It’s midnight, a man sits on a bench on Starch Green, a patch of grass by a roundabout. He nurses a can of Special Brew, a blue bag sits at his feet containing a collection of more cans. He is lit softly from behind by a streetlamp creating a golden halo like the Ready brek kid. He stares ahead at the centre of the green which has of flock of discarded blue bags haunting it, dancing and twisting around in the breeze. There is a bright and almost full moon which gently illuminates the first daffodils of the year as they take their first tentative reaches out of the ground. He studies them with suspicion as if wondering how on earth they got there and what they wanted.
This is a photograph I did take in a disconnected scene but which reminded me of the moment:
Lately, I’ve got back to what I love doing the most.. Pounding the streets of London, photographing it’s amazing people.
The shadows of human history lay heavy on these buildings. The Soup Kitchen fed the poor and needy for 90 years. It’s luxury apartments are now, I’m sure, a quaint place to live and the more subtly named food banks have taken on the mission. The Sheltering home ‘rescued’ over 6,000 destitute and neglected children, trained them and then packed them off to work on farms in Canada. It now shelters University students from around the world in a reversal of its role.
The Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor, Brune St, East End of London
The Sheltering Home for Destitute Children, Myrtle St, Liverpool
Overlaid are Frank Bray, Samuel Relf and Edith Barker, three of the children who left for a new life in Canada.
“We in England, with our 470 inhabitants to the square mile, were choking, elbowing, starving each other in the struggle for existence: the British colonies over seas were crying out for men to till their lands, with few ties to bind them to the mother country, and at an age when they were easily adaptable to almost any climatic extremes.”
Thomas Barnardo 1889
“For all the noble endeavour of institutions, one vital ingredient is always missing. There is, and never will be, a substitute for love.” John Lane – Liverpudlian Child Migrant
Source: The Merseyside Maritime Museum
“Sometimes in the afternoon sky the moon would pass white as a cloud, furtive, lusterless, like an actress who does not have to perform yet and who, from the audience, in street clothes, watches the other actors for a moment, making herself inconspicuous, not wanting anyone to pay attention to her.”
― Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Christ Church in Spitalfields was built as part of the 18th century campaign to bring the Church of England to the ʻGodless Thousands’ in the East End – Outcast London – A labyrinth of narrow dark streets brimming with poverty, ill health and moral depravity. The people of the East End were thought of as miserable savages with low cerebral development by the nobility of London and the Church was the most gracious of some otherwise gruesome solutions.
This boy could be me or my Dad or my Grandad or he could be my Son. His innocence set against the ageing and ancient docks, the machinery of the past towering over him with its memories of an unspeakable history now lying redundant with no slaves to transport but the sand remembers as does the water.
On a recent visit to Liverpool I stayed in this wonderfully sleazy hotel above a bar in the nightclub district. I watched from this window as people stumbled through this back street often in fancy dress. Watching ‘Alice in Wonderland’ hurling bottles at her boyfriend got my imagination racing about a story of people going out on the town, dressed as superheroes and fictional characters and those characters stories coming to life throughout the night in a bit of a weird and very shit way. Maybe a plump Wonder Woman would discover a really lame superpower or Alice might come across other confused revellers dressed as characters from her story.
“Aliceʼs adventure in Merseyside began when she fell through a rabbit hole and found herself in a chicken shop near Lime Street station in the early hours of Sunday morning. Fuelled by a concoction of strong lager and pills supplied by the Mad Hatter in a car park in Toxteth, she now found herself hurling bottles with great accuracy at her boyfriend for some act of unmentionable indecency. As the bottles hurtled towards him he noticed the words ʻEAT ME!ʼ printed on one of them before it shattered on his forearm. Satisfied with her retribution Alice turned back to the main street, as she did she caught a glimpse of a dishevelled white rabbit wiping vomit from his mouth before scuttling off into the darkness..”