Sunday

Did slightly more today than yesterday, but barely.

Went to a cafe with Fi to meet Vicky. Fi and Vicky chatted lots. I read In The Dust Of This Planet on my phone. Because I’m that fucking sociable.

Clipped the rabbits’ claws. Fi hates doing this as the dudes struggle like hell and she’s worried we’ll cut them too short or something worse, but we got through it like a couple of pros. Also checked their butts for infection. Butts checked out okay.

Watched Birdman, finally. Been wanting to see it for quite a while now. It’s great, but nothing like I was expecting. That quirky, pseudo-alt US cinema thing that is as much about cinema as about telling a story. I’m a sucker for that Charlie Kaufman shit, but Fi finds it a little tiresome. It’s curious how much pop-culture stuff Fi and I disagree on, and I like it that way. She forces me to consider why I like something, which is much better than seeing stuff with people who share your proclivities.

Am now looking forward to Mad Max. Hopefully seeing it this week.

Having heard of Macs older than my 2011 Mac Mini running Yosemite perfectly fine, and having tried a couple of optimisation tools, I’ve relented and am doing a clean install. A shame, and feels like some kind of defeat, but if I’m right this Mac was copied over from my white Macbook so has been upgraded since 2008 using only Time Machines for reinstalls. That’s not bad going.

Mad Men finishes in the US in a few hours. For the first time in living memory I’m actively avoiding spoilers. Am genuinely looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

Friday

Had a few beers so let’s see how this goes.

Birmingham Camera Obscura day today which saw Jenny and I in our “scruffs” painting the inside black and varnishing the outside.

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It looks well nice, but we didn’t finish it. Should be done by next Friday though.

Fi had gotten tickets to a Northern Soul night and I said I’d go even though it’s not my thing. I like the music but the scene has always felt a bit “not me” for some reason I’ve never put my finger on. Probably because it’s got a clothing thing going on, and I don’t do clothing things (grunge was such a perfect style for me in the early 1990s). Turned out to be a fairly innocuous night with nice people and a DJ who was probably a hot thing in the 70s but had then spent the 80s and 90s doing cheezy discos which lent the whole event a certain disarming vibe. Teriffic music though. Discovered that Go Team track sampled the “2, 4, 6, 8, 10” bit. Who knew?

They had wrist bands.

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Thursday

A busy day, which means I don’t really feel the urge to write about it because it was busy and I want to go to bed, but that’s the paradox of journal writing and we must push on through.

Started day with a meeting with Ben and Kerry for a TBA thing, though I got there an hour early so made the most of being in the wrong place at the wrong time to work through the Scrivener tutorial. It’s a text editor with a bunch of research tools embedded in for gathering and organising ideas and stories. I’m thinking of using it for my art research where I tend to get loads of seemingly random bits and bobs which I want to make sense of. I’ve struggled so far with seeing the bigger pictures so am hoping this might help. It comes highly recommended anyway.

An amusing thing about TBA is Kerry will be doing it with her Created in Birmingham hat on. I’ll never leave that blog behind, will I.

Then back to BOM for the afternoon where, amongst other things, I rewrote the front page of Art Pete emphasising the three areas of my work at the moment – Bham Obscura, Cross City Walks and the Bom Fellowship. I also, sadly, removed some of the sarcasm and probably upped the artspeak, but it’s aimed at the art world so that’s okay.

Gemma Marmalade’s solo show was opening at BOM tonight and, inevitably, Karen roped me in to fix some random unforeseen problem at the last minute, which is just the sort of thing I enjoy. A giant thermometer had to be fixed to the window but sticky-stuff wasn’t working. I proposed using wood, but had taken all my saws home that week. In the end, with an hour to go before the launch, I used a hacksaw on wood and giant screws to create a baton across the window frames, and astonishingly it doesn’t look shit.

Gemma’s show is really nice with some neat ideas and a playful vibe, and even if you’re not down with the conceptual stuff she’s got some gorgeous photos on the walls. Pop in and see it.

After that Andy (young film-maker Andy I do the walks with – I know, there are always too many Andys in my life) and I walked down to Vivid for some performance stuff which I knew very little about but which came recommended. Fleck is a touring thing where the big draw for me was live typing projected on the screen, kinda like watching words appear on a shared Google Doc. I really liked the idea of using typing as a form of storytelling, the rhythm of the letters appearing adding meaning and emphasis to the words themselves. But, possibly because I got obsessed with the methodology, possibly because my feet were hurting, the actual content felt a bit thin and occasionally juvenile. I wanted to feel something because all the pieces seemed to be there, but I wasn’t really. Hmm.

But that idea of typing as performance. That is solid gold, man.

Darren Joyce was their guest for the Birmingham show. He’s a member of Modified Toy Orchestra, which many of you will know is a bit of an obsession for me. Here’s some nice photos of him. His performance was fantastic. A rich and deep mix of found and manipulated sounds with moments that could only be described as Lynchian. I was rapt.

Had a good chat with Annie Mahtani in the interval, catching up with stuff we’re up to. She’s keen to come on a Cross City Walk and record the sounds. Exciting!

That wasn’t so bad. Once you start this writing thing is a doddle.

Wednesday

Left this one a bit late. Typing at 2:30pm. Oops.

At home today working for Fi on one of her client’s websites, although I didn’t spend too long on it. Still in a bit of a fuzz, like yesterday, where I can’t focus properly. Occurred to me my todo list is full of things which aren’t urgent and I’m sort of waiting for them to become urgent, which is stupid, but it’s what I’m doing. Doh.

Had an enquiry from Liverpool to run a camera obscura workshop up there in August, which was awesome. Was then sent this link to a fantastically novel camera obscura workshop and realised we still have lots of work to do. Which is, of course, a good thing.

Is 5pm afternoon or evening? It kinda feels like both. Late afternoon?

Late afternoon I met up with Andy Grewcock, my old chum from the bookselling days and then the Bournville housemate days. We actually started at Dillons New St (now Waterstones New St) the same week in 1998. It had been a while so much catching up was done in the rather nice new P Cafe in Stirchley.

And then to Gareth‘s, who co-incidentally I also met at Dillons circa 1998 when he was a Christmas temp, to pick up some camera junk he was clearing out and to chat about his design work for Birmingham Obscura. The good news is he’s staying on board. Yay!

The camera junk is hopefully going to kick start some kind of Experimental Camera Club I’ve been pondering running at BOM. I’m thinking regular informal meetings where likeminded people make cameras out of junk and see what happens. Stay tuned.

Fi and sis-in-law-Chris wanted to watch The Matrix all the way through, so we did that. It both holds up brilliantly and is hilariously dated. Those phones still look cool though.

Tuesday

Worked with Chloe on her degree show piece. It’s coming together nicely. You’ll be able to see it at the Custard Factory next Wednesday night. I’ll post specific details when I have them.

Spent the rest of the day at BOM doing bitty things. One job was watering the plants, as Karen was away. The gallery has plants at the moment for Gemma Marmalade’s show which opens on Thursday. I was not expecting watering plants to be something I would do at BOM.

Jess, who you may remember as the work experience kid at the Created in Birmingham Shop way back in the day, popped in to borrow a telly, which is something that does happen at BOM. It was good to catch up. She’s doing well.

But mostly bitty things. Couldn’t focus on the big things. Sometimes that happens. I’ve learned to just go with it.

Got quite obsessed with this video of a phone falling down a 40 story building in Dubai. Downloaded it, broke it into individual frames and selected my favourites.

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Monday

Did some decorating at BOM today. There are bits out back that were never finished before it opened and they make Karen sad so I offered to spend a day with a paint brush doing my best to make them right. My best isn’t very good (there’s a reason I don’t make art using paint) but it’s good enough for the simple stuff and when Karen gets a pro in they can concentrate on the important stuff, is my logic.

It also gave me a chance to let some thoughts process and settle. Nothing has emerged from the settling process per se but it felt good.

Scheduled the September through December beginners photography classes. Used to take me hours figuring it all out. Doesn’t anymore.

And that’s about it. The downside of decorating is it’s kinda exhausting. Off to bed now.

Sunday

Photo School today, and the last Beginners class of the spring began. They always tail off about now and I almost didn’t run this one, but three people signed up and that makes it worthwhile, just about. £35 to sit at Loaf and talk about cameras for a couple of hours is nothing to be sniffed at. Once this ends in June it’ll be over until September.

The other beginners course that’s already running is a bit weird. They’re picking it all up really quickly. Usually at least half the class struggle but this lot are getting it first time and barely had any questions from their homework. In fact in their first class, which usually overruns as I spend time explaining the concepts in different ways, finished 20 minutes early, which never happens. Either they’re a freak outlier group or I’ve really cracked explaining how cameras work.

I’m going with the former for now, because if I’ve learned anything about teaching small groups it’s that you can’t generalise from them. A group of 6-8 random people will be radically different from the next group. If I was teaching classes of 100 then I’d expect patterns, but I’ve had no patterns with Photo School. Which might be frustrating but ultimately keeps things interesting, and interesting is what keeps me doing a thing.

And that was pretty much today. I’ve got a full week so have paced myself a bit this weekend. Nice and easy does it.

Niece-in-law is looking for someone to foster her cat while she moves into a cat-free home for a year. Ideally a friend-of-a-friend in the Stirchey area but all offers appreciated.

Saturday

Day off today. Stayed in bed for ages. Mmmm.

In the afternoon Fi and I went to visit Jez and family, then popped in to the Hare and Hounds where Michael, Midge and Gavin were listening to bands, then out for a curry and on to the cinema for that new Avengers film.

Film was good. I very much enjoyed watching it but it didn’t blow me away or anything. Not that I wanted it to – my expectations are nice a low for these things.

Jez’s dog gives good poise.

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Friday

So yeah, election happened and we have five years of a Conservative government, some members of whom have already proven to be ideologically dangerous. This should be fun, he said in a tone of voice that implied the opposite of fun.

Not much to say other than I’m not as horrified as some in my belief-bubble. Without meaning to play the outsider card I’ve never really understood the mainstream point of view and tend to oppose it on instinct. So I should have known Miliband would lose when I started to warm to him last week. Just as I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Blair prior to his 1997 landslide. I’m not proud of this – it would be genuinely useful to be able to identify with the average Brit – but I have come to accept it. So yeah, a disconcerting chunk of England votes out of self-interest and fear of the other, and that makes me sad. What’s new.

That doesn’t mean we can’t collectively change things, but it’s a fucking hard mountain to climb. Maybe we’ll get there in a few generations. Or maybe England is just a shit country full of people who, while nice when you meet them, are ultimately shits. Maybe it’s time to get the fuck out.

Stayed up ’til about 6am for the count and drank maybe a little too much gin so getting up was a struggle. Had a meeting with Jenny about the Camera Obscura which we had at the MAC rather than BOM because Jenny had another meeting there but also so we could get a bit of distance and review where we were at with the project, with our partnership with our own endeavours. All positive and good. I’m dead lucky to have Jenny in my life. She’s one of the good ones.

Then back home for a long, needed nap.