A Fan for Life

Never ever allow me to hear a bad word said against the NHS again!
For so many our cherished NHS and the wonderful people who manage it have been the only means that ordinary folk have had to access professional Health Care, unlike too many of our politicians who likely enjoy the benefits of “private” health care. It would be a fascinating exercise to one day conduct a poll to find out just how many have sunk their funds (no doubt drawn from their MP’s “expenses”) to pay for private health care whereas far too many of us poor lot are entirely dependent upon the NHS for any form of professional care whatsoever. Moreover an NHS that has been stripped of resources by one successive Government after another! Consequently, once they’ve secured their “Mandate” from us “they” decide our hard-earned cash can be spent elsewhere, like, for example, Iraq or Afghanistan. And it’s ALL OUR FAULT because we were stupid enough to vote them in. If there’s no other reason whatsoever such a crazy system is sufficient for us to Demand a fairer way of curbing the “mandate” of these politicians who, at the end of the day, should be no more than “Administrators”! Surely there can be no more compelling reason for all of us to Insist upon a much more representative method of political representation than that which prevails at present! I can speak on this with some authority simply because I too have recently had cause to avail myself of this wonderful service, a service where professional folk, Trained folk, actually Do Care and Genuinely Want to help – but can’t because our so-called “leaders” have spent our money elsewhere! Yep! I too have recently had cause to avail myself of the NHS and have been appalled to discover just how stripped down it has become! Strapped for cash and with just one person to deal with multiple situations – virtually simultaneously! This is simply not acceptable! And so I decided to publish this as a genuine photodocumentary project – complete with a few semi-covertly obtained images! (That’s the photographic connection just in case anyone misses it!)

One of the apalling abuses (or so it seems to me) is that of the porters. Some may consider them of little consequence although they perform the invaluable task of transporting patients from one place to another in the hospital. So I calculate that they must walk miles in the course of a day. “Naturally,” I comment “you must get given a shoe allowance as part of your uniform” “Oh no,” they reply, “unless we remember to include it in our tax code then we have to pay for them ourselves!”

Another is that of the nurses and other ward staff. They appear to work a minimum 12 hour shift with an extra (or so it seemed to me) 20 minutes or so changeover period. And yet they are not even given a free lunch. They have to pay the hospital back for it. Out of their own pocket! Bloody disgusting!

Posted in Issues, Photography Chat, Thoughts | 9 Comments

Another day another dollar…

another month another… mollar? No, that’s not right. In fact, its plain damn stupid. [Best I get my head sorted out before someone finally susses that I’ve totally lost the plot.]

Anyway, the point being… here we are, another month, and another update from Mikeland. This seems to be getting to be a bit of a habit. Oh well.

So there I am, beginning to score some significant points off this ’ere ’orribleness of mine when what goes and happens? Wham, just like that? Bloody feet and legs decide to start playing silly buggers. Why, how, what? Dunno… not yet at least, although I’ll sus it in time. But for the past 3-4 weeks I’ve been hobbling around with a walking stick like some decrepit old codger. Guess a Zimmer frame will be the next stage!

Hmm. Decrepit old codger eh? Well now, p’raps there’s a bit more truth to that than I’d care to… nope! Not having any of it. Soon as I get all this crap out of the way I’ll be back on form again, prancing around like some… like some… like some lunatic who doesn’t know his own age. And no doubt with uglymug bullying me once again (for some bizarre reason he seems to have laid off that the past few months. Can’t imagine why).

But this walking stick bullshit is actually the very last thing I needed. On top of everything else. Guess these things are sent to try us, though at the mo’ it’s proving bloody difficult trying to find the silver lining to this particular dark cloud.

Though, as regards the why, the horrible little recollection keeps popping into my brain of past conversations… conversations with friends who have related to me nasty little tales of aging life-long smokers, having giving up for good, some months down the road losing the use of their legs.

Oops. Have I not mentioned about the smoking thing? Well, I’ve given up. For good! Admittedly it’s only been since the end of December, but nevertheless. Thing is y’see, on past occasions when I’ve stopped for a while I’ve never, literally never, said that I’ve quit. Not to myself, or to anyone else. I’ve always said “I’ve stopped for the time being”.

But this time… well, this time’s different. After much pondering and heavy soul-searching I’ve finally decided… to quit for good. There. So now you know!

Meanwhile, behind the innocent façade of a decaying old house (well, perhaps that’s a bit unfair… more like a house being gradually taken over by Nature) something sinister stirs.

The something sinister in question being my fetid mind.

For I’ve discovered that I can’t gaze unthinkingly at a wall of prints for weeks, days, even hours at a time without eventually something happening. Patterns. Little groupings. This belongs with that. That belongs with this. This and this definitely go together. Not sure about that. Doesn’t seem to fit anywhere. Nope. Absolutely not. Remove it entirely.

And then words, slowly beginning to weave themselves in and out and around the various little groupings. Or rather, thoughts of words… describing thoughts; some trivial… clichéd even, some profound, some completely mad, emerging bit by bit from that fetid mind of mine.

It’s Magic! Watching Order appear slowly out of Chaos. Patterns gradually forming, practically of their own volition, from utterly random images tossed as though by some giant kaleidoscope. Is this not a true Act of Creation? I tell you, its sheer Magic.

Mind you, I’m not entirely convinced these little groupings, these thoughts, are precisely what I’d originally visualised, way back when. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say they’re not. But no matter. This is what I shall be working with. Slowly. Over the coming months. Maybe even into next year. Or the one beyond. Again, no matter. I always (or nearly always… except when I’m being mercenary!) work to my own unique timescale. Heh heh.

And that’ll do for this month’s photography update. TTFN good folk.


Posted in Photography Chat, Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beware the ides of March

Ides? Wot the hell are ides then? All I know is, it’s a line from one of ol’ Bill Shakespeare’s plays… Julius Caesar to be precise:

Julius Caesar:
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar:
What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–19

The other thing I know is, I’ve been bewaring ’em, whatever the hell they are. Very bewaring them in fact. All month long. Cos they obviously bode no good for me in my continuing sorry state. Wonder if they’re anything to do with the fact that this bloody cold weather with utterly ridiculous temperatures is still dragging on, even at this time of year?

Why, around the middle of the month even the gritting lorries were out again. That’s just plain damn ridiculous. And I do so hate the cold. Particularly now. Cos it’s not doing me any good at all. Yet hopes of long hot days where I can simply bask in the Sun and soak up the rays seem to be receding by the minute. Surely this bloody cold can’t last all year, can it?

By which you may safely assume that this ’ere lurgy of mine (ahem… epitome of all ’orribleness) is still alive and kicking in the land of Mike. But fear not. Cos Mike’s kicking back. Bloody hard now! (Well, when I can be bothered, that is.) But March? Yeah, I’m definitely bewaring it.

So, what else isn’t new in the land of Mike? Pretty much everything really, but let’s focus on wot’s not new photography-wise… cos this is supposed to be a sort of photography-related blog. In a manner of speaking.

It may be remembered that, before this ’orribleness reared its ugly head, I had two or three rather tasty little photo projects in the pipeline, with one particularly tasty one definitely beginning to emerge as the frontrunner. Not a lot of point anyone pressing me for further details of course… cos that would just spoil the surprise, wouldn’t it? And I’d have to try to remember what it was all about.

Cos there’s the thing y’see. I ain’t been doing very much these past few months. Bugger all in fact. Obviously. So I’ve tended to lose track of things somewhat. Not even been very interested in keeping track of things. But now I do believe I’m detecting some sort of glimmer of something or other in the jolly old grey cells. It may all just be a fevered hallucination of course. But in that case it could at least try to be a bit less mundane.

And there’s the snag… that “losing track” of things bit. Cos I’m not entirely certain I can recollect all the juicy details of that incredibly exciting little project… the one that I had all those black and white prints… er… printed for. Oops.

And wot with me being a secretive little bugger regarding my forward “plans”… well… there’s not really anyone that can help me out, even just by giving my memory a small nudge. Oops again.

Sure, I can remember only too well the broad intention of the little scheme… the “finished product” as it were. But the concept, how it was all to knit together, the fine detail sorta thing… gone, all gone.

Guess I’m just gonna have to find a large lump of wall somewhere, stick all those prints on it, and then sit for ages staring at them to see if they… um… “talk to me” as it were. Should be easy you’d think, wot with me not having a lot else to do.



Y’see, earlier this month some rather curious things happened that culminated in a bit of a catastrophe. Not a catastrophe to the world at large of course. Said world at large couldn’t really give a toss one way or t’other. Nor a catastrophe of the life-changing sort. After all, mustn’t over-dramatise things, must I? [Heh heh] Rather, more of a catastrophe in the sense of the very last thing I need to be happening at the mo’.

Wouldn’t even have been a catastrophe had I been fully functional sorta thing, but as things currently stand its difficult enough just spending hours slobbing in front of an infernal machine mindlessly watching endless DVDs (I’ve been doing a lot of that these past four months or so… just don’t ask me what I’ve been watching cos none of it really registered). Certainly no fit state to be sorting out problems… especially those where I have to think and do things. Aarrrgggh!

Anyway, this catastrophe thingie, all to do with me other blogs it is… the self-hosted beasties. Where occasionally I venture into topics that some might consider a wee bit… um… “contentious”. Maybe. Ahem.

Actually, I suspect it started a bit before the beginning of this month, when one of the blogs started seeing a mass of “illegal logon attempts”. Not illegal in the sense of anyone getting banged up for it of course. That’d be just plain silly. It’s just one of those weird phrases used in computer-generated messages. Like that stupid Microsucks BSD message “You have committed (or was it “performed”?) an illegal operation”. What a load of old cobblers. All that meant was you’d found a way of doing something that Microsucks didn’t like/approve. Well, tough.

No. What it really means is someone has been trying to log in without having the right login details. Which in turns means either they had them and forgot them… or are up to no good. Naughty! Of course, such incidents have happened periodically in the past though I’ve never taken too much notice. Easily enough dealt with anyway.

But suddenly there was a huge increase. I mean, like huge. Clearly something was occurring, though I still wasn’t overly concerned… just monitoring the situation and taking appropriate action with my customary sloth-like efficiency when necessary.

And that was it basically. But then, a bit into March, completely out of the blue I get a nice (though rather unwelcome) little message from my hosting provider explaining they’ve reluctantly had to disable one of my other blogs cos somehow a script’s been running that has put a far too heavy load on the server for too long. Oops. And damn.

Time for me to have a quick recce behind the scenes and it doesn’t take me too long to realise that something is clearly adrift. Majorly adrift. Like as in entire directory structures messed up etc. Doesn’t bode well. Not well at all. Just my sodding luck!

Of one thing I’m reasonably certain. It’s not down to anything I’ve done. For starters I’ve barely touched the blogs since the beginning of this ’orribleness of mine… and when I have touched ’em its only been to post stuff etc. Certainly not significant admin stuff or initiating scripts or whatever. And, let’s face it, I’ve been running blogs and websites for far too long now for me to be doing anything real stupid with them. Well, not admin-wise at least. In terms of content… ah, that’s another matter entirely of course. [snigger]

Well, I’ve neither the inclination or the energy to be messing around repairing the damage, patching things up etc. Far easier to take the heavy-handed approach and kill the lot. Start over with brand new installs and try to recover as much of the original content as I can from the various backups and export files I seem to have knocking around.

That’s the easy bit of course. But then I have to laboriously plough through all the posts on all the blogs to make sure links are working ok and that all the necessary plugins have been reinstalled so that plugin-dependent content is displaying properly. And that’s work! Grrr!

Does it end there though? Does it hell! Cos somehow I seem to have developed this fixation on replicating the look and feel of the original blogs as closely as possible. And that’s even more work. Double grrr!

For it means having to track down the original themes, which are quite old now. And may not even be available anymore. And then trying to remember all the little customisations and tweaks I’ve done over the years. [Hmm… wonder if there’s backups of the various hacks floating around anywhere ponders he, idly trying to dream up ways of saving hisself a bit of effort, wot with being a bit of a lazy sod on top of everything else.]

Now, without wanting to descend into the realm of paranoia I’m finding it difficult to avoid the word “hacking”. And certainly without wishing to sound like some sort of conspiracy nut I can very easily think of a particular item that has appeared on two of the three blogs that could well have aroused someone’s ire. Someone (or rather, some several ones) who ain’t without a certain degree of ability in the nefarious hacking direction. Hmm.

But if I ever manage to track the problems back to the original source and it proves to be someone up to naughties I’ll… I’ll… I’ll… I’ll… well, I just will, that’s all.

So y’see, that bit about me not having anything else to do apart from gazing vacantly at a wall-full of photos is a load of old cobblers… I suddenly seem to have lots to do. Oh pooh!

P.S.: Now in case you hadn’t already guessed, this entire post is by way of being a bit of an update from Mikeland for the benefit of all the kindly folk that continue to pop by occasionally despite my prolonged absence.

Posted in Photography Chat, Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Update February 2011

How’s that for a truly unimaginative post title? Sometimes I do believe I excel myself. Anyway… yep, I’m still ’ere!


Not, actually. Not “here” as in “here on WordPress” that is. As in starting to post stuff again; as in piccies and wotnot. Or having a bit of a rant. Or any of my other engaging little bits and pieces. So no-one needs to start groaning just yet.
No. Rather, “here” as in “here I am still dragging this scrawny old carcass of mine through the remnants of a totally miserable existence”. Although not quite as scrawny now I do suspect for it appears I may have gained a little weight.

Prob’ly on account of all that healthy food I seem to have been stuffing my face with. Hmm. And possibly the not smoking for a good couple of months now. And… um… the virtually complete absence of caffeine for even longer. And… er… the banning myself from any imbibing of the jolly old amber nectar. Believe me, no amount of food, healthy or otherwise, is any kind of substitute for my default diet of fags, coffee, and amber nectar!

That’s what I mean by the phrase “totally miserable existence”. For I seem to have inadvertently deprived myself of all my little pleasures in life. It just ain’t right! (Although at least I can still entertain myself with thoughts of nubile young gothettes I guess!)
And all because of this lurgy. Although “lurgy” is hardly an appropriate word for it. The “mother of all lurgies” perhaps. Or, more descriptively, the “epitome of all ’orribleness”.
Unfortunately, despite my reasonably extensive vocabulary, I don’t appear to have a word for “the epitome of all ’orribleness” so if anyone has any suggestions for one, be it real or invented, do please share with me.

So, this ’ere epitome of all ’orribleness… started off in November last year it did. Became really bad (like really really bad) toward the end of December, and the bloody thing’s still refusing to budge here at the end of Feb (though I’m occasionally managing to give it an albeit rather feeble kicking).

Will it ever be gone? Who the hell knows? Certainly not I. The thought that it might be here for keeps gets right depressing at times, I have to say. Though that’s when I’m in one of my darker moods. On the odd occasions that sanity prevails its quite obvious such thoughts are nonsense… “all things must pass” sorta thing.

Now I come to think of it though, I suspect something was building up to this particular nastiness for pretty much all of last year cos, looking back, it seems I’d fallen prey to an unusually large number of lurgies. Just one after another practically. P’raps if I’d paid a bit more attention to what was happening then I may have been able to prevent (or at least minimise) this current ’orribleness.

On the other hand… maybe not.

Anyway, what all this means is… for the past four months or so I’ve been doing virtually nothing at all other than occasionally some essential income-generating stuff (otherwise bills wouldn’t have been getting paid!). But on occasion even that’s gone by the board. A week off here and there; days off even more here and there. Most unprecedented for me.

Sure, I’ve been known to do lots of nowt for reasons of general slobbishness… and thoroughly enjoy it too. But for health reasons? Unheard of.

So there you have it. Me doing nowt. Lots of nowt. For ages and ages. No photography. No blogging. No out and abouting. Nothing at all. Even worse, no inclination to do anything either. Haven’t even been bothering to check me emails very much, or blog comments, or anything really. Just sufficient to know that some folk have been kind enough to enquire about my wellbeing… indeed, even express concern. None of which I replied to cos… well… I just haven’t. So this blog update is by way of being a general “thanks for the concern” and to let folk know that, although still not quite ready to re-enter the fray just yet, I’m getting there. Slowly. Ever so slowly. As in snail’s pace slowly. Or so it seems.

As can pro’bly be imagined this entire period has done precious few favours for my normally sunny disposition. Well, maybe not sunny. Not exactly. But generally fairly positive, and always looking for the silver lining sorta thing.

Yeah. Well. That’s not quite been the case these past few months. More like a general air of misery interspersed with bouts of frustration. Frustration at being so damned incapable of doing anything at all. And anger… when I can raise sufficient energy for it. Anger cos I absolutely hate feeling like crap. And irritation. Irritation with all those folk (well-intentioned though they may be) who’ve insisted on offering unasked-for and unwanted advice (generally of a highly conventional sort that demonstrates little other than the paucity of folks’ thinking on matters health-related) when all I’ve really required is to be left alone to curl up in a nice dark little corner somewhere and deal with things in my own distinctive, if rather unorthodox, fashion.

And to cap it all, just before this ’orribleness had its evil way with me I’d acquired another camera and was really looking forward to giving it a proper workout. Not to be though. Cos before I had the chance… bam! This ’orribleness appeared. So there it still sits (the camera that is, not the ’orribleness… though that’s still hanging around as well at the mo’), gathering dust, blinking at me and (presumably) patiently wondering if I’m ever gonna get my act together again. As indeed do I. Wonder whether I’m ever gonna get my act together.

Which brings me neatly round to something rather more relevant to this particular blog.

For y’see, this enforced “do nothing” period has given me plenty of time to ponder things. All sorts of things. “Reflect upon Life” so to speak. And other stuff. Like, for example, “If I should ever photograph anything at all ever again, I wonder whether this ’orribleness will influence what that may be or how I may do it?” Sort of thing. (And that’s if I can remember how the camera works. Not that I knew much about that even before all this current nonsense.)

In other words, will such a prolonged and godawful experience impact upon my perception of the world, and how I visually communicate that?

Interesting sort of question, innit? Well, I think so.

There’s a whole part of me that feels that somehow my perceptions should be altered, and that should show itself in whatever I photograph. How can one experience so many months of such complete nastiness and not be affected by it? And how can that not colour whatever one subsequently does?

And yet there’s another part of me… the more rational part perhaps… that’s telling me to not be so damned fanciful and of course there won’t be any difference. For no matter how grim these past few months may have seemed to be (to me at least) its all just been a fairly unexceptional part of life, to be shrugged off once one emerges from the other side.

Guess I’ll just have to wait and see. Though I must confess to harbouring a rather perverse hope that my photography will be informed by the experience somehow. Precisely how is another matter entirely of course, about which I have no ideas whatsoever. And even if I did, well, mustn’t allow ego-driven conscious thought to artificially shape whatever strange impulses the subconscious chooses to fling out, must I?

Now having written this post I do hope no-one’s gonna start expecting another one for a while cos writing all this has quite worn me out. But for those few of my regulars who have been kind enough to check in here periodically, despite my prolonged absence, thanks for the loyalty… its much appreciated. And I’ll be back! Er. Somewhen. Most likely.

Posted in Photography Chat, Stuff, Thoughts | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments


Damned circumstances just keep on happening! So I’m blogging over on t’other blog at the mo’ until…

a) I’m well enough to be out and about taking piccies again, and/or

b) All the stuff that’s happening in good ol’ Britland either settles down or… well… does something else!

Posted in Not Photography, Stuff | Tagged , | 3 Comments