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What Remains

I’ve always had a curiosity with empty houses, mainly when derelict. It’s a fascination I’ve had since childhood and one that inevitably catches up with me when exploring the South West countryside. On these unplanned explorations, I often come across empty farm buildings. As I step across the doorway, there is frequently a feeling of intrusion given I often come across personal items of little value. An old tie is hanging in a cupboard recess or rusting oil lamp. Each piece is holding its own short story. A reflection of past lives, including my own.

In my birth town of Stockton on tees, there was an old dog racing track (Belle Vue Park) in the neighbourhood, opened in 1946 and the track closed around 1974. Sitting in the grounds of the stadium was a grand old house with a large garage. It was only a matter of time, of course, after the place closed down, that we found a way into the stadium, under the less than secure fencing to explore the grounds.

Racing our bikes around the stadium where the electric course hare would zoom around the inside of the track as the dogs frantically chased in pursuit. Finding our way in the house, and offices and discovering the antiquated telecom and public address system. Singing the lastest Slade single over the public address system, taking turns to shout a swear word, which would attract the attention of the local neighbourhood and the soon to arrive police car.

Belle Vue Park is long gone, like the guys who would give us 3 pence for looking after their vehicles when visiting the races. Now, what stands there are rows of two-story blocks of flats, all neatly paraded with their inhabitants enjoying TV dinners in the company of the ghosts of past memories.

 

PACITA ABAD LIFE IN THE MARGINS

If you live or find yourself in the Bristol area before the 5th April 2020 then I highly recommend you pay a visit to Spike Island Bristol and immerse yourself in the Pacita Abad, Life in the Margins Exhibition. A collection of the photographs I took during my visit are below, which barely do the exhibition justice. A thoroughly enjoyable, beautiful and engaging exhibition. You can find a link here, which gives you all the information you need, including directions. Free entry (donations welcome).

One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small

Chinese Metal

This is boring. Literally boring stuff, but like all boring stuff, it tends to be important.

The London Metal Exchange (LME)10 Finsbury Square London, EC2A 1AJ is the world centre for the trading of industrial metals from lead to gold. In 2018 the LME traded $15.7 trillion and 4.1 billion tonnes of what they call ‘lots’ of metals across the globe.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx) bought the 135-year-old LME for an estimated £1.4bn in 2012. The HKEx now promotes itself as one of the biggest market operations in the world and the leader in “China Connectivity.”

HKEx itself was created in 2000 and formed through the merger of The Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong Futures Exchange and the Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company. The merger was designed to increase China’s competitiveness in the global market.

The sale of the LME raised a few eyebrows at the time with the Financial Times reporting (June 2012), “The sale would also deliver a windfall to the banks and brokers who own the LME. At £1.4bn, JPMorgan would receive £151m for its shares, Goldman Sachs would get £132m and the Bagri family, owners of Metdist, would receive £130m.” In the same article, the paper also suggested the Chief Executive of the LME was inline for a bonus of around £10m.

Seven years on following the sale of LME to the HEKx it is widely accepted that the deal has not realised its ambition of building a commodities bridge between the West and China. But as HKEX chief executive Charles Li says, “All you need to think about is if this is the right asset for us. The rest is detail. You don’t worry if the price is right.”

Roll on to December 2019, Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union has already fired a shot across the UK’s PM Johnson’s bow by warning that Brussels is ready to cut off the City of London’s post-Brexit market access unless the UK stays closely aligned with EU rules after it leaves the EU.

In an interview with the Financial Times (December 2019) Dombrovskis is quoted as saying, “Brussels was willing to grant the UK access through a system of “equivalence” decisions that are already used by banks and brokers in other countries such as Singapore and the US. The EU would be especially vigilant in checking that British rules for ensuring financial stability and protecting consumers remained aligned to the EU’s own standards and would act decisively in the event of any lapses.  Access will depend on Britain not starting to engage in some kind of deregulation.”

Meanwhile, as China maintains one alarming eye on the streets of Honk Kong while accusing ‘foreign interests’ of stirring up the disturbances, the other will be watching the negotiations between the UK and EU. Playing safe The London Metal Exchange has an office on the 7th Floor, MYP Centre, 9 Battery Road, Singapore, although it’s not as if they do not already have one foot in the negotiations.

Escape

Let’s go on a journey and never come back.

The Bridge Builder’s Son

Stood 800 feet overlooking the River Tees on the peak of the Transporter Bridge. A closeness beyond life. A moment of pure clarity as to why he was standing transfixed, arms outstretched in a christ-like crucifixion pose. Inhale, deep breath, the chill plummeted into his masculine chest like a thousand razor blades degrading all the shivering resilience he was able to muster.

Exhale, warm breath evaporates from his lips to be lost in the orbiting world of colliding satellites, which sail haphazardly above him in the north sky and its carpet of stars. The perplexed matrix of lights from homes, industrial estates, office blocks and shopping centres surrounded his landscape. Flickering dots, the headlights of cars cascading through the urban, barren streets of Teesside.

Below him, the industrial nightshift belches out its obnoxious clouds of smoke and flames, a dancing pyre cavorting with the rhythm that will soon be daylight. Silence, only broken by a gentle breeze, which swirls between the ribs of the bridge and his hair. This bridge is a testimony to resistance, her untouched remorse formed by the regrets of pitted souls belonging to the hardest of men who laboured to bring her to birth.

Unlike the lives, she once touched she bares no consequence of time but static she remains. Once she stood amongst the toils of labour. Now she casts a deep shadow over the sterile conformities of carparks, shopping centres and cheap alcohol redemptions, which paper cracks with little sincerity.

Intimating primal childhood fears, a mesmerising steel monster sitting alongside the insecurities of her riverbanks, weeping with remorse. The empty streets, industrial units and vacant pubs where the ghosts of landlords celebrate the wages of lost generations. Scaling the bridge every step recoiled in memory for his father now missed. A bond rooted in love and the gentleness that had guided him from boy too man. Perched on top, the river flows like black blood below him. Unzipping his backpack, removing the canister secured inside. Closing eyes, he whispers words, “I love you, dad.” His father’s ashes drift downwards in the open sky and into the black blooded river. There to be washed out and to return on the evening tide where the Bridge Builder will wait for his son.

End of Days

There is something truly immersive about an empty beach during the winter months, especially in the mornings waiting for the world to wake around you. When silence is only broken by the waves and the occasional bird seeking its breakfast.

Earth Suite: Assassin of Sound

The photograph, design & layout work for the album Earth Suite by Assassin of Sound, along with a link to the album and the various draft ideas produced for the project.

 

16.12.19: The Magic Lantern & Pete Roe

Properly my last proper gig of the year, but ending on a high note. I realised tonight that I may have overindulged this year on what some may refer to as “difficult music.”   The essence of a beautiful song with its woven lyrics, delivered with real heart and sincerity was in abundance tonight at the Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol. The Magic Lantern and Pete Roe. Beautiful.

 

Shoreline

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