A Very Good Day

 

It was Tuesday 28th February and the previous two days had been very wet but then Tuesday morning got off to an odd start, well it was for me.

I hadn’t long finished my breakfast when my phone rang. It was Zoe, she was an old Buddhist friend of my late brother’s “Hi Phil, I’m having some people over tonight as we’re going to chant for your brother, as it was a year since he died.”

“Ok fine,” I replied, “I’m off out tonight to Brixton for a meeting on how to price my photographs.”

“Good luck, we’ll also chant for you and Giulia (she’s my sister in law).

“Oh thanks.”

“So how are you getting on with the doctor about your cancer?”

As my brother died of cancer of the prostate I decided to get checked out and they found a bit of cancer in my prostate, then I was informed this year that the cancer had gone from three to seven in my prostate. My cousin Pam told me to ask questions and write everything down. Zoe also went on about it, but as I explained to them both I was taken by surprise when I was informed of this, but now, I have lots of questions to ask the cancer specialist. Like why not treat me now rather than wait until the cancer has grown? In the meantime I am eating brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, apricots and whatever natural food I can that is supposed to erase cancer.

I said to Zoe, “You missed my birthday; it was on the 16th, you told me it’s the same day as one of your leaders.”

“Oh yes, but you missed mine.”

“When was it then?”

“The twenty eighth of January.”

“I’ll remember next year. Do you fancy meeting for a drink?”

“I’m busy for the next few weeks.”

“Fine Zoe, I’ll see you in April.”

I then went out to pay some bills and post a card to my cousin on the Wirral as it’s her birthday on Sunday. On the way back I wandered through the park and it started to rain. An elderly woman was coming towards me carrying an umbrella.

She stopped by me and said, “It’s the first day of spring today.”

“Oh, not very spring like weather is it?” I replied and scurried off to the warmth of my flat thinking, ‘Isn’t the first of March the first day of spring?’

I had some soup to warm myself and didn’t do much apart from read a book until it was time for me to go to Brixton. I had a bite to eat, showered put on clean clothes and left for the station. I changed at Wembley Park onto the Metropolitan line and was seated with three young women, who were moaning about their job. I was glad to leave them and change back onto the Jubilee line at Finchley Road. I then changed at Green Park onto the Victoria Line.

The tube train came into the station and was crowded but a station assistant asked people to clear a way for an elderly man with a walking stick. I boarded the train and stood up until the old man with a walking stick left the train and I took his seat.

There was a young man and a podgy young woman stood in the doorway talking about work, but when the man with a walking stick left the tube the young woman said, “I will worry about that man. He looks lost, he should not be out on his own.”

Arriving at Brixton, which is the end of the line I left the train and got on the escalators and felt the cold once more. Passing through the exit I looked up the stairs to the dark night and saw a room over a shop at the top lit up. I don’t think I would like to live there.

I left the station and noted that I was about ten minutes early for the meeting, I was so pleased. Also most of the market stalls had been taken down, there were two women who still had bits of their stall to remove and they were chatting away. The shops were still open and some had fish on display on ice. On the corner was a shop selling joss sticks and two young women were sniffing them.

I turned right and at the door of Photofusion was stood a bearded, grey haired, bespectacled, portly man. He let me in first and there were a few youngsters at the bottom of the stairs. I ascended the stairs and upon entering the room was asked my name, it was ticked off and I chose a seat about three rows from the front.

Kim, the thin, dark haired woman who runs Photofusion said.

“There are bottles of Heineken for you if you like, or else there is water.”

I went over and someone opened a bottle for me. I took it and went back to my seat. The room was filling up and Kim announced.

“There should be about forty people and so I will wait a bit until Jane begins her talk.”

I sat down had a swig of beer and looked at Jane, a portly, blonde woman, who wore a white top and tight trousers. Her hair was pinned up and she wore a large hoop earring upside down on her right ear whilst her left ear had a red stud in it and her makeup was most peculiar. She had a dash of red eye shadow on her left eyelid whilst her right eyelid was unblemished. In fact it was as if she’d grabbed a small paint brush and just painted a dash of red over her left eye. Perhaps she thought it was arty, but to me it looked as if she’d got up late and wasn’t sure what to put on.

Prior to Jane starting her talk an attractive blonde lady sat a seat or two away from me and placed her bag on the seat in between us.

Once Jane started to talk she said, “This may take an hour and a half to two hours, but I do not expect to do all the talking. I would like you to ask questions as we progress.”

Jane explained the two ways of selling photographs one was merely retail but the another was the arty route of finishing college, getting noticed as a photographer and ending up in a museum, although some of the people had stated that some students gave up photography. Whereas I just did photography as a hobby, and decided to make a living out of it. This was quite a while ago in the late 1980s, needless to say, I didn’t make any money at it, but I did enjoy it.

Now I would like to make some money from the sale of some of the pictures I took all those years ago. In fact on the first Saturday of February, Photofusion had a meeting where members may show their pictures, I turned up late but still managed to show some of my pictures.

I put up my black & white pictures of models, famous people and rock stars. I was told to put all my work onto jpegs and in that way I could send them to people. Plus two ladies handed me bits of paper, one said, “My friend has a gallery in Hastings she would like your work as it is what she sells.”

But back to the meeting and at one point I said to Jane, “I gave a gallery in Islington some of my pictures to sell, but over a period of time, I heard nothing. Then I discovered that the gallery had gone. I tracked it down to Liverpool Street and went to the headquarters and retrieved my large black and white pictures.”

Kim said, “A gallery in New York is interested in my work, but they want me to pay for hanging my work.”

“Yes a lot of galleries do that,” Jane said, “but on the other hand the USA pay a lot more for photographs than the UK.”

I mentioned earlier about meetings on a Saturday where people may show their work, these are held on the first Saturday morning of the month, but Kim said, “There will be no meeting this Saturday, it will be on the following Saturday.”

As she said that she was going to New York, presumably it is to take her pictures to the gallery she mentioned. (How the other half live!)

As the meeting drew to a close the attractive blonde lady who sat near to me said, “Did you contact my friend about your photos?”

“No, not yet as I need to get them into jpegs.” I paused then added, “see you next Saturday.”

I went across to a grey haired, portly man who wore a white shirt and said, “I heard you say that you had a picture in Burgh House, Hampstead, so where is Burgh House?”

“Go up Flask Walk, past the pub, onto what used to be the Public Baths.”

“I know it well, my dad used to use those baths and further on is The Duke of Hamilton.”

“Yes and also The White Bear, which is now closed. You’ll find Burgh House by the baths. Would you like to see the picture?”

“Yes please.”

He showed me a picture of the Shard through what looked to me like a grill. I wasn’t impressed and yet he wanted £1200 for it. He showed me other pictures one was the classic sea breaker going out to sea. He took it in winter; mind you it would have looked better if there was a sun and clouds in it.

I then asked another chap about an exhibition he’d seen at the Tate Modern and then left. Jane was on the stairs chatting to people, I thanked her and left. As for the youngsters that were on the stairs earlier, they had left prior to Jane starting her talk with another group of youngsters. I recollected from my days of using the darkroom on a Tuesday that youngsters used the facilities on a Tuesday.

At the tube station I noted the time, it was about nine and I boarded the tube going north. I then wondered if I should go home or drop off at Camden for a beer. I decided upon the latter and changed tubes at Euston.

Fortunately there was a Northern line tube in the station, I boarded it and a young man in dark blue suit looked at me and said, “Would you like a seat?”

“No thanks, I’m getting off at the next stop.”

I emerged from the station and headed for the Elephants Head, the bouncer smiled and said hello and the pub was quite empty. I bought a beer and was going to sit down on a seat near to the door but I thought it would be cold whenever the door was opened. I looked up at the DJ, he was bald, has dark brown hair, mutton chop whiskers, wore a red skinhead type of jacket, with a chequered shirt underneath it, Levi jeans and brown shoes. I sat on a bench nearby and occasionally went across to ask him what the record was, I thought he was only playing until 11pm but he said, “No Bill will be here at tenish, he relieves me for a bit them I am on til one.”

When Bill arrived, I recognised him; he’s tall, thin, has short grey hair, and wears metal framed spectacles. He got his bag of records, went over to the bar, bought a drink, sat down and chatted to someone. When Bill started to play his records, the other DJ sat near to me and so I chatted to him, his name is Sean and I told him I used to be a mod.

He replied, “I don’t like the clothes they wear these days. I was a latter day mod.”

“I know a bloke who was an original Teddy Boy and he liked some of the clothes that mods wore, he wore a drape and a slim Jim tie, this was before bootlace ties. In fact mods and rockers were so alike. I saw a documentary on them, they were both rebels and both had their own way of dressing.”

Sean went back to playing records and Bill sat next to me, he said, “I hear you used to be a mod?”

“Yes I used to live near to Southend. I used to go to coffee bars.”

“You don’t look old enough.”

“I’m sixty nine,” I replied.

“I’m sixty five.”

We shook hands and he left to have a drink at the bar and I chatted to the two blokes next to me, they were Italian, one was a waiter and the other a barman, they both worked at the Sheraton Hotel for a pittance. The one who was a waiter said, “It’s taken us three years to learn English.”

“Now you’ve learned it, you should try and get a better job, after all what you earn hardly covers your rent.”

“I know, we seldom have a chance to come out.”

It was about midnight when I left the pub and walked along under the railway bridge to the bus stop and noted the next bus would arrive in a quarter of an hour. I just hoped the tubes would still be running.

I was in luck, at Swiss Cottage station the indicator board showed the next tube would be arriving in two minutes and was going to Stanmore, but when it emerged from the tunnel it said Willesden Green on the front. There were a few tubes on the board after it and I wondered if I should get on the tube as I’d done this before and had to get off at Willesden and I really didn’t want that to happen as it would be cold standing on the platform.

I decided to board the tube and although it was held up on the way, it did go to Stanmore. A young man who had a scarf over his head chatted to me at the foot of the stairs at Stanmore Station.

“I hate foreigners,” he exclaimed a young Asian man.

“So why do you hate foreigners?”

“I work in a pub.”

“Have you tried Wetherspoons, or is that where you work?”

“Wetherpsoons turned me down.”

“You’re probably too good. In my old local, whenever it got busy the staff would disappear for a cigarette.”

Some workmen came along and told us to leave as the station was closing. We walked up the stairs and went our separate ways. I got home at about 1.30am and it had been a really enjoyable night out.