South London Photographer: Dede’s 70th Celebration and Fundraiser

When I was living out my extended adolescence during the 90s and ‘noughties’ I had what you might call an absurd yearning to have been born during a different era. I say absurd because there really is no point yearning for something quite so impossible; surely it would be better/less crazy to utilize one’s time dreaming about something more plausible, like flying to another planet for instance.

I wished with quite a lot of energy that I had been about when it was all flower power, peace, love and being infatuated with Jim Morrison. I had this (thinking about it now) really quite embarrassing Janice Joplin affectation going on. Ridiculous, if only because, even if I had been about then, chances are I would have been working in Boots or something and not sitting about in a field at Woodstock staring at the pretty colours in the sky. Not that there is anything wrong with working at Boots – in fact, I’m sure I went for an interview when I was 17 to do just that (I ended up at Pizza Hut instead though). Nevertheless I have always been somewhat envious of people who lived (and loved) through that time and actually experienced it. But the point is, my fantasy was all about a fairly hedonistic, self-absorbed paradigm which would probably have landed me in a rehabilitating or psychiatric institution at some point.  If indeed it had been at all possible to get in a time machine and find myself living during another decade. And also ridiculous, as the reality is that the 70s hippie ideal was a lot more altruistic than my fantasies were.

Dede, whose 70th birthday celebration I photographed last week, told us in a very informal and lovely speech all about how she arrived in London aged 22 from North America with not much more than her guitar, which of course was covered in flowers. Before long she had hooked up with an amazing bunch of people who hailed from all over the world, including South Africa (where I grew up), and formed a band called the Solid British Hat Band. The songs they sung were absolutely NOT about lying around selfishly in a muddy field pretending to be a pixie (I’ve abandoned such notions, now, honest… not to have done so would be quite ludicrous, wouldn’t it?). Instead they were about protecting the world in which we live. In fact Dede and her band mates, one of whom has been her husband for a pretty amazingly long time, sang songs from their albums Mister Monday and Goodbye Rainbow at the party and it was so interesting to hear the very contemporary themes, warning of the damage we humans do to the world and reminding people to take care.

Today Dede continues to care passionately about her world and is standing as a candidate representing the National Health Action Party in her home borough of Fulham, a group which is currently fighting the proposed selling off of Charing Cross Hospital. Fulhamites can vote for Dede on the 22nd March and help send a strong message to the powers that be.

Dede used her 70th to publicise this cause and others and I can only say that she seems like a pretty wonderful woman. I really enjoyed listening to the Solid British Hat Band doing their thing in central London last week and chatting with some of Dede’s friends afterwards.

So, of course, I didn’t grow up in the 60s and certainly wasn’t part of any hippie revolution, and never arrived anywhere with not much more than a guitar covered in flowers. Instead my extended adolescence took place later, but even so I spent my time listening to Bob Dylan and Janice Ian pretending otherwise. For some reason, and always a bit behind the times, I have recently been catching up with my own generation and listening to Radiohead a lot, which is from my era. Son No 1 told me off for having it on too loudly in the car and Son No 2 was appalled by the expletives on the Pablo Honey album.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t listen to this when you’re in the car,” I said.

He greeted my mother with “You’re so f-word special….”

He said f-word and not the ‘f’ word, I’m relieved to say. The fact that he does know it’s out of bounds and stays within that boundary despite my lax attitude with my in-car musical choices is a great source of pride for me with my impressive parenting skills!

“Pardon?” said my mother.

“Mum’s been listening to songs with swear words in!!”

Sometimes you just want loud guitars and mournful Radiohead songs in the car though, don’t you?

At least I’ve long given up my nonsensical, slightly delusional dreams of having been born during a completely different decade, which is undoubtedly a good thing.  But if I’m honest, I am still rather struggling to be a proper grown-up even though I very much have my feet on the ground in this era. Of course, I still sometimes hanker after a life as an eternal pixie with flowers in my hair dancing in some muddy field somewhere (Mrs. G, I’m kinda desperate to get in that fantasy camper van with you) – but I’m also aware the reality of that might send me a little bit loopy! You see, not so delusional after all.

Here are some images from Dede’s fantastic wonderful fundraising 70th.

Have a great week! SJ

All images (c)Sarah-Jane Field


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Sarah Furniss

Family and corporate, portrait and event photographer working in London and surrounding area.

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