South London Photographer: A change of tempo

This is the first time I’ve written here for a month. That may be the longest gap between posts since setting up this site, which I originally did to increase my SEO. For anyone lucky enough not to have to devote time spreading news about services they offer, in my case photography, across the internet, that means Search Engine Optimisation. I had no idea what it stood for to begin with. I know now it’s about making sure as many people as possible notice you. For someone who occasionally feels she might prefer to walk round with a pillow-slip over her head to hide the sense of embarrassment she quite often experiences, this hasn’t always been easy. But before I started posting a couple of years ago people insisted, YOU MUST HAVE A BLOG.  So that’s what I did. I got a myself a blog. Then I couldn’t work out what to write about. I didn’t feel able to talk about photography with any authority as I was and am still learning. But I do know about my own life, and I know about the feeling of inadequacy parents often have, and since I was trying to appeal to families (as a sort of vague marketing goal) I thought I’d write about kiddie related subjects which, of course, I do have experience of, like feeling really crap, or being judged, or wondering if everything I’m doing or failing to do is in some way damaging to my precious brood.  So what you see here is a digital record of an experiment as I tried to discover, a) how to get over myself and b) who I might be talking to. If you’ve followed me you will know I began to witter on about my boys, mixed in along the way with stories of learning about images. (It has turned out, for now, most of my work is corporate although I am employed by families occasionally as well.) I have really enjoyed writing about life and my boys.  And I’ve really loved it when people have come up to me to say they found something I wrote funny, or that I made them feel better about their own parenting, or just that they look forward to my ramblings. But for the last few months I have found it very difficult to know what to write about at all. And not because I haven’t got anything to say. As anyone who knows me will agree, I could probably talk the hind leg of someone or something, as the saying sort of goes… And I certainly have plenty of opinions. But the world is so fucking confusing at the moment that blathering on about how the boys were splashing too much water on the floor as we battled for space with imaginary Greek gods in the bath just doesn’t seem right (although reading that sentence back, it does sound kind of worthwhile in that particular case).

So what do I talk about? I just can’t bring myself to ignore what’s going on in the world and I feel wittering on about family life regardless would be a failure of some sort. I will mention something about my oldest here: that recently I was accused of taking too much notice of his political views. In fact, I was told I rely on my son for political opinions. Whatever unconscious motivating factor prompted the accusation is perhaps as irrelevant as it is absurd. What is important is that I am immensely proud of my son for being politically engaged even though we don’t share opinions on many things. You might say I’m more left-wing than he currently is, just as my father had more right-wing views than I held when I was growing up. Perhaps those distincitions matter less nowadays. But back in the 80s my dad used to moan,”Oh, I can’t believe what a Trotskyite you are!” I’m not by the way but I didn’t think Thatcher was up to much good and he felt deeply betrayed by my view. Although my dad was always a Conservative voter, and felt pained by the fact I wasn’t, I know he would have been appalled by much of what is happening in the UK today. He  told us the reason for not trusting socialism or anything that sounded vaguely related was because Hitler had headed the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. Whatever the merits or lack thereof in his understanding, the point is we were able to discuss it. I was encouraged to explore ideas and think about the way the world worked. And by choosing to engage in discussions with my 12 year old son about politics, even when his views appear to be unsound or uninformed (they’re often very well-informed actually) I hope to give him room to think, question, explore and form well founded opinions of his own, which I’d say is pretty important nowadays. Talking and valuing our discussions is a really good way of doing this. And avoiding the sort of ludicrous, not to mention abusive, name calling we see on social media is absolutely imperative.

Words themselves are also crucial right now as are the ever-changing meanings they might contain, especially since much of what is being said in the press has led to extraordinary outcomes in recent months. I believe some of the press are currently bandying words around in ways that are dangerous in the extreme. And my socialist-adverse father would have been truly horrified and frightened by what is going on. As such as I am not sure how I will continue this blog for now. I feel I need to choose my words very carefully. These are political times and to ignore that seems wrong. What I do know is that I don’t really care about SEO anymore. I have a blog because I have something to say. Often saying it makes me want to hide my face, but too late for that probably. I also know we should encourage and allow our children to have political views if they’re interested, and the best way of doing that is to take their thoughts and opinions seriously. They, after all, are the ones who will be left to sort out the mess our world is currently in. It behoves us to listen to what they are telling us. I’m not sure how often I will write. Perhaps only when I’m prompted to ask questions. Or when I’m truly shocked by events. Whatever else is true, we in the UK really need to think about how we’ve found ourselves here in this place where societal empathy has been turned down to very low indeed, or in some cases simply switched off altogether.

(c)SJField 2016

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Taken at Skipton Castle in October’s half term, a critical location during the English Civil War, 1642-1651. I wonder what sort of mess we are leaving for our children to sort out (c)SJField 2016
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