Black and white



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)

24 thoughts on “Black and white

  1. The most difficult thing about the crazy political situations–in both our countries–is the feeling of helplessness in watching things unfold. I feel as if I am a witness to an unfolding of history and there is almost nothing I can do to affect a surreal incoming tide of change. It’s such a bizarre feeling.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the one of the ponies out on the beach. I’m so glad you had a good day out together, and a nice mug of chocolate works wonders I find :o)

    I’ve been through the same range of emotions, as you know, and this morning decided my course of action is this: join twitter (which I’ve so far resisted) to keep up with feeds relating to wildlife and environmental concerns, because you can be certain charities will require more support now, and join more conservation-related organisations. The Bee Conservation Trust, Hare Preservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the Wildlife Trusts are all deserving if you’re not already part of them. XX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you’re right. Banding together and lending support is good. Hare Preservation Trust – that’s a new one on me! Intriguing.


  3. I read an article today reminding me of Yeats’ lines from The Second Coming: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity”.
    It is difficult to face conflict.

    A trip to to the V&A sounds like pure delight.


    1. I have been known to wade in, all guns blazing but my heart races and I lost any articulate thought that I may have had. I could never be a politician!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never feel that I know enough of the facts to take on the conflict. I don’t think the protests and petitions are pointless. I do think there is a slim chance that this referendum could be over-turned. When Ireland made a protest vote against the EU the government waited a few months and told us all again to try again until we got the right answer.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been feeling exactly the same. It’s all so incredibly frustrating. Such a feeling of complete powerlessness. The day in London sounds wonderful, and the exhibition inspiring. Glad you had a little escape for a while. CJ xx


  5. I share your frustration with the EU events, as I have relatives and strong ties with Britain. On the bright side, you are so lucky to be able to take day trips into the Victoria and Albert museum, the exhibition looked very interesting.


  6. A day trip to the V&A sounds just like the best antidote to feeling miserable. I am sharing your feelings, I feel powerless and a bit hopeless, too. And it just keeps getting worse, the parties shredding each other to bits and no doubt the anti English sentiment in Scotland is aggravated, too. I have yet to meet a ‘leave’ voter but like you, I would probably avoid conflict. I imagine it being like talking to a creationist, whatever clever argument you might think of, it will be thwarted by an illogical and delusional comment. How very insightful of your twelve year old to pick up on your mood and bring it up with you in such a mature way (my twelve year old would huff and puff and shout and scream). The photo exhibition looks fab, I do like photography very much. x


    1. My daughter does huff and puff quite a bit, too! But she has always been a sensitive creature and very in tune with others’ moods.


  7. I’ve been a bit shouty this week too…. in fact yesterday I was quite sweary when got home from work…… tonight I’ve drunk lots of wine and eaten lots of ice cream and I feel a lot better……


  8. Paul Strand’s tightly cropped photos are amazing. He was a friend and contemporary of Georgia O’Keefe and influenced her work. I’m planning on going to her retrospective at Tate Modern next week – I think it may be interesting to be in London on Wednesday the day the Chilcot report is published – and I’m immersing myself in art, poetry and drama as a way of making sense of these turbulent times. I can see a glimmer if Theresa May is elected leader and calls an election to give the UK another chance to vote to remain in the European Union. I am NOT a Conservative but in the immortal words of Ted Heath, “Nous sommes en Angleterre …”. I feel deep dismay that the electorate voted leave and I have yet to meet a “Leaver” – could the vote to leave really have been a vote against the Cameron/Osborne austerity axis? Also do you think the semantics of the ballot paper had an influence? When I looked at it in the polling booth I thought the option to “Leave” was clear and concise whereas the sentence structure for the “Remain” option was a little convoluted? (Has Michael Gove’s agenda to deny a decent education to our young people worked? My son graduated on the 21st and I felt so positive and optimistic for all the new graduates. Now I feel bereft for them although my son and his girlfriend have sensibly gone to India for a month of travel and photography.) Sorry about this muddy puddle comment on your crisp black and white post Sam, but just one final thought – the empathy of daughters is a wonderful thing!


    1. Thank you for such heartfelt comment, Sarah. It would be good to sit down over a coffee and discuss all this! I have similar queries/thoughts. We have to remain positive, in as much as it’s possible, and have faith that some sense will come out of this mess (and I agree Ms May is probably the safest option) and that our wonderful young people will make a better future. And, yes, daughters are wonderful (and sons, of course!).


  9. What an empathic daughter, how lovely to have such honesty between you. We were on holiday when the Brexit (stupid word) vote went through and made a family pact not to discuss it whilst we were away, otherwise we felt our precious family holiday would be dominated by it. My husband’s business has already been affected, it is just awful. I have yet to meet, in print or person, a Leaver. X


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