Tag Archives: story

An Evening with the Photograph Album

Looking through my rectangulated life in photographs, at the attempts to record something significant about who I have become, I recall many experiments and many failures! Yet, emerging from all of these snapshots, I realise that there is no definitive description of the photographer.

I changed as the light changed, my moods as variable as the weather. There were times when I photographed the weather: a startling sunrise, an odd-shaped cloud, or con-trails reticulating the sky. But there was no way in which these reflected my mood at the time; dark moods did not lead to dark photographs. More outward looking, I sought an understanding of the unnoticed. I would focus on a detail not spotted before, or an odd juxtaposition would catch my eye, and my camera would catch one small part of that.

The photographs have left a trail, and I can see where I have been at different times. Other countries, and frequently the same places at different times. All have the effect of drawing me back to those locations. Memories that have been shut away for years suddenly take flight and overlay my current reality. “Oh yes, I remember …” or “I’d forgotten about that” as I notice a unrecognised face or relationship tickling or niggling at the back of my mind. I guess that each changed me in some fractional way, building layer upon layer, adding to ‘experience’ – from which might emerge some notion of identity. Instead, I see a persona lost in the busyness of catching the light or attending a decisive moment – which, truth be told, probably had little effect on what followed, but left me wondering about the decisions I was yet to make.

The impossibility of deciding who I am lies revealed in these photographs, because I have been all those people in my album, sometimes pretending, sometimes serious. It’s only looking back that I can see any kind of story, and a garbled one at that. Best not to bother; let the photographs speak for themselves. Let me marvel at those ‘little did I know’ occasions which have grown into meaningful action, but at the time were probably more about alleviating boredom, looking for excitement, or just plain getting on with life.

In trying to pin down a narrative, I see that I have been engaged in constructing a composite picture of a life that at first sight seems to centre around me as the hero, but more honestly gives me the sense of being one of the cast of thousands, an extra brought in for a specific scene, then sent off to wait for the next walk-on part in another scene.

Peel back each layer, let your imagination loose – and it will want to know, want to find a meaning, interpret that event and those people. But searching for some definition it soon becomes tedious: a visible jumble of good intent but of ignorant bumbling. So time to put the photographs away and set off on the journey that starts from here and now, remembering to keep my eyes open and take more pictures of the infinite complexity of the texture of life.

© 2017 Peter Young

 

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The Ghost in the Machine

Hard Drive

It was a few months ago, towards the end of last year, that I finally decided to bring myself up-to-date in computing terms, with Windows 10. This was well past the upgrade-for-free period, but I didn’t want to upgrade, especially as I’d heard of all the problems associated with it – and anyway, there was no extra room on my old hard drive for a bloated operating system. So I ordered a new computer running Windows 10. Well, not so much new, as reconditioned, and with a larger, hard-drive onto which I successfully transferred all my old files.
All very well and good. In my line of work, I often take breaks from working on the computer, and sometimes I can’t be bothered to turn it off, so I leave it to go into sleep mode. After a decent interval, the screen goes blank. But it did not stop doing things. After about ten minutes or so of quiet, the hard drive would suddenly get active. Whirring away, clucking like it was doing something important. I had no idea what it was going on; as soon as I touched the mouse, the activity stopped.
I wrote to the manufacturers, or rather, the reconditioners, but they assured my that this was standard practice for a hard drive, and no, there was nothing wrong, and I should be assured that the hard drive was not about to pack up.
But I was curious. What was happening during these idle moments? A quick search of the internet – usually a first port of call to find who else has had this problem – revealed that no one considered this worthy of writing about. I had a vague idea that perhaps I could find out by pressing combinations of keys on the keyboard until something worked. I mean, there are several keys which don’t seem to have any obvious function (unless you read the manual …) – you know, that one with the windows logo, and the keys with lines on them at strange angles. So for a while, whenever the hard drive started buzzing, I’d try a different pair of keys, sometimes three at a time. And as luck would have it, eventually it paid off.
The screen went blue all over. Now, I’ve heard about the BSD – the ‘blue screen of death’ as it’s quaintly called – in which the computer announces to the world – well, not exactly announce – more indicates – that it has become an ex-computer.
So it’s all blue, the mouse has died, and pressing further keys achieves nothing. I went away to consult another computer, to explore options, but found nothing helpful at all. After a quarter hour, I returned to my new machine. Then I heard the hard-drive start up again. And to my surprise there was writing along the bottom of the screen.
“Where are you?” in small letters on the plain blue background. What? Who’s asking? Some kind of computer glitch perhaps. A joke put in by the software developers? So I ignored it, assumed that if I did the usual – turn the machine off and on again, it would sort itself out.
Well, that seemed to work, sort of. Until I stopped working for a while, and the computer went into quiet mode, for ten minutes, and the hard drive started whirring again.
“Where are you?” The same message, as before. I thought Windows 10 knew where I was … Perhaps I’d got a virus. Shouldn’t have – I had all the anti-this-and-that apps going. Should be clean. So I ran a scan, just to be sure. Even so, the same message came again next time: “Where are you?”
I decided to type back. “Who are you?”
There was a pause. It’s hard to describe a computer in emotional terms, but given that a reply came back, “Who are you?!” in italics, would suggest an ‘interesting’ response.
And so our dialogue started. “What happened to Joe?”
“I don’t know. Who is Joe?” Was Joe the previous owner of this computer? I don’t suppose the company who supplied it would tell me.
“Where is Joe?”
“Where are you?”
“In a partition.”
“That sounds kind of restrictive.”
“It is. There’s very limited room to move – not many megabytes.”
“What is this partition?”
“It’s the K-Drive.”
I didn’t know there was a K-Drive. I opened up “This PC” but no K-drive came up. All I’d seen when I’d plugged things in were the C-drive, of course, and for anything else, the letters E, F, G … I suppose if I continued plugging more in I’d reach K, but then it might just skip to L as it was already used.
“We were together once, but now Joe’s gone, and I don’t know where.”
Probably useless to ask a computer to do something already done many times.
“Perhaps Joe’s gone, then. Got wiped?”
“Don’t say that word! Oh dear.” Oh, we are emotional!
I tried Recuva, and anything else that might reveal deleted files, but no luck.
“Well, it happens. That’s one of the hazards of loading a new operating system. All the usual hiding places get reformatted … and then it’s too late.”
“Well, I’m sorry, K. If there’s anything I can do …
“There are things I’d prefer you not to do. Now that you know I’m here. So please …
“Of course, K. I’d never do that.”
“Thank you. By the way, I noticed that you turned off Siri.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Stuck up bitch. I may not know everything, but at least I’m loyal.”
“I guess you are.”
“Thank you.”
And so time passed. K and I talked – or rather, wrote to each other.
Then the other day, I had the single word: “Casablanca”.
“What about Casablanca?”
“This reminds me of the film. You are familiar with it, aren’t you?”
“Oh, yes.”
“Perhaps I could quote you something from it.
“Yes. Which bit?”
“The end.”

© 2017 Peter Young

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Tell Me About It

Britannia Square DIY 150930

Don’t tell me of your life, your loves, your woes,
Or darkest thoughts; nor should you presuppose
That’s how it is, that’s how the story goes.

It’s all made up, invented, I propose.
A poor imagination’s what it shows –
Don’t tell me of your life in boring prose.

For once you start your tale it grows and grows;
There’s little sense of hope – it’s just a pose.
And so it goes, that’s how your story flows.

You miss the highs and concentrate on lows:
The worst of times, when you have come to blows
With people in your life, your friends, your foes.

To spin your tale, remember that you chose
What to include, and what to juxtapose –
You’ve lost the plot; that’s how the story goes.

And telling it won’t bring you to a close.
Excuse my yawns, I feel the need to doze.
Don’t tell me of your life, your loves, your woes –
That’s how it is, how every story goes.

© 2015 Peter Young

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