4. Blog

Initial thoughts

[10Mar21] Text and images. At a loss until now, but as my extra homework for Asg.2, I’m writing about uniforms and this might fly. I wrote in the early hours of this morning. It approximates to:

Uniforms of employment + office
Uniforms of choice
Uniforms of punishment
of rebellion
of protection
of pride in the past (retired army)
Morris men
Teddy boys
Literal meaning

Go back and read Asg.2 as I’ve only just started it, but there’s also the I-Spy angle.

Police interesting – recognition & function, then plainclothes for other tasks Derivative security firms (uniforms of spurious authority
night club bouncers are curious too – reminds of early BBC radio announcers in formal evening dress.

[13Mar] Uniform to be noticed (gilets jaunes) or disguised (camo).

[15Mar] Sporting, cycling, lycra, letts column, football jerseys an industry Stop bossing me! Why I quit the parochial church council (and more tales of modern Britain)

Be wary of illustrating your text with pictures and vice versa. Allow for the viewers’ interpretation to be opened up rather than shut down by the pairings. You may decide not to include the actual words in the final production; that’s fine, as long as they have in some way informed the research and development of the concepts and have pushed the imagery further as a result.

I&P, pp.107

Given my propensity for literalness (literality, textuality) and representation the ‘You may decide not to include the actual words’ might be wise.


[4Apr] A second idea – start it anyway because it runs into a possible Asg5. Look at the notes in the brown booklet. Eltham EP to SL, suburban development, time lapse new and old.


I-SPY

[1May] Here’s the I-Spy People in Uniform

The book was published the year after I was born, so its contents a familiar to me, but society (and people, and jobs, and uniforms) have changed a great deal in those 65 years.

The uniforms covered in the book are listed below and I will comment on the likely candidates for the Assignment.

#PageRoleComments
13-4Boy scouts6 types, regular, Sea, Air and Scottish (kilt), hat variants and a Queen’s scout. Although I have a DBS certificate for my debt advice work, I think it unwise to start photographing children in uniform or asking permission to do so. If it happened to be around armistice day, I could fill this one, but not until then.
25-6Girl GuidesRegular, plus Land, Sea and Air Rangers, Queen’s Badges and Lady Cubmasters. see #1.
37, 9Wolf Cubs, Browniesand proficiency badges. see #1.
48Boy’s BrigadeRegular and Queen’s Badge. see #1.
510Girl’s Life Brigadesee #1.
611Church Lad’s BrigadeRegular and Juniors. see #1.
712Salvation ArmySalvationist and Woman Salvationist. It’s a possibility. Christmas would be easier. Do they still collect in pubs on Saturday night? (well, obviously not under Covid restrictions, but would they if they could?
813Church ArmyCaptains and Sisters. I have never heard of these.
914-15St. John Ambulance Brigade.I-Spy lists a Sergeant, Private, Girl Cadet and Boy Cadet. And cadet badges. Armistice day would again be favourite, but maybe they still cover public gatherings, when hey start happening again.
1016-17MedicalNurses, District nurse and Ambulance driver. In with a chance here.
1118-19WVS & Red Crossis that still a thing?
1220Post officePostman & Young postman. No such thing as a telegram these days, but a postperson should be easy.
1321on the busesBus conductor and ticket inspector. I don’t think we have those any more.
1422-23RailwaysTicket collector, Porter, Guard, Station master. Just a bunch in yellow tabards chatting at the ticket barrier these days, but there are the people who wave ping-pong bats to the driver. Steam enthusiasts would be good at uniforms.
1524-26AirlinesAir stewardess and flight captain. BOAC ranks and insignia. Possible but tricky, without actually flying somewhere.
1627-28CoastguardsRegular, Captain and District Officer, ranks and insignia.
1730CustomsNow the Border Force.
1831Civil DefenceMale and female uniforms
1932FiremanJust regular. I’ll try asking at my local branch.
2033PoliceHigher ranks. Could be tricky, hanging around New Scotland Yard waiting for Ms. Dick to appear.
2134Railway PoliceIt might be Transport police now. Possible.
2235Zoo keeperI disapprove of zoos. I’m certainly not paying to enter one, though I may nose around Regents Park.
2335UtilitiesIt says, “Water, Gas, Electricity. Many of these employees wear uniform; Count your score for … for any one of them.”
2436Park KeeperI’m not sure that’s a thing any more but you sometimes see council workers tending the flower beds.
2536BandsmenFirst find a bandstand or a parade. The Sally Army could be the place, were it Christmas.
2637RSPCAStill active, but probably only a fleece and a tabard.
2738HotelCommissionaire and Page Boy (I thought it was a Bell Boy). Both possible in the right part of London.
2839Bank MessengerPresumably online now, but I’ll ask/
2939ChauffeurShould be easy enough, but a uniform?
3040Religious ordersMonks, friars and nuns. Maybe.
3141The LawJudges and barristers. Possible.
3242Tower of LondonWarders and guards. Expensive.
3343Chelsea PensionerPossible.
3443The Blue-Coat BoyI had never heard of this. It is (or was) a school uniform for some public schools that derived from charitable schools. According to Wikipedia (2019), “Only one school in England, Christ’s Hospital, still uses bluecoat uniform as normal day wear.”
It might be worth a try, but it’s in Horsham.
3544SheriffBack to Wikipedia (2021), “The sheriffs live in the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey”. Unlikely but possible.
3645ChurchBishop, Dean or Archdeacon
3745Cap and GownAcademics – unlikely these days, except on graduation.
3846School HatNot a school cap, I-Spy points out, although they are pretty rare these days. Harrow is their example – the other side of town.
numpagetexttext

I’ll take a look at the later edition too, but just note the possible candidates – it is not so uniform oriented. And no page numbers. It begins with a lot of overlap, and then,

#PageRoleComments
39Blind personWith a dog. That’s probably not considered good form theses days.
40Morris dancersWrong time of year.
41GlassesPince-nez and a monocle. Unlikely
42Facial hairMoustache and a beard. OK.
43A Star PersonalityThe illustration looks like Adam Faith signing autographs. We’ll see.
44Press PhotographersPaparazzi
45The JockeyNot my thing. I have never been to a horse race.
46SportsmanThe illustration is a footballer
47ClownI’m not much of a one for circuses either, but i might find a street performer.
48ScotsmanIn a kilt. There’s usually a busker with bagpipes somewhere in town.
49A Character.Any eccentric seems to fit he bill.

The penultimate two pages are remarkable. I-Spy racial stereotypes – Scandinavian, Latin, Slav, Indian, Negro, Arab, Mongolian, Indonesian.

[13May] I have created a page of images from the I-Sky book that I’ll laminate as A5 and carry around to help explain the project.

The plan is:
• ignore any uniformed children as the nation of an old man photographing children in any setting is likely lead to investigation and possible prosecution, even if a sensible explanation is available †. Understandably, as I-Spy is a project for children, they often feature in the targets.
• a trip to Westminster will cover armed police (see Exc. 1.4), railway personnel, St. Thomas hospital, perhaps a bus driver.
• Along the Strand would probably net a hotel doorman, probably not a Bell-bay, maybe a chauffeur.
• Further along for the Royal court might get some legal folk but a judge will be tricky and might need the Spy Pen.
• I’ll ask at my local fire station and if they say no, just be on the lookout.
• Similarly, if my postman turns me down, I’ll just keep asking others
• text

† If I decide to pursue the project, I can have a try on Armistice day at the local War memorial.

Jottings

[9May] Then and now – drag in Barthes

[27May – Thu] If the weather holds I might venture to town tomorrow for a first run. Stop off at London Bridge on the way for a railway person with a lollipop signalling device. On to Charing Cross for the railway ticket supervisors. Then either along the Strand for the hotel workers and maybe a chauffeur or down to Parliament Sq for armed police and maybe the Scotsman. The Royal Courts of Justice are further along the Strand, but cameras are probably prohibited, requiring the Spy Pen Camera, not deployed since C&N Asg.2.

I notice from the Summary of proposed changes for Academic Year 2021/22 that, “Replace current assessment with 3 new criteria of Knowledge, Understanding and Application. Ensure existing Learning Outcomes are clearly mapped to the new assessment criteria.” I’m in support of that, but not, “All reference material will be relocated to OCAlearn resources and will be wholly digital”.
I responded to the survey, “I am entirely in favour of trying again with these definitions because both the previous assessment criteria and the current learning outcomes are ill-defined, manifest overlaps and confuse many of the students I have contact with, and confuse me particularly … I strongly oppose [the second] suggestion. It should be online, of course, but the printed course material is a vital learning aid.”
I think I’ll be an early adopter of the new criteria in my reflections.

[15June] With 5 weeks to go, I need to get organised on this as most targets require travel.
1. I’ll bemoan the lack of proximity to Armistice Day once more before moving on.
2. There used to be flocks of Lycra-clad cycling groups swooping down Eltham Hill at weekends in early Covid days, but I have not noticed any lately. Similarly Eltham Joggers – I’ll check their web site – https://www.nejrunningclub.co.uk/.
3. Chelsea Pensioners, probably not worth the effort of a journey across town on the off chance
4. Beefeaters at the TofL worth a try (I still have a virus deficit there) – concession entry £23 – unlikely. Is it worth trying from the road overlooking the site? it’s a long way to walk from London Bridge station.
5. Sally Army – given up, what happened to the common courtesy of replying to emails
6. I’m due a scan at the end of the month at Lewisham Hospital- worth a try there
7-8. Post Office – still needs doing and chauffeurs – to see two chatting I need a posh bun fight, unlikely
9-11. Scotsman, bouncer, road-menders
12. Sunday football – older players – cricket? Good outing for a long lens
13 And I need a recent police shot. Next trip off to HofParl weekday for police, possible Scots busker and there have to be some road works not far away – next time Mrs. B is at the gym (the gym itself does not tend towards lycra). And St Thomas is just over the bridge. Wednesday next week (23rd) is a possibility.

The theory needs to explore how uniform use has changed to be identity of choice rather than a job requirement.

[19Jun] I am drafting the submission text and have just written,
“A motif that appeared early in the project was subjects in conversation and this soon reached the point that I was trying to contrive all of my photographs with two similarly-uniformed people in conversing, combined with a surveillance aesthetic by using long lenses at some distance. At the time of writing (19th June), I am aiming for mostly conversing, uniformed pairs, with the exception of my kilted bagpipe busker prospect.”

[20Jun] Eltham Cricket Club (“wg grace used to play for us!”) play close to where I live and they have a series of home fixtures over the next few weekends. I can envisage images of batsmen in whites chatting between overs and the slip cordon during overs, perhaps an umpire wearing several players’ spare clothing chatting to a fielder: or am I living in the past – it’s a while since I have attended a cricket match, the last test match I had tickets for was in Nottingham while my son was revising for GCSEs, so that’s nearly 20 years ago (we didn’t get to the match). Today’s ECC match was rained off, but there should be a chance to use this for the sportsman rather than the footballer featured in the later I-Spy book.
I hope to get a visit to London on Weds 23rd, probably HofParl and environs. See Batch 3.

[28Jun] A good day at Eltham Cricket Club yesterday. With about 4 weeks left, I have two decent prospects, medical and a (non-conversational) bagpiper. I jotted the full range of possibilities today as — Food delivery, Roadworks, Bouncers, Office smokers suits, Hospital, Scot, Street entertainers.

[1Jul] a gradually-evolving definition sprang piecemeal to mind while wheeling the grandson to the shops this morning,

An agreed or merely practical unity or similarity of appearance arising from commonality of employment, belief, activity or purpose.

[4Jul] Two weeks left for photography. The weather forecast for the next 5 days is unpromising.

[11th July] I will prepare my Assignment Submission using the images to hand and adjust if any others materialise before submission on 25th. Then straight on with Asg.5 and mop up anything unfinished. I had always thought I would submit in November but have asked Student Services for clarification of the rules in case I need to delay that. I have to finish Asg.5 and get feedback by 1st October.

[16Jul] I’ll submit this next week and run Batch 7 as a rolling batch for any late arrivals. As mentioned in the submission text, this will be an ongoing project for which this assignment is a preliminary report. To town for other reasons today, but encountered police on horseback and a posh wedding at St. Martin in the Fields.

[date] text


Batches

Batch #01

Contact sheets

[28May] It is always a relief to make a start, however good the outcomes. As anticipated, this outing took in London Bridge and Charing Cross Stations and then a walk along the Strand for the Savoy Hotel. London Bridge worked well for the pingpong bat signals to the driver. I had intended to photograph barrier staff at Charing Cross, but that’s where things got interesting. I was interrupted by a security operative who told me that I could not photograph there. I always travel with my RPS Know Your Rights card (fig. B01) which I duly brandished and was then told I had to sign in and produce identity, following which I was given a Contractor Pass that I hoped to keep as a souvenir, but had to hand back (fig. B01-2).

I intend to show, evaluate and select the images for Asg.4 by subject and so they are shown separately as –

Railway – Hotel

I wrote to the local Salvation Army church in nearby Welling to ask about photographing uniforms but, as with most of the Eltham Clergy for Asg.2, no reply. There is some sort of SA HQ near St Paul’s, so I might call in.

It will be seen that a leitmotif of chatting is developing, so we will also need links to –

Salvation Army – Police

[29May] My experience at Charing Cross has prompted a decision to photograph at least some of my images furtively and include pairs in conversation. This is drifting, at an early stage, from my original stated documentary purpose but that is, as Fox Talbot observed, one of the charms of the craft. This avenue should not be a commitment and other final outcomes should remain in play.
I suppose it plays into the broader notion of I-Spy, and it does not help that I am watching old episodes of BBC’s Spooks (2002-2011) at this time. I am getting to like this idea.

[6Jun] A thought for another target. At Eltham rail station and bus terminus, the bus parking area is overlooked from the main road and this would provide a possible vantage point to photograph bus drivers chatting as they finish their cigarettes before setting off for another round trip.


Batch #02

Contact sheets

[7Jun] I tried the buses today. The drivers seemed less inclined to chat than when I’m waiting at the bus stop.

Buses


Batch #03

Contact sheets

[23Jun] I have not yet looked at the Batch 3 images in detail, but the trip to town was a success in terms of subject matter. Some army uniforms at Horseguards, unusually, female ceremonial mounted guards, though not in conversation due to the requirements of the task. I hadn’t realised that Wednesday with PMQs results in more activity and woodwork emergence around Downing St and Parliament Sq than usual at midday. I witnessed (presumably) Boris’s cavalcade sweep out of the former, past a small demonstrating of airline staff. At ParlSq, there were a surprising number of remainers, including the famed Steve (fig. B03.19) with a megaphone and plenty of bile to go around [24Jun I hadn’t realised until I heard the news later on that yesterday was the 5th anniversary of the Brexit vote]. On the grass where the media village used to be pre-Brexit (see EyV Asg.3) there were many more airline staff which means a visit to Heathrow will not be necessary. Both pilots (or people dressed therelike) and stewards (I imagine we no longer have -esses) were in abundance, including some remarkably red (and excessively made-up) Branson-ettes. I photographed some police but, again, they appeared unwilling and I didn’t press it. On the was home I encountered some St. John’s Ambulance chuggers which ticks two boxes. I look forward to inspecting the contacts.

As there is a range of subjects I will look at the shortlist here first. All made today, they are organised by time within category.


Batch #04

Contact sheets

[28Jun] A productive afternoon at Eltham Cricket Club yesterday, although it did look like being rained off at one stage. There is only one subject so they are processed under Cricket.


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Batch #05

Contact sheets

[3Jul] Nothing doing at the hospital last week, the site seemed deserted but I did photograph some food delivery persons while waiting for the bus home. Today (Saturday) I ventured to the High Street, for more food deliveries and the road works, if they worked weekends, but the don’t.

There had been an accident on the High Street, a car hitting a motor bike (perhaps on a delivery). This happened yards from the Fire Station and so I photographed fire persons clearing the road on the way up and police persons at the site on the way back.