Wednesday, November 26, 2008

platform end, generations, grafitti

Posted by Picasa While waiting for the train to London, I explore the "up" end of Platform I. My camera is at the ready. Without trespassing, I take some photographs like this one. It shows the entrance to the tunnel which passes under the centre of the town and beneath the disused cinema. As I walk away, a pleasant young railway employee approaches me. "Are you alright?" he asks tactfully. "Only I saw your camera!" I ignore the non-sequiter and refer to my interest in odd corners of buildings and crumbling engineering structures, in signs and symbols. I am not sure how convinced he is but apparently dismisses me as harmless.

Lunch with my son and daughter and the eldest of my grandsons. Daughter has to hurry off to a meeting, but as we leave the restaurant, the three of us, about to go our separate ways, ask the owner of the restaurant to photograph us. On returning home, I look at the photograph and realize that, while I think of myself as being of average height, I appear to have become a dwarf, in comparison with the two successive generations beside me in the picture. They tower above me, the younger now an inch or so taller than his father, who is himself well over 6 ft. Yes, there is a certain pride and wonder at such offspring, but also, for the first time, some sympathy for stature-challenged dignitaries like President Sarkozy, who must often worry about where they are standing when in a group photograph.

As the train enters London I am, as usual, fascinated, by the graffiti, which cover the walls beside the railway lines outside London Bridge station. I have a guilty admiration for the energy which they display, modified only by dismay at the general absence of wit or talent in their execution. I think, however, of the New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who graduated from graffiti to produce, sometimes enormous, graffiti-like paintings, which made him famous during the last years of his brief life. "Every single line means something," he is supposed to have said. Words, which could be challenged by those who have to remove acres of spray paint from often inaccessible and apparently interminable brick and plasterwork.

Then there's Banksy, whose amusing and well observed graffiti on the walls of urban building are now famous and valuable in the art market, but that's another story.

7 comments:

marja-leena said...

Interesting experiences in photographing crumbling odd bits of architecture, as if you may be a security threat! Like the references to well-known graffiti artists. Your mention of increasing heights of the generations reminded me of a photograph that a Danish friend once showed us: three men side by side, shortest to tallest, each progressively a head taller. Our friend in the middle, his father the shortest on one side and one of his sons, the tallest on the other. Apparently the other son, not in the picture, taller yet, nearing 7 ft!

Lucy said...

Breton people seemed to shoot up about a foot in one generation, judging by my neighbours compared to their children.

Lucas said...

I think "Are you alright?" is the first in a long series of increasingly more forceful interventions. You must have done well for it to end there.

Barrett Bonden said...

"Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature?" I may not have got it completely right but I particularly like "by taking thought". Well homunculoid Bernie Ecclestone not only took thought but also took the cash but it still wasn't enough to encourage his wife (2 m tall at least) to stay. Mind you, it may not have just been a lack of centimetres for few would copy his hair-style. Looks as if an old dish-rag had fallen on to his head.

Zhoen said...

Gotta stop feeding the kids so well...

Plutarch said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I seem to be back to my proper height at least in my mind's eye and so I may in a way have added a cubit to my stature. I like MJ's image of three men side by side with a fourth towering to 7ft in the wings.

Dave King said...

Doesn't it depend upon the length of your adolescence?