Four: Caroline

Caroline, originally uploaded by meganknight.

This is my colleague Caroline. She suggested I photograph her, and since the light in her office was so interesting (she hates the overhead flourescents and uses a desk lamp, by late in the day, the office is dark and the side light is wonderfully warm and glowing), I thought it would make a great picture. I took this picture without flash, by mistake, but looking at the other picture, I much prefer this one: both Caroline’s expression and the light on her face with the rest of the office in darkness, so I’m uploading this, shakes and all.

Her desk and office is pretty typical of academics – binders and files and books and stationery – although the foreground is actually another colleague’s desk. I spend a lot of time in Caroline’s office: she has a nice bum-warming heater in there, and she and George are great company and conversation, although I suspect we would all get more work done if I didn’t.

Three: Church

Church, originally uploaded by meganknight.

I really need a ladder to take this picture properly. This is on my walk to work, and I have been watching this church decay and fall apart for more than two years now.

England has too many churches, unfortunately. It has only a tiny regular church-going population (6% at the last census), but has all the churches of a devout and observant community. Some are listed buildings, and cost a fortune in upkeep, constantly raising funds and worrying about how to pay for repairs, some are not, and are taken over by nightclubs, universities, mosques and other community groups. Some, like this unfortunate building, just get left to rot. It’s not in the best neighbourhood, and clearly the local population are not keen churchgoers (there are plenty of pubs around, though). It’s all boarded up and fenced in, and there is a sign advertising a storage facility, but I don’t know whether that’s opportune advertising or serious plans. In the meantime, more and more sky shows through the roof.

Two: The Lancaster Canal

Lancaster Canal, originally uploaded by meganknight.

This is a picture of the Lancaster Canal, which runs only a block or so away from the house. It’s a rather sad canal, it was built in the late eighteenth century, and ran from Preston docks to to Kendal, in the lake district. Unfortunately, as with the docks, there had been so much wrangling and arguing over the plans that by the time it was built the railways had taken over, and it never really came into its own. This is apparently a common state of affairs with Preston development projects.

Some time in the seventies the end of the canal was cut off, and it now ends abruptly about half a mile south of where this picture was taken. The canal does still run most of the way to Kendal, although it is impassable at various points, having been crossed by motorways and the like.

I often walk to work along the canal, although it is rather rubbish-strewn, and has more than its fair share of dog shit along the path, it does have ducks and coots, and even some swans. In the spring it is very pretty, but right now it’s still frozen, and there is rubbish strewn across the ice, so I cut that out of the picture.

One: The dregs of Christmas

1/365 The dregs of Christmas, originally uploaded by meganknight.

We’re not that into Christmas, really. We’re not Christians, and having spent considerable time being Christians, quite seriously I’m uncomfortable with the idea of celebrating Christmas now that I’m not. We do like Christmas food, but then, to be honest, we like food. Since moving to the northern hemisphere, and to a place where winter actually means something more than the name of the ‘special’ sales on at the local mall, we’ve discovered the true meaning of holiday spirits: candles and green things and warm lights and rich, special food are essential for preventing suicidal depression and psychotic cabin fever among the population. So, this year we actually bought Christmas lights, and I acquired some ivy from the garden, along with some spruce boughs and bright red berries, and set up a display with candles on the mantelpiece.
It was very festive, and went well with the roast beast and all the trimmings, and the mountains of Christmas cake we went through. Now, of course, it’s the new year, and the display is looking a bit sad. I’ll take it down later today, and maybe replace it with something else, or maybe not. The mantelpiece does tend to get cluttered with stuff, though, and I do prefer a display of some kind, rather than assorted random things.

The first post

So, I’ve been dithering about doing the 365 project this year, and after a day of indecision yesterday, have decided to do it, but with a slight twist. You see, I should write more on the blog, but I battle to write short simple things – each post is like a newspaper column. So, I’ve decided that I will do the pictures, but the challenge is to write at least 200 words on each picture, so the point becomes writing, not photography. I’m not a great photographer, although would like to be, and way limits the pressure on me to produce great pictures (which I would rapidly find frustrating), and it also means I can probably get away with using the occasional picture from my mobile phone, since in my mind, the point is the writing.

And yes, I am starting on January 2nd. I could claim I’m being quirky and original, or that I’m refusing to participate in the collective delusion that some random point in time, some arbitrarily determined date is meaningful, but not really: I just didn’t get it together yesterday. In fact I didn’t leave the house yesterday (although I did get dressed, and make supper from scratch, so there is that).

The photostream is here.

On being Canadian.

The fact that I’m Canadian always seems to catch me by surprise. Other people as well. You see, I’m not REALLY Canadian, I’m one of those hyphenated Canadians, semi-Canadian, a Canadian of convenience. As Canadian as possible, under the circumstances.
I sometimes feel kind of guilty when I use my Canadian passport. It’s such a good calling card, nobody hates the Canadians, so I’m welcome everywhere (except Tanzania, which is another story). I don’t live in Canada, I don’t pay taxes in Canada, and when I was living there I was either an impoverished student or working minimum wage jobs, so I can fairly safely say I have taken way more from Canada than I have contributed over the years.
The thing is, though, that passport is not just a convenience, although it is convenient. I am Canadian in all sorts of ways. I’m a pacifist, I’m uncomfortable with overt displays of nationalism, I’m multicultural (both personally and in my tastes). I’m polite (usually), I’m intelligent and somewhat smug about less intelligent southerly neighbours, I’m unambitious with money, and I have a Canadian’s sense of personal space (I spend much of my time in African and Asian public spaces in a state of mild distress at all the people! so close! shudder!). I like winter. I don’t mind paying taxes for social services. I could even like curling. Canada suits me, in a way that no other place I’ve found does, and it’s really no less than a conspiracy on the part of the universe to prevent me from living there all the time. I really have been trying to get back to Canada for the last fifteen years, and I can’t seem to manage it.
That said, and now that I have asserted my true and utter Canadian-ness, can I just say that the Canadian passport renewal system is the most byzantine, bureaucratic, Kafka-esque process I have ever encountered? Bloody hell, people, it’s just a passport, it’s not the freaking secret MI5 dossier from 1945 to 1990. And you make us do this every FIVE freaking years?
Oh well. It is still the best passport to have, and the best country to be a citizen of, so I will spend much of tomorrow trying to find a photographer in Manchester who can provide me with an image of myself that will satisfy the good people at Passports Canada, and fill in my multicoloured forms in triplicate with stamps and seals and the names and addresses of everyone I’ve ever met, and take my new passport happily with me to all the places I want to go, I just hope I get to take it home, sometimes, too.