hoped for the best!  Naturally the problem continued.

Further online research revealed that it was necessary to go much further in my search for fan access.  I found some useful videos that pointed me in several of the right directions and told me to allow a couple of hours for the job.

This time I was more successful and reached the fan, which was disappointingly not solid with dust and fluff, but I did manage to clean it with some of the tools I use for my camera and began the reassembly, which is when I spotted the tiny cluster of half a dozen severed wires.  Hmmm.  Not to worry, reassemble (twice, since I forgot to reattach the keyboard wiring before screwing it all together) and fingers crossed.

Powered up OK, internet access working, just the touchpad that doesn’t want to know me.  Strange since the offending wires were nowhere near that!  Nevermind, connect up a mouse and we’re back in business.  Fan seems to be running quieter, and whilst the machine is still hot, I haven’t any third degree burns as yet.

With all of these adventures in engineering I haven’t had much opportunity for pictures today.  There was a beautiful black pharmacist on Sea Road this morning, but with so many people in there she was rushed off her feet and doubtless wouldn’t have liked the audience.  One for the future maybe.

I wasn’t worried though because today I had a back up plan.  With the schools closed for Easter, my wife was entertaining a couple of her school friends today, and Caral (Caz to her friends) hasn’t appeared here yet despite being a regular reader and critic of the blog.

Now being a teacher, Caral is a pillar of the community and was concerned about the image that she presented “You can’t see my boobs can you?” got things off to a good start, as she had an audience consisting of my daughters and another colleague from school, Joey.  With some difficulty I managed to get a couple of shots between the corpsing and here they are.  Caral’s surname is Hands by the way which is doubtless where the title of this blog came from.

Or was it this?  Pillar of the community?

My boy lollipop*

On the days that I travel into Darlington quite early, I frequently pass two similarly attired women on North Road.  Dressed in long coats of high-viz yellow, which in case anyone should miss them are augmented by matching hats, they carry oversize black tennis racquet bags slung across their backs.

They are not however exponents of some new ball game with a complete disregard for fashion, out to bag the court before anyone else (though it would be amusing to see them trying to play with these “racquets” and trying to run in their long ungainly coats).  They are a School Crossing Patrol, dressed to ensure that they are visible to motorists, and the bags they carry contain their “lollipops“; long poles with a round sign attached, used to stop the traffic.

When I was young, these lollipops were constructed of a single long pole, which the lollipop man or lollipop lady would carry home with them on foot at the end of their shift.  They were far too long to fit into most vehicles.  Modern lollipops now break down into something more portable and pack away like a sniper’s rifle.

A London "lollipop lady" with St. Pa...
A London "lollipop lady" with St. Paul's Cathedral in the background (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The idea of the patrol developed in the UK in the 1950’s (though they also exist in Australia), but it was in the 1960’s that the term “lollipop man” was coined following a successful road safety campaign featuring a ventriloquist whose dummy used the phrase, although lollipop ladies are just as prevalent.   It seems strange that as children we were warned against accepting sweets from strangers, but then expected to befriend one who was associated with a lolly!

The round sign at the end of the pole instructs motorists to “Stop” and carries either the word or a symbol for children, and between these is a wide black stripe.  Apparently the intention of this element was to allow patrol men or women to record, with a piece of chalk, the registration numbers of any motorist who refused to stop.  I have never ever seen this done, and wonder if any of our numerous lollipop men and women who patrol our roads today even carry chalk.

The lollipop man who patrols the crossing at the school where I run my photography club is not stranger to having his photograph taken.  In a competition run by local paper The Sunderland Echo he was named School Crossing Patrol of the Year a couple of years back, and has featured in other local press stories too.  John Plumb who originates from  Plymouth (that would be a long walk with a lollipop) has even had a song written in his honour – though it wasn’t the one that is the title to this blog.

Viewing the images of him that have appeared in the press, I didn’t feel that the quality did justice to this special individual.  I hope he likes the picture I took today.  Wish I’d asked him about the chalk though!

*”My boy lollipop” was written in the 1950’s, but became a huge UK hit in the 1960’s when recorded by Millie.  (I’ve never liked it because you can’t get it out of your head – even now!)