When yesterday, while browsing around in a vintage shop, I re-discovered the song Somebody that I used to know, I remembered that it is a long time, in fact a very long time ago that I suffered from someone, meaning that I was in love with someone.
It appears to me that photography is most of all an expression of my relationship to the world – and more than an expression it is my relationship to the word. I can’t photograph what I haven’t got a relationship to. If I don’t get involved in the world I don’t get images of it. So if I want my pictures to express something I need to live the very something. And this is why photography is more than art but also a way of living.
But never say good-bye. A while ago, I said good-bye to my favourite London musicians. However, everything comes back – in a new shape. I’ve always loved a particular song by the bearded singer with the cowboy hat whose warm voice sounded through the tunnels of the tube; recently I discovered it was a song by Jackson C. Frank, Carnival. So the song has returned to my world.
And this is how things meet in life. They are torn apart and yet connected through time. So I trust that London will come back in my life, in a different but nevertheless delightful shape.
Miraculously, after having been through the last wonderful, intense weeks, I am developing some confidence that my life will just carry on being exciting – and I am realising that it might be less about the place where I live than about me and my ability to take up on the world around me and get excited.
I’ve liked being a foreigner. I’ve always felt as a stranger and living abroad amongst so many other strangers just seemed to be the right thing. It helped clarifying my identity. There is no country I could go ‘home’. It was here in London watching the Chinese film Summer Palace that I realised what it had meant to me that the country I am from did not longer exist. I am not looking for a home anymore but wonder how it will feel to live in a country that is supposed to be my home.
What departing really means is that everything that is significant now loses its importance in the future. It is the nature of change that things one cares about now will become less relevant and drift from the centre towards the edges of one’s life. Once I’ve left the stream of London, the city will never be the same again. It will become a stranger and one day I might even wonder what I’ve ever found so appealing about this place. It is most likely that soon, I will never find MY London back. It will be a mere piece of memory, getting smaller and smaller.
No man ever steps in the same river twice (Heraclitus) – and no man ever steps in the same city twice. How much I fear what is going to happen.
I would give everything to go back to this night five years ago when I arrived in a shabby hotel room in West Hampstead right by the tracks of the overground, nervous, anxious, exhausted, having spent a day paralysed in the armchair of a home I didn’t know that night would never be my home again. I didn’t know that night that I would exchange a home for a whole city. I didn’t know that night what the city would mean to me very soon. I didn’t know I would have to leave the city five years later without having offered me a home or any permission to stay other than as a bohemian.
“There must be some kind of way out of here,” / Said the joker to the thief, / “There’s too much confusion, / I can’t get no relief. / Businessman they drink my wine, / Plowman dig my earth / None will level on the line, nobody offered his word, hey” / “No reason to get excited,” / The thief, he kindly spoke / “There are many here among us / Who feel that life is but a joke / But you and I, we’ve been through that / And this is not our fate / So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”. Jimi Hendrix: All Along The Watchtower
Good times for a change / See, the luck I’ve had / Can make a good man / Turn bad / So please please please / Let me, let me, let me /Let me get what I want /This time / Haven’t had a dream in a long time / See, the life I’ve had / Can make a good man bad / So for once in my life / Let me get what I want / Lord knows, it would be the first time / Lord knows, it would be the first time. The Smiths: Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want