My 12-year-old daughter was upset yesterday evening: ‘Mum, you’re not acting like yourself. You’ve been cross and impatient all week. What’s wrong?!’ She had tears in her eyes. I hadn’t realised I’d been so grumpy and short-tempered, and it stopped me in my tracks. Why am I so out-of-sorts? On reflection, after sitting down and discussing it with her (with apologetic hugs and hot chocolate), I concluded that it’s an unfortunate mix of hormones, the dismal weather, tiredness, and Abject Frustration at the situation our country finds itself in. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into a long treatise on why it’s a Very Bad Idea that the UK is going to extricate itself from 40 years of European Union; I’m sure you are fed up of reading gloomy political posts. But it has affected me deeply, despite my previous post, as I know it has many of my fellow bloggers and friends. We mustn’t rush about like headless chickens getting in a flap, as the two main political parties seem to be doing, but I’m at a loss to know what I can do that might have any effect. I’ve been sharing my views on social media because it makes me feel momentarily as though I am doing something – frankly, though, it is a monumental waste of time and just adds to the noise. I’ve signed a couple of pointless petitions. I’ve discussed the state of our nation with like-minded folk but can’t steel myself to discuss with unlike-minded folk because, to be honest, I can’t face the conflict. I’m usually not a shouty person. Sigh.
Despite my dark mood, the dismal weather and the depressing news, there have been bright points this week. I went to London with my eldest son – a rare opportunity to spend quality time with him on his own. We had a day trip to see the fabulous Paul Strand exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Gosh, I love that place. It’s a magnificent building full of magnificent stuff; buzzing, creative and inspiring. The exhibition was fabulous – we had timed tickets so there weren’t many people there and we could go at our own pace, sit and watch a couple of films, read the displays. Hailed as one of the great photographers of the 20th century, the photographs date from 1915 to the 1970s and give an overview of his great body of work. He travelled all over from the US to Mexico, the Hebrides, France, Egypt, Morocco, Italy, Romania, Ghana – photographing people, landscapes and close-up details. He sometimes liked to take pictures of people without them realising and had a decoy camera with the real lens tucked under his arm (which raises ethical questions!) but there are several striking portraits where the subject is looking directly at you. He was a staunch socialist – a fact that appealed greatly to my boy – and his photos definitely have a documentary feel about them. We both came away thoughtful and inspired, and determined to hold on to our values in this turbulent world.
*Obviously these photos are not mine! All by Paul Strand (1890–1976)