Drives me mad ..

A couple of handy driving tips to anyone thinking of visiting the UK this summer, illustrated by two shots I took – from the passenger seat –  on our journey back from Buckinghamshire last weekend…

Firstly, if you are a truck driver, you need to learn the art of parallel driving. This involves catching up to a lorry in front of you, then pulling alongside it and instantly reducing speed. The knack now is to maintain the speed of the wagon you just caught up with. This is vital, and will ensure that two out of three lanes on the motorway are well and truly blocked for, oh .. try to make it at least five miles!

Secondly, if you a car driver, it is essential that you DO NOT USE the inside lane! This lane is only for quirky individual farts and people with an IQ over 10. The rest of you must act like likkle fluffy sheep and FOLLOW THE CROWD. This will ensure that all three-lane motorways are instantly turned into dual carriageways and it’ll take us all that little bit longer to get to our destinations!

Now put your L plates back on, dumbo ..

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Load of rubbish ..

Oh well, I guess I don’t have to wait ’til Tuesday to find out what happens to England in the World Cup! What a disaster! It’s no wonder we English are so stoical and ‘stiff upper lip’! We get plenty of practice!…

On to better things now, and I was the guest on FabRadioInternational’s Middles Show last night, talking Joy Division, punk and God knows what else! Seems to have gone down well, with even friends in The States tuning in to hear my waffle! Thanks for listening, folks!

Shooting a 50th birthday party and a First Holy Communion this weekend! Just wish I could shoot the England team ..

Sick as a dog ..

Poor old Lesley was sick as a dog last night! Nothing to do with the football – she really was ill .. all night – and is now lying in bed with a cold cloth on her head and a bucket .. well, you get the picture! We think it was something she ate yesterday lunchtime. Anyway, the lads couldn’t come up with the goods again last night, could they, losing 2-1 to Uruguay and the team all but sure to go out of the World Cup. A pal of mine is out there covering the tournament for the Daily Mirror and, when he left, I joked with him that I looked forward to seeing him again .. next week! Reminds me of my favourite joke from Facebook. A shot of the team getting off the plane at Rio has Gerrard turning back to the captain and shouting “Leave it running, mate. We won’t be long!”..

Off into Manchester later for my ‘guest appearance’ on the Middles Radio Show, and frantically trying to think of what the hell to talk about! D’ya think music and photography will cover it? I’m certainly not talking about football! In fact, I’m going back to having no interest in football again! Er, after Tuesday!..

Listen ..

I forgot to tell you! I’m going to be the guest on a radio show this coming Friday! Eeek!..

Yes, I’m going on the Middles Show on Fab Radio International – 7 ’til 9, if you’re interested. The presenters, Mick and Vicky, are good friends of mine and asked if I’d go on to talk about my Joy Division photography and .. well, anything else that crops up during the two hours! They’ve even asked me to bring in a compilation of my favourite music to be played during the show!
“Oooh, it’ll be just like Desert Island Discs..” tittered Lesley. Hmmm!…

Very busy PR day yesterday, covering a ‘Production Conference’ at a Manchester hotel. Those function rooms were not designed with photography in mind, I can tell you! Nevertheless, a great day, and an absolutely inspirational main speaker – Ken Woodward, a chap blinded in an industrial accident almost 25 years ago. He said what a lot of blind people say – that hearing becomes a much bigger part of one’s life when you can’t see. I just hope he tunes in to listen to my appearance on Friday!

Today’s archive shot? Piccadilly 261 Radio DJ Pete Baker, shot during an OB in Altrincham circa 1979. Look at the fans! All ears ..Listen ..

Back o’ the net ..

Dammit! I fell off the wagon! I’ve started to watch football again! (I refer you to Friday’s blog!) But, hang on, did I say watch it? God, I’ve written all the kick-off times in my diary! Daren’t miss it! Oh, bugger, and I was doing so well. I blame Holland v Spain. What a game! And then, of course, there was our own valiant effort against the Italians, for which I managed to stay awake on Saturday night, and now I aim to get everything done today in time to watch the Germany v Portugal game at 4 o’clock this afternoon!

My name is Martin O’Neill. I’m a World Cup addict …

Having said that, there’s a world of difference between watching football and photographing football! I’ll hold my hands up .. that’s something I just cannot do. I think this image from my archive was the last time I had a go at it! I mention this because I had to try to photograph footy again when I shot the pictures for a school prospectus last month. Managed to get the ball on at least three of the pictures! Brilliant! The other shots, though? They’re great! I added ’em to my PR page his morning. Back o’ the net!..

Addicted ..

Two of my long-standing Flickr ‘addictions’ were both catered to last night when I went to cover a dinner in Manchester. New images were added to both ‘On the one hand’ – a series of single gloves – and ‘Social Seen’ – images from social settings.
(I love the shot of the chap trying to fix his wife’s dress by the light of the torch on her ‘phone! Click it to see it larger) One addiction, however, has been cracked!

Football!..

I was back home in time for the second half of the Brazil game last night – the opening match of the 2014 World Cup and, I’m afraid – to use the vernacular – “Bothered?” sums it up! I went cold turkey, you see. Two years ago, after following Manchester United since I was a kid. Then the prancy, pathetic amateur-dramatics and over-paid hooting and ref-ranting just got to me and I decided I’d had enough. Stopped watching football. Didn’t miss it. Don’t miss it. Just hoping I don’t come ‘off the rails’ as the tournament gets into its stride!..

That’s life ..

Don’t worry, I’m not coming over all maudlin here, but I wanted to talk today about death! It was actually going to be the subject of yesterday’s blog, after the sad demise of Rik Mayall but, ironically, it’s become even more poignant now that I’ve left it one more day ‘cos .. my Uncle died last night. That’s him in the middle, with my Dad on the right. I just marked the 5th anniversary of Dad’s death a couple of weeks ago, and I’m pretty sure the chap on the left’s dead too. I know the lady at the back is ‘cos that’s my aunt!.. 

It’s funny, looking at 100 year old photographs from the First World War and thinking .. gosh, they were real people, living their lives .. because that’s just become the role of this photograph, with the passing of a mere 36 years. Real people, living their lives, having a night out at the infamous Talk of the North in Eccles, and shot by a pimply 18 year old who only wanted to be a photographer! A young lad just two years out of school and now two weeks away from the first ever school reunion he’s ever been to. And that’s where another poignant moment comes because, after a question was posted up onto Facebook, it’s become apparent that, 38 years on from leaving school, quite a few of my old school chums have already ‘bitten the dust’! Drugs, cancer, life’s bad luck! What a shame.
The shout has gone out for any old prints of those poor unfortunates but, with so many of today’s ‘social’ photographs being taken on a phone, how on earth will people today view their past life?.. 

RIP, boys …

No pressure ..

There’s a lot buzzing round my head at the moment, what with designing Wedding albums, sorting the SEO for the new website and dealing with what’s turned out to be quite a lot of fantastic PR work this week, but I thought I’d write about what I guess is ‘The grass ain’t always greener on the other side!’..

I was shocked at the number of posts that flew up onto Facebook after the death yesterday of poor old Rik Mayall and, this morning, there are photographs of him taken on Sunday when he was out walking his dog. My God, I thought, he couldn’t even walk his dog without being snapped! That was a theme echoed in a TV programme last night about David Beckham, who set off for a motor-cycle ride through the Amazon jungle to ‘get away from it all’. (Ok, we’ll ignore the camera crews, medics, bike technicians and that irritating little ‘health and safety minder..) He was talking to a native of the Yanomami tribe who – much to Beckham’s delight – didn’t recognise him as he only followed football on the radio. Beckham was talking about his life, and the reasons for his trip. He was doing it, he said, to get away from all the pressure. “Pressure?..” said this guy who lives in the jungle, killing his own food, risking death by everything from poisonous frogs to falling trees and jaguars “What’s that?!”…

And relax …

Gimmix!..

There’s a great track by Salford ‘punk-poet’ John Cooper-Clarke, called ‘Gimmix’ released as – wait for it – an orange, triangular record. One of the lines in it is ‘Another day, another fad’ and the tune came to mind when I saw a Wedding photograph on Facebook last week. It showed a bride and groom with two bright red smoke flares going off behind them. What? I thought! Who the hell would set off red smoke flares at their Wedding? (Don’t answer that!) Anyway, I proceeded to the photographer’s website to find – wait for it (Part Deux) – it was him that had put them there! What? (Also Part Deux!) Oh, come on! How gimmicky is that? Am I just getting old-fashioned or is there suddenly some law that you can’t take straight-forward, intelligent, clean, fresh Wedding images without tweaking them to an early sickly-yellow vintage death in Lightroom or adding stupid props like bloody moustaches on sticks!?

Hey, hang on! What if we put the bride and groom in a brandy glass? .. 

My slice of the pie ..

Subtitled : Where there’s a web there’s a way!
Yes, it seems that photography for websites is the way forward for me, and in just the last couple of months I’ve taken the pictures for a school website and the sites for a luxury country cottage, a delicatessen, a cheese factory, a shipping company, a pub and a museum! The studio’s also been busy with the internet stock photography for, of all things, a model railway company! Now how’s that for variety? Looks like I’m getting a bigger and bigger slice of the pie!..