Sunday, April 01, 2012

Keep Them Moonbeams Short

Greetings and Good Morrow to you if you are of a human nature! This fine dawn greets another working week and for those of you wending your way off to the coal face, my sorrow goes with you. As for me, it is a public holiday (and it is going to be raining apparently) so I shall put my feet up and enjoy several pots of tea.
If you aren't sentient and made of flesh, my greetings still go to you too; in fact if you are a 'bot: 1010000111110010101010111100101010101010001010101001010000000111011010101010 to you!

The subject of this FB is all to do with thinking something is one way when it might actually be another.
To wit, the above title alludes to a misheard lyric.
Genesis' single, 'I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)' is a track I have loved from afar for many years, without ever owning. I never owned it, because at my school, everyone loved them, and there I was (for my sins) a lowly Mott the Hoople fan*.
I stood out like a sore thumb and as such, in a fit of teenage pique, I decided that the band weren't for me. This was typically stupid because actually, they were a rather unique group and I should have liked them. My loss was further hammered home when I saw the 'Prog At The BBC' programme recently with that fabulous footage of Peter Gabriel operating the cosmic lawnmower. In a word it was superb, and I thought why don't I own that album, so, feeling like having a spend (and locking the ranting, teenage me, in a cupboard) I bought a copy of Selling England By The Pound from HMV . . none of your download nonsense here!
Marvellous I thought, at last I can hear it on my own lovely stereo.
'Keep Them Moonbeams Short' is just a wonderful use of words, and like all great lyrics it evokes imagery that one cannot put ones finger on at all:
The lad in the song cuts grass and is exhorted to grow up, move to the city and start making money, but he doesn't want to because he is happy in his work.
Oh the simple life, I thought, this is like art! How wonderful.
Art should be pure and have integrity, just like his grass cutting. 'Moonbeams' would tie in with his artistic nature. He mows by night making an incredible job, as short blades of grass are transformed by moonlight into a thing of great beauty. 
Guff and airy-faeryness I know, but that is the beauty of a good lyric. It takes one's own inner thoughts and helps transform them.
However I was to land on the well-mown, moonlit grass with a serious bump when I read the actual lyrics: 'Keep Them Mowing Blades Sharp'.
Thud.
Now actually I am not really sure if that is the correct lyric, because:
a./ On the record, it sounds like 'Keep Them Moonbeams Short'.**
and
b./ 'Keep Them Moonbeams Short'  is a much better lyric.***
But who knows, maybe Jacob (I assume that is the mower's name) is a craftsman and not an artist after all - I suppose that would make sense. But there goes that Arts v Crafts thing again . . .

When I was very, very small, my Mum would push me around in an old pushchair. It wasn't one of the lightweight marvels you get today . . oh no . . . this was solid and heavy and we used to go for long walks. It was a happy and simple time for Mum, because she liked walking and talking to people, and for me because I was with my Mum, we were happy and we might be going to the shops! 
When it was raining, she would haul out a very old plastic rain cover and fit it over the front.
The transparency of plastic is very much taken for granted on such things these days, but back in the early 60's (and prior to that) it was far from the case. Plastic was a relatively expensive material and what I remember of that rain cover is a world painted translucent white and often streaming with rain. It was hard to see through and my small, happy world was transformed; but the sound of Mum saying 'Bother!' (as the pushchair took on the form of a ship's sail) and the steady drumming of water against the cover as we struggled along, have left their mark.****
I think maybe my current fascination with things seen and unseen, with reflections and ephemera, have, in a small way, their very roots in those journeys from my early life.






The above photo is strangely mysterious to me. It implies either that someone has just hurried by and you don't know where they have gone, or else they could be about to come rushing up those stairs (but only so long as you turn your back and walk away). In a way it is a misheard lyric of a photo, because it isn't at all what it seems, or is it really?
The interpretation is all yours and God bless you.
It was made on Fomapan 100 roll film, developed in Barry Thornton's 2-bath developer. The camera was Oly the Rollei, using the 16-on kit, so essentially the negative size is nominally 6x4.5cm.
Oh and thanks go to John Blakemore for his book and his ideas on the exploration of print tonality.
I've never met John, but if he's around these parts he's more than welcome to come in for a cup o'tea and a blether.
Remember, if you want to be a photographer, you must become both things: Artist and Craftsman.

* The greatest Rock and Roll band Britain has ever produced.
** Of course it is 'Keep Them Mowing Blades Sharp' - listening carefully it is quite apparent.
*** Also sounds like 'Keep Them Moon Blades Sharp' which is an even better choice of words!
**** A misheard memory. I recently found a picture of said push chair. The seat faced the pusher and there was a large hood attached to the back. However I can work out from this that you were totally able to put a rain proof cover over the front of it, in other words between me in the chair, and Mum who was pushing.

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