Shooting Fences

Tanvir Naomi Bush Uncategorized 7 Comments

Over the past couple of weeks I have started at least five blog posts…I tried writing about my interview at Bath Spa University, the week of training workshops in London, the film I saw the other night, the fact that my local supermarket has started selling the incredibly delicious bison grass vodka for a mere £15 a bottle.
But no matter what I wrote I have felt it to be silly and weak. My writing has been sulking.

Stumped on Saturday I went to visit my dear friend C, 88 years old blind and partially deaf with razor sharp wit and vampiric astuteness. We had been talking for about ten minutes when she stopped me and leant in close to my face, peering.

‘You look ten years old today,’ She said.

Amazed I realised that that was how I felt. Confused, baffled by the world, child-like. Not in control of my destiny.

‘I have writer’s block.’ I said.

She nodded and patted my hand.

How did she know that?’ I wondered.

C is pretty remarkable. Previously I had been telling her about my hopes and fears for the workshop I thought I might be facilitating, teaching blind and visually impaired people in London about photography and last week she suddenly announced that she wanted to have a go.

‘I keep seeing fences I want to shoot.’ She told me firmly.

Given that C is marvellously fierce I wasn’t sure if she meant with a camera and breathed a sigh of relief when she accepted a trial with my digital point-and-shoot Sony as opposed to me having to go out and score her a Colt revolver.

We went for a walk around the block. She gripping her wheeled Zimmer frame with my camera slung around her neck and shoulder like a gun.

‘There.’ she said. ‘I don’t know why I need to take its picture but just look at it. It…it ..makes me …’

She couldn’t finish but she didn’t need to. We both stood blinking at it.

The white picket fence gleamed in the sunlight- all sharp lines and severity. A dark shadow stretched tentatively from a nearby tree edging into the open gate.

In our conversations we often touch upon how dispossessed she feels by age and mostly by her deafness. How people talk across her, tell her what to do, what she can do, pat her and tell her ‘you’re a good girl’ when she is an 88 year old woman.

And this picket fence seems to capture something in its bright perky rigid gleaming.

She felt the edge of the fence to get an idea of distance and balancing the camera as we had practiced on her chest she took a couple of shots. Then we discovered the Zimmer frame had a seat so she could sit and get a lower angle.

C can only manage the walk around the block but in that short 40 minutes we saw so much and as the light in that soft, spring afternoon changed so everything changed. I knew we could come back here a hundred times and each photograph would be different.
Back at the house we were both energised and inspired. I rushed home to load the pictures on to my computer and I asked her if I could show you all couple.

The beginning of some really remarkable dialogue with light and emotion I think.

Thanks C.

(c) C. Rawlinson 2009

Comments 7

  1. what a beautiful post tanvir! i know that writer’s block..whatever you write you think, oh blah who cares what;s the point…but does everything have to have a point? isn’t there something remarkable in the pointless? and from that comes a BEAUTIFUL poignant piece of writing like you’ve just done. LOVED this….lots love always xxx j

  2. Post

    Thanks so much Janelle..sometimes it is just a case of waiting for a ‘frame’ to write within if that makes sense..its like trying to fold a sheet thats too full of static sometimes!

    Hi Lulu and yes and ‘phew!’

    Welcome gigihawali. She certainly is courageous although she doesn’t realise it! I keep telling her!

    Hi Geenwords and thank you too! I see you both have blogs too so shall come over for a visit!
    Tanvir (Chimera)

  3. Amazing how something as ordinary as a fence can be so symbolic for the right people: for someone else it might be a window or a tall tree or a curving road, but when it happens, oh yes, photography is a great thing.

    You know I laughed when you mentioned the Colt revolver. You held up her personality in the light and it just shines there; I love her after reading about your afternoon with her.

    Now tell Writer’s Block to piss off and leave you alone. The funniest thing is that when you write a lame/crap/nothing post and hit the ‘publish’ button anyway, I swear sometimes those turn into the ones that people like best. It annoys me no end (when I think of how hard I’ve worked on the others!) but sometimes it’s true.

    Let nothing stop you. A simple photograph will do–yours really do say a thousand words, and then more.

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