Friday, 8 December 2017

Johnny who? ..

The biggest rock star you've never heard of! That's how The Independent newspaper described Johnny Hallyday, who died on Wednesday and set off a wave of wall-to-wall TV coverage and national mourning. Yes, poor old Johnny. You know? Johnny Hallyday? The Rock God? Good old Johnny? You know?..

The thing is, we English don't know. Most of us have never heard of him, but Johnny Hallyday has been, well "An Icon", as it says here, in France since about 1922! He is (was!) the Bees Knees when it comes to music in France. Adored, loved, held on high. And now he's dead. It's like saying Cliff Richard, Vera Lynn and Posh Spice had all popped their clogs on the same day. Ok, maybe not Posh Spice, but you get the idea. And it brings into sharp focus the musical differences between England and France. We don't know any of their music, and they know none of ours. Only last weekend, during a loud and drinky Karaoke night, I was trying to explain just how big Gladys Knight and The Pips were. The French in the room had never heard of them. Neil Diamond? Nope! Cliff? Not a chance. The music scene is so insular here that none of our "icons" have made a dent in their charts. Likewise (apart from Vanessa Paradis!!) none of their big names mean a thing in the UK. And they say music is the international language. That'll be the day ..   

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Here's to the next one ..

I know she gets wheeled out every year, but I just love this photograph of a nun in a party hat tucking into Christmas lunch! The shot is now well over 30 years old, taken when I was covering a Christmas lunch for OAPs in, of all places, a casino in Salford. It's one of the pictures in my B/w Archive, something I plan to build on now I have more time here in France. There are still loads of negatives yet to be scanned, and I can't wait to get cracking on them in the new year. I also have a new exhibition in mind, which I'll start to shoot by the Spring, and I've arranged with a couple of companies over here to shoot some property photography for them once the weather improves ..

This is one of my favourite festive traditions. Christmas is a time to reflect on the year just gone, but it doesn't half get me looking forward to the next one ..

Monday, 4 December 2017

If you can't beat 'em ..

It was bitterly cold here yesterday .. but gorgeous .. so with the thermometer at -5˚ we ventured out for a stroll and a morning of 'capturing clichés' in the frost. Hey, if you can't beat 'em ..

It all looked very festive though and, dare I say it, it is nice to see that Christmas is making itself known here now, with the switching on of lights and the opening of markets happening all around us. Lesley is off to sing with a choir at a Christmas Carol concert this afternoon, whilst I take a stand at a Christmas market with items from my Florescence range and gift vouchers for Camera Tuition and Family Portraits. Yes, I know I'm being commercial about it all but hey, if you can't beat 'em ..

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Long ago and far away ..

This time last year I was at the North Pole, working on an ice-berg with Santa and a Polar Bear. Actually, this time last year I was shooting the launch of the Christmas Grotto at Manchester's Trafford Centre, and it's fair to say it was a bit more hi-tech and virtual reality than ever one of my childhood visits to Santa ever was (And I'll hold my hands up - this shot does look a bit rude!) ..

The funny thing is that, just as my childhood was a long time ago, my work as a PR photographer already seems as if it's from another lifetime. My last PR shoot in the UK was in August - getting on for four months ago - but I've settled so easily into my new life in France that's it's already becoming a dim and distant memory..
So long ago, so far away .. 

Monday, 27 November 2017

On a different plane ..

I had a quick flit back to the UK this weekend - always an opportunity to bring out the plane-spotter in me - but, my word, what a shock it was to be back in the 'old country' so soon after moving away. All those people! All those cars! All that noise! All that rain! All those delayed trains! All those disgustingly ignorant teenagers!..

I'm now happily ensconced again in rural France. Please don't make me go back to the UK any time soon. Even if it does mean I don't get to photograph aeroplanes!..

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

On the horizon ..

They do Christmas differently here. None of the UK's smaltzy tv ads or pubs displaying Christmas trees in August; no shops covered in decorations or playing carols 24/7. In fact, our little bit of rural France has only just about started to let the festive season make itself known. The supermarket allowed itself an aisle full of chocolates at the beginning of November, which has now grown to include a cardboard mock-up of a steam-train to mark the entrance to an expanded toy section, and our neighbour has put up some Christmas lights for his four year old. I went to my first Christmas Fayre of the season last Saturday and have another one lined up - when I'll be having a stall -  next week. It is so refreshing to see, and makes you realise just what a commercial enterprise the whole Chrimbo thing is in the UK. Of course, all of that could go out the window come December.
I'll keep you posted ..   

Saturday, 18 November 2017

I'm booked in ..

It's as if it was meant to be ..

I was invited to a breakfast networking meeting the other day, down at a chateau near our gîte. As I turned into the drive my car began to make the most horrendous screeching noise, and a cloud of grey smoke rose from under the bonnet. I crawled into the car-park and pulled up, with a rather red face, next to a guy and lady who had driven in before me. Folks, they were car mechanics! A couple who moved to France a year ago and were, like me, at the meeting for the first time. Even better, their workshop is less than 2 miles from our house. I'm booked in for Monday ..

Into the meeting and we all start to press the flesh. "A photographer? .." asked one nice chap who turned out to be an estate agent "You don't do property photography do you? .." I'm booked in for the first week of December ..

Coffee and bacon butties were served. The lady handing out the goodies just happened to be the owner of the chateau. "We're having our Christmas Fayre this Saturday .." she said "You couldn't take some pictures, could you? .." I'm booked in for 11 am ..

It's as if it was meant to be ..

Ps: This isn't the garage I'll be going to, but a lovely quirky old building in the next village down from ours that seems to have been turned into some kind of impromptu museum. Très cute ..