ARFOE versus a DeLorean

I’m in a reflective mood. Perhaps it’s down to Back to the Future day, which I’ve spent marvelling at the thousands of hoverboards nobody has. More likely it’s because I finally finished the first draft of ARFOE not so long ago. Finishing a first draft is like riding a non-hovering skateboard into a kerb: it stops, and you keep going. I’m typing, I’m typing, I’m typing, and then I’m not, I’m just being carried along by momentum with my typing fingers flapping at the air. And soon (in three weeks?) the hard work begins, of battering that draft into shape. So I’ve been wandering, and doodling.

I’m writing this in the bar of my old college, Downing. A curious experience, not least because I rarely crossed its threshold when I was an undergraduate at the turn of the 1990s. The bar itself now opens to the public as a Costa franchise during the day, because money. And of course everyone looks twelve apart from the rugby players, who could pass for fourteen.

Someone mugging for what I am apparently obliged to call a selfie made me think about how photography has changed since my non-bald days. Today’s undergraduates can likely trace themselves visually almost daily from birth through college — and barring a collapse of civilisation, until death. Today’s technology will only improve and become more widespread, with an ever-shrinking ability to opt out. Anonymity, privacy and secrecy will retreat to ever-smaller niches available only to those with ever-deeper pockets.

And some of today’s undergraduates will one day want to become politicians. Society — by which I mean the newspapers — will have to grow up a little to allow that. (Confidential to self: maybe a St Paul’s College student?)

In contrast, barely any visual record of my time at college exists, to my knowledge. The more distant those days become the more I regret this. I have my matriculation photo: I’m a small blob in a suit and gown amongst other small blobs in suits and gowns. There’s one of me at my college May Ball, again in a suit, a few days before I graduated. I have a few graduation photos. I’m squinting in the sun, and I’m still in a suit.

Somewhere there’s a photo of a small group of us taken in my student room a few hours after our final exam. We’re cheersing the camera with something fizzy. I’m wearing a chunky-knit white jumper. I don’t know why: it was June. I wore it for the three hours of the exam. I wore it for the rest of the day. I never wore it again.

Would I want a photo of me on stage at the Cambridge Union, in late 1988, having been pulled out of the audience by a hypnotist? Perhaps. I was given some plastic specs and told they let me see everyone naked. They didn’t, but I went along with it.

Would I want a photo of me playing korfball for the university? Absolutely. I scored a terrific goal at an away game at UEA in Norwich twenty-five years ago next week, NOT THAT I’M COUNTING. (I believe that was the trip during which (a) I managed to lose some authentic non-cheap Cambridge University branded tracksuit bottoms and (b) someone noticed me staring at an underdressed attractive gentleman in the changing room and I brazened it out and for the avoidance of doubt these two facts are not linked.)

You know, just a few more photos of me as an undergrad in college, and not in a suit or a jumper I’d never wear again, would be nice.

I worry that without a photographic record, I’ll forget these things. Time scuffs and rubs at each day’s mental pencil jottings, leaving only the deep emotional scratches of utter clarity. The final seconds of melancholy sitting on my desk in my third-year room, newly graduated, about to leave for the last time. The ludicrous, irrational bitterness at not being selected for the Varsity korfball match. Watching TV as the first Gulf war kicked off, unable to work from the adrenaline shakes. Learning Margaret Thatcher had resigned and wanting to run and tell everyone, and instead queuing mutely to pay my poll tax. Plucking a porter’s note from my pigeonhole asking me to phone home, and knowing it meant my grandmother had died. The first minutes alone in my first-year room, trying not to panic.

Maybe I shouldn’t visit college again for a while. Or maybe I should.

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Pride London 2014

There’s no better way to celebrate finishing the first draft of a new book than by marching in Pride, in sunshine and in rain, through the centre of London in bright turquoise (or teal, depending on taste).

As last year I marched with Families Together London, and took my camera along. Here are some photos from the day.

Pride London 2013

You may remember last year I marched with Families Together London for Pride. Last Saturday we did it all again, except with better weather and, I think, bigger crowds.

I thought I’d share some of the photos I took. I’d also love to find any photos or video of me or the Families Together London group taken by others. If you see any (or took some!) please let me know in the comments, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google+, by telegram, or by street mime.

Click/tap/waft to embiggen…

Till Undeath: photos part three

Here’s the third part – the final part, unless anyone has any specific requests – of the photographic tour of some of the locations in Till Undeath Do Us Part. I don’t think the captions are spoilers.

Look closely and you can spot the faces used for the cover image of the book.

Click to embiggen…

Till Undeath: photos part two

And now the long-awaited part two of the photographic tour of some of the locations in Till Undeath Do Us Part. As in part one, the captions are excerpts from the story and I’ve tried not to make them too spoileriffic.

I took the photos earlier this year during a short intermission between month-long rainstorms. Click to embiggen…

Till Undeath: scene one in photos

In an earlier post I promised you a photographic tour of some of the locations in Till Undeath Do Us Part. Here’s the first post in that series. Expect further posts at highly irregular intervals.

These locations appear in the very first scene. The captions are excerpts from that scene and you might consider them spoilers if you’re particularly phobic (I know I am). In the scene the action takes place at night, but I couldn’t possibly visit the locations after dark, you know, in case of zombies.

Click to embiggen…