Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Month: January 2017

A Korff Christening

On Sunday I acquired a Goddaughter, Audrey. I was delighted to accept when Alex and Suzi asked me. Duties are split with Sarah (far right) and Claudia, who was a little too preoccupied with giving birth to attend!

The service was at St George’s on Hannover Square, the same church where Alex and Suzi got married. Audrey was perfectly behaved through the service…

…whilst her brother Max was a bit of a tearaway!

Rounding out our Christening party was David’s son, Henry. Suzi had suggested the joint Christening to knock all three out at once, which was the perfect excuse for a party afterwards.

I had significant doubts as to whether Sarah would actually give Audrey up by the end of the day.

Gen is Max’s Godmother but Audrey seemed equally comfortable with her.

I have known Alex’s dad, Douwe, since Alex and Suzi got engaged. He is an international law professor and human rights specialist so picking his brain is always fascinating.

Suzi’s decidedly international cake was her quiet protest against Trump.

A full Sunday roast at the RAF Club.

The lens was turned on me occasionally when my camera slipped my grasp.

Henry’s Godmother, Sara, deserves a shot since she took the photo of me.

Audrey and Suzi looking fabulous.

In Defence of Millennials

Lately I have seen a resurgence in comments denouncing the coddled, lazy, entitled Millennials but now, rather than coming from the older generation, they are coming from mine. First up, there is no real definition as to what constitutes a “Millennial” but broadly it covers those born from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. That means a lot of the people denouncing Millennials are unknowingly part of the group themselves. I think it is fair to say that largely they intend it to apply to those younger than them, those who passed through university just behind us.

A video recently circulated in which Simon Sinek weighed in with his apparent insights on “the Millennial question”. It takes little effort to find inconsistencies. He highlights participation medals (of which I am not a fan), criticising them because those who win them know they are not worth anything and so feel worse, but then explains that on entering the real world “in an instant their entire self-image is shattered”. Sinek has discovered Schrödinger’s medal, which makes one feel simultaneously special and worthless, identifiable only once he knows which serves his point at the time. Meanwhile instant gratification means people will “skip seasons [of a TV show] just so they can binge at the end of the season”. By which he perfectly describes delayed gratification: holding off so that you can later enjoy something the way you want.

Later on, Sinek makes a few interesting (although not novel) points about corporate culture and social use of technology. They have nothing to do with Millennials but without that contextualisation his “insights” cannot be packaged as anything other than relatively banal observations. Ultimately Sinek’s best-case scenario for Millennials is that they will be “an entire population growing up and going through life and just never really finding joy”.  That demonstrates incredible condescension and, frankly, a remarkable lack of imagination.

So what about those two common accusations of laziness and entitlement that Millennials face from society at large?

Much criticism seems to come from the fact that many Millennials move back home and live with their parents long into their twenties, well after they ought to have moved out. They expect their parents to be able to provide this for them even though their parents had struck out on their own by that age. This cannot be assessed without considering the underlying economic reality. University graduates are now leaving education with colossal debt as a result of huge tuition fees that their parents were never required to pay and then voted to introduce. They are entering a job market decimated by a financial crisis in which they played no part. They are likely to be the first generation to earn less than the previous one. Meanwhile their parents profited from buying cheap property, while reducing Government spending on new housing, resulting in a broken housing market as prices continue to spiral. Already saddled with huge debts and limited job prospects, where else are Millennials expected to live?

Not only are job opportunities limited in the current economy, but Millennials are being expected to work in unpaid internships because there are apparently no jobs for them without existing experience. So let us be clear: a generation received free education then chose to withdraw it from anyone else, they ruined the housing market whilst profiting themselves, and they caused a financial crisis that ruined the economy. And now they expect Millennials inheriting this mess to work for free.

I agree that there is absolutely a problem with entitlement. Just not where most people are pointing fingers.

 

The Photogenic Side of 2016

It strikes me that in the past year the site has seen an unusually stark contrast between posts here tending to deal with unfortunate real world events and the Artist section featuring a string of weddings (exhaustingly so!) and children. To redress the balance, I thought I’d collect some of the brighter moments of 2016 in a brief photo essay, sharing some comments and perhaps highlighting a few images that may have gone unnoticed.

I made two trips to Amsterdam this year as a result of work retreats. In March Lizzy showed me the non-tourist side of the city. This is not a stitched panorama but rather one of my favourite uses of the fisheye lens I bought last year, with judicious cropping and retaining an undistorted horizon.

There were also two USA trips this year. The first was for Alexis and John Michael’s wedding. On a day when Karleigh looked particularly grown-up as a bridesmaid borrowing my jacket, my favourite shot of her was one of childish excitement as she shook a Polaroid.

Whiling away golden hour during Clark’s football practice provided a great set of photos but I love the quiet strength in this shot of Jenna.

Visiting the supposedly haunted Myrtles’ House, we found a baby turtle in the gardens around the lake which brought the three kids together. It is another fisheye favourite that would not have felt as intimate with any other lens.

“Hello Ladies” – My Godson Simon could not resist his curiosity at his sister’s Christening. Why did so many people seem to be disappearing through this door?

The second US trip was to catch Matt O in New York during his Clipper round-the-world yacht race. One of my favourite NYC buildings is Radio City, a few blocks from Times Square, for the way it is illuminated at night.

The moving memorial at Ground Zero was filled with tourists and kids taking selfies. It spurred me to find a more respectful shot and eventually this is what I produced. The experience made me realise that 15 years have now passed so, for the children visiting the memorial, they have no memory of the event beyond stories which they have been told.

Weddings took me all around the country this year. Adam and Gaby chose Portland, which hosted sailing events during the 2012 Olympics.

House of Burlesque’s show at the Wonderground Spiegeltent is always a highlight each summer and this year I shot them for the first time. I am used to low light from shooting gigs, but the combined rapid movement of the performers made it a real challenge, though I was happy with the results. Here is one of the less risqué shots, from the moody “Absinthe” act.

Becca and Rob had perfect weather for their summer wedding in Bracknell. This was my favourite shot, described generously by one friend as capturing the essence of summer.

A round number and three years since I last threw a birthday party, it seemed time for another. Taking inspiration from Alexis and John Michael, an instant camera produced some fantastic intimate snaps from the Americana-themed night. As much a night to remember as my 27th at Volupté.

On my earlier trip to Amsterdam, Lizzy introduced me to the Tuschinski Theatre, a beautiful purpose built cinema replete throughout with a combination of art deco and art nouveau details. On my second visit I arranged a tour, photographing all of the interior.

It has long been a goal to explore some of the disused tube tunnels that run under my city. This year I did it twice. Most interesting were these travel posters, preserved since the 1960s.

Work required me to travel frequently to travel to Chester in the latter half of the year. Fortunately, I swiftly found a hidden speakeasy cocktail bar and became acquainted with the staff. Darkness and candles led to this shot in which the ice in my Old Fashioned seems to burn – “A Song of Ice and Fire”.

The Google Pixel sports the first phone camera really to impress me. This afternoon of gardening with Simon and Abi sold me. Not that there is any danger of my SLR being relegated.

I acquired a second Godchild in 2016. A third may be forthcoming, but that will be a 2017 story. Wilfred seemed thoroughly to enjoy his photoshoot with Alex after the service, which bodes well for my camera in future.

Jack and Katherine’s wedding was an interesting one since I knew them both independently, prior to their meeting at work. Although the barn was beautifully lit, one of my favourite shots was in the dreary outdoors, of Katherine glancing back through the crowd.

Closing out the year with gingerbread baking? That’s just how Abigail rolls…

I hope you enjoyed this set, which was in part to experiment with the flexibility offered by the last site redesign. In the coming year I will endeavour to produce similar photo essays pulling out key shots from larger galleries with commentary, where a full post may not be warranted.

Resolutionary Road

Well, 2016 is finally over and, if you are reading this, it looks as though you survived it. The New Year celebrations brought proclamations that 2017 had to be a better year. I certainly hope that is true but, if so, it means we have a lot of work to do in order to clean up the mess left in 2016’s wake. Disney reportedly has a $50 million insurance payout with which to address Carrie Fisher’s presence is Episode IX of Star Wars, but amongst the various treats bestowed by 2016 we still need to deal with navigating Brexit, the commencement of a Trump Presidency and rebuilding Syria should the current ceasefire hold. We can certainly make 2017 a better year than its predecessor but let us not pretend it will be an easy one. Instead, let us roll up our sleeves and embrace these challenges now that we are prepared for them.

I am not generally one for New Year’s resolutions. If you want to do something, you will do it anyway, so the practice has always seemed more like setting oneself up for failure with most resolutions lying in tatters by the end of January. On the other hand, it does offer an opportunity for interesting endeavours based on the calendar year. In other words, for me resolutions are for frivolous projects.

My film watchlist has gradually grown to well over 300 and, although I knock off many each year, overall the list continues to grow. With time off in the week leading up to the New Year I have managed to watch a film on the list each day, which inspired a resolution of sorts for next year: to watch one film from the list each week. That would guarantee 52 films removed from the list by the end of the year. Undoubtedly new films will be added during the year (and invariably I will be watching a lot of “non-list” films) but hopefully this will result in a net reduction rather than unfettered growth. I am not prioritising any particular films on the list and it will likely be guided by availability on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

My intention is to check in with periodic updates on progress. I hope you will enjoy the journey even if, in the venerable tradition of New Year’s resolutions, I fail spectacularly. If you have made any interesting resolutions, whether serious or frivolous, feel free to share.

Meanwhile, for no particular reason, here is a recipe for the Corpse Reviver #2, my preferred hair-of-the-dog cocktail. It strikes me as a fitting cocktail not just for today but for 2017 in general.

1 part gin
1 part Cointreau
1 part Lillet Blanc
1 part fresh lemon juice
1 dash absinthe
Glass: cocktail
Garnish: orange peel

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled glass and garnish.

"You shouldn't trust the storyteller; only trust the story."

(CC) BY-NC 2005-2017 Priyan Meewella

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