Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Holiday season and Best Wishes for 2010

Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2010! The Visual Diary is having a break and will return later in January to report on a visit to Berlin by the Swansea Met MA group which will include a visit to the Reichstag.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

History Heroes

Deb Fisher November 2009 (c) Rhys Jones

A friend, Deb Fisher, will be appearing in the BBC History Magazine next February writing about her history hero, the poet Siegfried Sassoon. Check that out for an interesting article! I have just completed a small photoshoot with Deb commissioned by the Beeb for this article - they needed a half-body shot. We all have heroes and people that we look up to and are inspired by and some of those can be our friends as well. Many friendships have ups and downs and some go through difficult periods especially if the friend in question becomes embroiled in contoversy and is seen perhaps as less than inspiring in a particular circumstance. It is important to stand by that person - whatever they have done is just a passing event whereas a friendship is for life and spans a whole collection of events. Maybe one day we ourselves may need that support.

Monday, 7 December 2009

A chance for change for our future

The UN Climate Change Conference begins in Copenhagen today where our leaders have come together to negotiate a treaty which will be so important for the world in the years ahead. It is important that we don't get any more prevarication and fudges - there should be no doubt that we are in a period of serious global warming which is having consequences for all nations. Developing nations need the help of the wealthy nations - we all need to help each other. We can all do things individually to consume less, waste less and live our lives in without having every new gadget that comes onto the marlet. I'm not advocating a return to the harsh conditions that our parents endured - just think before we act. I'm a serious over-consumer so I'm going to commit to change - hope you guys will as well!

Monday, 30 November 2009

St Andrew - a day for Scotland

Scott Clan Tartan

My grandfather on my mum's side of the family was born in Dundee and our family are part of the Scott Clan. Today is a day for remembering the Scottish roots of my family which I have to confess I have been less close to than the Welsh roots but nometheless I am proud of them and I do feel affinity. The Scott clan originated from the border region and the name is very common in Northumberland as well as in the lowland region south of Edinburgh.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Heritage and Traditions

Image : Penpont Artists open day Brecon October 2009 (c) Rhys Jones

Today is the 1st Sunday in Advent. This is traditionally a period of waiting and anticipation for the events that people in the Christian world over centuries have believed happened with the coming of a saviour. Not everyone believes in that but the idea of a mid-winter feast has gripped the imagination of everyone no matter what religion and all families have their own ways of celebrating by the keeping of traditions.

My younger son is working on a school project to trace his ancestry - the stories that have been handed down to us is that Matthew is distantly related to Fletcher Christian (Mutiny on the Bounty) on his mum's side of the family. On my side of the family, there is a connection to Thomas Sayers who was a pugilist and bare-knuckle fighter and in 1860 became world heavyweight boxing champion when he defeated John C Heenan of the United States. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery in London and his funeral was reported to have been attended by thousands.

Proving that connection has involved and is still involving research through public records of births marraiages and deaths, census returns and parish records and will involve a visit next year to the Isle of Man where many of the Christian family now reside. We have come across some very interesting discoveries about members of our family from generations ago and gained some insight to how they lived and their hopes and fears as human beings. Some sad discoveries have also been made. We wonder what research will be done on us in 100 years from now and what our descendents will make of blogs, facebook and all the other tools which have augmented the traditional pen and paper letters and diaries that people have kept in the past.

People leave their mark on the world in so many ways - some prefer to keep their deeds and how they are feeling secret and known to only a few close friends and some like to proclaim things to the world - people are free to chose and long may that freedom of choice prevail. People have a million ways to be happy and to be sad and the hope is that everyone will find happiness in their lives doing things their own way.

It is though one of the nicest things in life to share thoughts and words and enter in dialogue with others. It is this by this means that lasting friendships are formed in my opinion. If one doesn't hear from a person for a long period one can always think of that friend by the conversations and exchanges one has shared in the past - in extreme cases a lasting friendship has been formed in just one meeting in life.

Monday, 23 November 2009

The Brunswick Presents.....

A date for your diary after Christmas..Wednesday January 13th...The Brunswick Presents..Helen Finney and Rhys Jones. We will be the first exhibition of not only a new year but a new decade. The opening will be in The Brunswick, 3 Duke Street, Swansea from 6.30pm onwards. We will be providing light refreshments and the pub serves a good range of real ales. If you want to know more details please mail me -

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Artists Book for Charity - Emily Prosser fund

If anyone is interested in contributing a piece of art to an auction to be held on 31 January 2010 at Monkey Cafe Swansea from 4pm onwards please contact me on

The charity auction is part of a fundraising event with musicians and performers organised by Swansea singer-songwriter Niki Stitch The monies will be raised for the Emily Prosser Therapy fund so that Emily can receive regular alternative cerebral palsy treatment at an advanced clinic - join the group on Facebook if you'd like to.

I am also pulling together an artists book to be sold around this event to raise additional funds. If you are interested to have your work included please send me a 300 dpi jpeg to the same email address.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Friday 13th

I am not particularly superstitious but I'm looking through the catalogue of the film-maker Alfred Hitchcock. A lot has been written about his work and signs that are contained within. He has left behind some interesting film of his own thoughts on his work and that coupled with watching and forming our own opinions is possibly the best way of forming our own views. I'm way behind with updates to my visual diary partly because my time has been occupied with other things that have taken priority. I'll be participating in a joint exhibition of art work in Swansea in January which is exciting plus I'm hoping to go on an art trip to Berlin with our MA group also in January which will give a lot of inspiration to my art practice. I've never been to Berlin before and now is a good time to be there with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall very much in our minds and all that symbolises to the world and especially to the people of Berlin where families were split apart when the wall went up in 1961. I guess it's easy to build our own personal walls and cut ourselves off from people but sometimes we need to be on our own and if we don't like our own company it is going to be difficult to enjoy the company of other people.

When I go off on my own it is usually to take photographs which I am planning for this week-end.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

2009 Flower Show Match

The Flower Show Match 2009
Matfield Village CC v George Sherston's XI

Played at Matfield on July 22nd 2009

The fourth annual cricket match between Matfield Village and George Sherston’s XI took place in the idyllic setting of Matfield Village Green in the Kent countryside near Tonbridge. The match is played each year in memory of Siegfried Sassoon. The match was once again honoured by the attendance of Dennis Silk, Vice-President of the SSF and former President of the MCC.

The 1906 Flower Show Match is described by Sassoon in ‘Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man’ as being “the match of the year” and to play in it for the first time “was an outstanding event: words were inadequate.” In 2009, those same words still apply as this match is considered one of the highlights of the sporting year by the players of both teams.

As usual the teams gathered before the match for a pre-match lunch in ‘The Wheelwrights Arms’ – some of those in attendance had also played in the golf match the day before. Both events are the brain-child of Bob Miller who has again been the driving force of pulling the team together.

The weather in 2009 was a somewhat unsettled affair – periods of sunshine in the opening period were interspersed with period of cloud, which eventually gave way to some light drizzle during the Sherston innings. Whatever the conditions, both teams adapted well and resolutely continued until close of play at 7pm. Matfield went into bat first as in the 2008 match. A spirited display by the opening bowling pair of Jones and Bull and some fine fielding by the Sherston XI saw the first two wickets fall for just 35 runs. The good form shown by the Sherston team continued despite resistance to the bowling attack from Mills and Danby in the Matfield batting line up. The players thought an early tea might be on the cards when the ninth Matfield wicket fell for 98 but the last wicket partnership by Wilkin and Cooper had other ideas and admirably contributed a further 57 to the Matfield run total, finally ending on 155 when Wilkin was lbw to Southwell for 23 leaving Cooper unbeaten on 34.

Tea is always a highlight of a village cricket match and the spread provided by Matfield was no exception and much appreciated by both players, match officials and spectators. The 2009 match tea of delicious sandwiches, light snacks and a vast array of cakes with an accompanying cup of tea was taken in the pavillion on the edge of the green. In 1906 a Luncheon tent was provided and Sassoon describes the somewhat different and slightly humorous food preparation of lunch that day : “the brawny barman……sharpened the carving-knife on a steel prong with a rasping sound that set one’s teeth on edge while predicting satisfactory slices of lamb and beef, to say nothing of veal and ham pie and a nice bit of gammon and bacon.” A grace was said by the Rector of Rotherden who was known for “the strident and obstreperous bellow to which he gave vent when he was trying to bluff a village umpire into giving a batsman out “caught behind”.

In the 2009 match, fortified by the splendid tea, Matfield took to the field to try and outwit the Sherston batting line-up. During the Sherston innings, the weather took a turn for the worse but the team stuck to their task and the runs started to appear on the scoreboard at a good scoring rate. Barford and Lawson put on 45 for the first wicket. Lawson was bowled by Knott for 20 and Barford was eventually out for 65 bowled by Cooper. There was good support from the rest of the Sherston batting line-up, with notable contributions from Southwell and Heard who contributed 17 runs each. A late burst of sunshine after the rain not only saw a rainbow appear in the darkened sky over the village green but also a final flourish from the Sherston team and they scored the winning runs for the loss of 5 wickets.

The final presentation ceremony was very honoured by a visit from Derek Underwood fresh from his duties at Lords in his role of MCC President where he hosted The Queen for lunch during the 2nd Ashes test England v Australia. The winning captain Julian Hill was presented with the commemorative plate by Dennis Silk followed by the presentation to Matfield of a photograph of the teams who played in the 2008 match : a gift from the Siegfried Sassoon Foundation. Dennis Silk read ‘Everyone Sang’ and recounted how he first met Siegfried at a match between Cambridge University and Worcestershire in 1954 and said how much his friend would have relished the match played in 2009 on Matfield Village green. Derek Underwood wound up a memorable day with a short address and everyone dispersed with a promise to convene again next year. The match series now stands at 2-2 so there is everything to play for next year to take the lead in the series!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Return from Edinburgh

We had a fantastic time - the Edinburgh Fringe is a great place to see some very talented performers and exhibitors. The lesson for an artist is to book ahead a year in advance and ensure that the location is an official fringe venue - marketing is essential because there is competition from hundreds of other performers. Going to have a think about next year! Thanks to those who came to our exhibition!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Food Imagination

I try and avoid motorway service areas but just lately I've had to use them because of time constraints and it gives me such annoyance that the public are being short-changed in every way and are votong with their feet and staying away. Last night most of the menu was unavailable and what was on offer was a totally unappetising dried up pie and a fish and chips that looked like it had been cooked in a tub of batter about a week ago. Coffee is priced at almost £3 a cup - breakfast leaves almost no change from £10 if you have a drink with it - the nutritional value of food is not really considered. It's time we had a change! Why not hand over the running of one of these places to catering colleges. Swansea catering students run the restaurant in Singleton Park and do a great value for money job and produce interesting and appetising food with nutrition considered. If you go to France, the food is cooked to order and appears appetising and pretty good value for money. I'm sure the public will return if they feel that they are not being ripped off! healthy food in our bodies will make us all feel better and will in the long run mean that less people are spending time at the doctor and in hospital! rant over! 

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Swansea and Photography

January 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the pioneers of photography, John Dillwyn Llewelyn. We were talking last night at the opening of 'Facing the Future' Open Photography exhibition that it would be fitting to have the anniversary celebrated in some way in Swansea.

Photography was only available to those prominent families who had the wealth to pursue this medium, but it has now developed into an activity in which everyone can participate for a modest outlay on a simple digital or even film camera.

For a period of over 15 years in the Victorian age, Swansea could rightly claim to be in the forefront of some of the pioneering activities to progress photographic techniques and knowledge and it is something well worth a celebration 200 years later!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Forgotten Camera : Remembered Moment

Crowded summer train

Party mood despite some rain

A large group of revellers

Drink-induced animation maybe

Sprawled in standard class posing

Planning their clubbing

No, and why not ?


It all changed in a second

Modern communication

Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile – who knows ?

Hand-held phone to one ear,

Stella Artois in the other

‘Michael Jackson’s dead’

Hell, man - you're kidding!

Pinhole in a shoe-box

A rip in the canvas

The moment was frozen

Camera obscura

Punctum maybe

The train just went on though

And talk talk returned


All change at Swansea, end of the line

And sadly as it turned out : it was

Don’t leave any baggage behind

Take valuables along

Memories of a hundred parties past

And a hundred more now to come. 

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Facing the Future

Image - 'Out Walking - Brecon Beacons' - December 31 2008 (c) Rhys Jones

I'm very pleased to be participating in Elysium Gallery's first Open Photographic Exhibition opening on 11 July 19:00 and running until 8 August. If you can get there, the address is 41 High Street, Swansea - well worth supporting Swansea's main independently run gallery!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Proceed to Part II

Image : Hay Festival May 2009 (c) Rhys Jones
I hope anyone who reads this will forgive a piece of self-indulgence! It's been a long time since I've received any University (or any other for that matter!) exam resuts but I had some today! I've passed Part I of my course MA Photography : Contemporary Dialogues at Swansea Met and can now concentrate on Part II which will be a major project - a piece of public art work and a 7,000 word report. Part I has been a bit of a life-changer for me and to be honest it's not the easiest thing to change completely from doing something the same way for 20 years - a lot of soul-searching and self-doubt but I think it has given me some confidence and new skills. I've been fortunate to have made some good friends with people on a similar here's to another year when I hope to make the most of an opportunity that doesn't come our way all the time. So I think I'm going to allow myself a little celebration tomorrow night in No Sign Bar in Wind Street, Swansea!


I'm working on a new piece of work to develop the 'Postcards to Derrida' exhibit that I had on display at the Bath Festival. I've come across a website called Post Secret which contains some interesting examples where people write their secrets anonymously on a postcard. As part of my project I'm going to be asking people to send postcards with their thoughts - they just send them to me and if they are agreeable they will form part of an exhibit - all anonymous of course. I need to obtain funding for this work.

Monday, 29 June 2009

To Scotland

Images (c) Rhys Jones - May 2009

We are about to embark on some risky business trying to take an art exhibition to Scotland. We have a room and garden space in the back of a Nepalese Restaurant just opposite the Playhouse in Edinburgh and plan to exhibit during August with the main focus coming 17-21 August when we will be augmented by a number of poets and performers. We have a booking also in the Forest Cafe in the Old Town and will be staying at great expense to no-one in the Edinburgh Metro Youth Hostel.

As usual with the Edinburgh Fringe anything can happen at short notice and usaully does so we may well end up doing something else as well but we're looking forward to what we've got so far!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Road Trips

I'm sitting here at my PC completing an essay and presentation on Chinese Contemporary photography which is not easy for a person with itchy feet! Every so often I am diverted in my mind to Facebook and Twitter which of course is very pleasant because it means keeping in touch with friends but I must say I am also keen to experience total solitude. A few years ago I had an invitation to go to Finland to spend a week-end at a photography workshop near the Arctic Circle and I'm really tempted to go. I was told that the course would be held 32kms from civilisation and I was asked "Have you and your family ever experienced absolute and total silence!" The course even offered a free canoe to go out on the lake. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Bath Fringe Festival

Image (c) Rhys Jones - Unseen Light Postcard Installation May/June 2009
Our MA Part I exhibit is opening in the Walcot Chapel, Bath on Friday 22 May 18.00 - 21.00 and will be running from Saturday 23rd May until Sunday 7th June as part of the 2009 Bath Fringe Festival. I am planning to submit a series of images - static and in motion - which portray a reflection of an unseen and sometimes hidden light in which we exist. The world of reflections, dreams, traces of the present and past and pointers to our future. This is a very different and conscious shift in the style in which I am currently working. The camera is almost being used as part of the storytelling and sitting within an environment rather than as an instrument to depict. What we see when we look at a reflection depends on our mood, the atmosphere around us, whether we are alone or in a crowd, what we are thinking about past, present and future. We can also see when we are in a dream. It is very difficult and complex to read into a mind what is going on when we look at something.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Dimbola Lodge

I am on the Isle of Wight for the next few days staying with relatives. One of the places we always like to visit is the former home of the Victorian pioneer photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron. Dimbola Lodge is located near Freshwater Bay close to the cliffs on the south side of the island where Tennyson used to walk and also close to the site of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. There is a permanent exhibit of the festival in Dimbola Lodge museum and a statue of Jimi Hendrix has been placed in the grounds. Well worth a detour from the coastal path or round the island cycle route! 

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

In an act of possible sheer stupidity to think that it can be pulled off, I have got an option on 10 rooms in Edinburgh Metro Youth Hostel in the hope that a Phoenix may arise from the flames in the form of a coherent production for the Edinburgh Fringe by a diverse group of visual artists, poets and musicians not all of whom are currently known to me! But this is the way of the world with this have to do it first and ask questions later! The rooms are really quite reasonable at £27.50 a night for 4 nights from 17-21 August. If anyone fancies their chances on the fringe then this could be just the springboard you are looking for! Drop me an email 

Monday, 13 April 2009

Sound Bite 2009

I had a great time at the 2009 Sound Bite Festival at St Donats Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan near Cardiff. I ran two full day photography workshops for Atlantic College students. We exhibited the work produced in the gallery. I took some images of some of the other artists and performers - poets, musicians and dancers - and made some new friends. The festival this year was smaller than the previous festival in 2007. In some ways it was a miracle that it was held at all - St Donats Arts Centre had been on the verge of possible closure and serious curtailment of their programme of events due to loss of Arts Council funding so it was good to see that this festival was able to take place and I was very pleased to be invited to take part.

I'm taking a few days break in the week after Easter - the last few weeks have been extremely pressured for one reason or another so I need to take a few days out to recharge and pick up some long overdue reading and correspondence.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Another year beginning!

April 10th 2009 is the start of another year on this planet for me. We are planning to meet up with my family today - it's not easy to get us all together these days and it's not going to get any easier. This is the first birthday I will have had since my dad passed away so it will have a different feel but I'm sure his presence will be felt by everyone and I'm sure we will all have a great time. Unfortunately the weather is not great today - rain at the moment and more forecast! Talk about raining on my parade! LOL

Friday, 20 March 2009


Exhibition of my work at St Donats Arts Centre 2007

I am trying to put some of my work on a new site - Wordpress seems a good place. Watch this space and hopefully it will take shape

My old website needs an overhaul but has a collection of archive images.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Sound Bite Festival - St Donats Art Centre

Images (c) Rhys Jones Sound Bite Festival 2007

I will be running two photography workshop at St Donats Castle as part of the Atlantic College Sound Bite Festival on Friday March 27 and Saturday March 28. I took part in the festival in 2007 and it's nice to be asked back by the organisers. The workshops are aimed at 15-18 year olds with the morning concentrating on theory and the afternoon on practical work. I am preparing what I hope will be an interesting programme for both days. The first day will be aimed at beginners and the second will be aimed at those with some experience already. It was a very inspiring experience to work with such talented students.

The event runs from 26-29 March and is well worth a visit - check with the St Donats website for the full programme.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Infra red remote control

This neat little device from Nikon will enable the user to take a photo of themselves or other people remotely via infra red technology. A 2-second time delay can be set or an instant shot. Will enhance creative opportunities for the photographer. Can be used by the photographer up to 16 metres away from the camera. I ordered my device from Search for Nikon ML-L3 remote control - £14.99 + postage at the current time. It should be good for all applications but especially for shots involving nature or people.

Don't leave home without one!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

White Room postscript

Image : Rocks off Port Eynon, Gower (c) Rhys Jones

Thanks to everyone who volunteered for the White Room. I have created a facebook group if anyone wants to add their name there. I will contact everyone individually to arrange a photo session. My normal PC and wireless network is out of service right now so I might be slower than usual in responding until I get it fixed.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The White Room - looking for volunteers

Image : Harley's Cardiff Arcade November 2008 (c) Rhys Jones

So here's the deal....I'm looking for volunteers to take part in a project to explore identity, things that are important to us, how we see ourselves, how others see us, our dreams and fantasies, traces from our past, traces from a past life. I'm trying to explore this in photography. I've set up a project called the White Room. It will be a simply furnished room with a window, table and chair. I will take 3 images in this room as detailed below. I will set the whole thing up and will travel if necessary. This is be part of my practical work on the MA Photography : Contemporary Dialogues Programme at Swansea Metropolitan University I am on the Programme part-time over 3 years.

Image 1 - how we see ourselves

Come dressed in anything you find comfortable and bring 4 or 5 items which mean something to you and which you feel establish your identity. You will arrange the room and the items how you like.

Image 2 - how others may see you / our basic identity

In this image, I will arrange the room and ask you to wear a simple white garment like a sheet or blanket. The items I would like you to bring are 4 or 5 items that you would like to save if you were asked to destroy all your possessions. These are the essentials for continuing your life. One item should be something from your past which you would like to pass on to a future generation. One item should be something that you need and may make you feel uncomfortable but nevertheless something that you would not want to lose.

Image 3 - how you would like to be in your dreams or fantasies

In this image, I would like you to wear something that you do not normally wear but something that you would like to wear in a dream or fantasy or something that you would like to wear which will make other people notice that there is a change to your appearance or behaviour. You may bring 4 or 5 items to help act out this dream. We will agree how the room is to be arranged for this image.

I will set up a group on Facebook if you would like to add your name or if you would prefer please email me at

Thanks in advance if you would like to volunteer!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Interview on Arrival

Image - Gate A18 (c) Rhys Jones, April 2006

I am always up for a challenge so when my very talented 'met on Myspace' writer friend based in San Diego, California, Heather Fowler, told me that she was running a daily flash writing challenge last November and wanted one of my images as one of the daily challenges I submitted the above not knowing that she would then ask me to write my story based on the image. This is it "Interview on Arrival" - it needs a lot more refinement - but I thought it would be nice to give it an airing and get a little bit of feedback. Take a look at Heather's Myspace site and add her as a friend! Tell her you know me in the request. She has a lot of her own work on display and a lot of work by some very talented contributors. Her energy for writing and art is very inspiring!

In fact, this is a good opportunity to say a big start of 2009 thank you to all the talented friends who have inspired me last year! I always try and write to people individually by 'old-fashioned' email but sometimes it is nice to say it publicly as well!

Interview on Arrival

Day 1 19.50 Aeroport de Nice, France

The midweek flight from London has disembarked a full passenger load
into the ambre-solaire scented atmosphere of a Cote D'Azur spring
evening. Amongst the holiday makers, business people, the glamorous
chic and the downright ordinary on the passenger list was a
silver-haired man who limped heavily across the tarmac to the waiting
terminal bus. He carried a brown, battered and shabby attache case, the sort to be found in only the best cold-war espionage films of the
1960s. Two hours earlier he had boarded the flight at London's
Heathrow Airport having transferred from a flight from Edinburgh the
night before.

The man had no other luggage and joined the long queue at Passport
Control. Within the next hour he found himself sitting behind a desk
in a suffocatingly small room interrogated by a man and a woman from
the French police service concerning the disappearance of his family,
a fire at his home, and the discovery of his luggage 5,000 miles away
with a vast quantity of money, drugs and evidence of a trail of crime.
The man had no recollection of how he came to be in this interrogation
room, no recollection of his family and home and no recollection of
his accumulation of items in his luggage.

Over the next 48 hours the interrogators will attempt to piece
together what information they can....................

Day 1 21.30

The female police officer switched on the recorder and spoke the legally obliged words in French to certify those present in the room and the time of recording. An interpreter who had been appointed with a lawyer to represent the man, confirmed the same in English to the man who sat silently and sipped a cup of expresso coffee which had been placed on the table in front of him together with a bottle of mineral water and a glass.

She continued in French “My name is Inspector Francine Laporte from the Nice Police Department and this is my colleague Sergeant Yves Lecombe. We need to ask you some questions. Would you please confirm your name, address and the reason for your business in the South of France ?”

The lawyer responded that his client had no recollection of his name or place of abode. The sergeant then read from the passport of the man which stated that the person to whom the passport had been issued was Frederick Thomas Lyle born April 30, 1928 in Dundee, Scotland.

Is this your passport, monsieur ? The man looked at it and said that although he recognized the photograph, he could confirm no other detail in the passport.

The line of enquiry continued for the hour without any significant further progress.

Day 1 22.55

The tape recorder was switched off and the police officers left the interview room and walked along the sidewalk under the dim street lighting of a side road in centre-ville. They talked for a while then Laporte took a call on her mobile phone. They returned to the interview room, 35 minutes later.

Day 1 23.30

The tape recorder resumed and again confirmed those present in the room. The attaché case was placed on the table.

“Will you please open the case, monsieur ” asked the Sergeant.

The man carefully flicked the locks and opened the lid. He removed a panama hat, a pair of grey trousers, a pair of spectacles, a notepad and pencil and a post card of a painting by Picasso ‘Les Demoiselles D’Avignon’. The remaining clothing articles were tipped out in a single turn of the case : socks, pants, swiss army-knife, till receipts, a parking fine receipt and a bag of mint humbugs – the sort that used to be popular with kids back in the 1960s.

Inspector Laporte picked up the notepad and thumbed her way through the contents : notes about works of art, tickets to exhibitions, an entrance pass to a series of lectures on Cubism.

She looked at the occupation written in his passport ; Importer/Exporter. “Do you buy works of art Mr Lyle ?”

“I cannot remember”, he replied…..”I don’t think so”.

Inspector Laporte then turned another page in the notebook and found a key taped onto the page : the sort of key that might open a left-luggage locker. Also on the page was a reminder in a scribbled pencil note “Meet Greenock 7.45pm”

“Who is Greenock, monsieur?.........a friend, work colleague ?”

“I don’t know anyone by that name”, I am afraid. The conversation went on for another hour about each of the objects in the suitcase. The two police officers terminated the interview and told the man that they would be returning the next morning.

They walked outside and talked some more before getting into their cars and driving off into the sultry night.

Day 2 06.30

Francine Laporte’s three young children were sitting having their breakfast cereal, jam, hot chocolate and baguettes before she took them down the street to wait for the school bus. The red-chequered plastic table cloth was scattered with plates, jam, spilt sugar and chocolate powder and smeared with the grease from the butter dish. She picked up the cereal packets, milk cartons and the white packet of sugar and put them back into the kitchen cupboards and the fridge. She huuried the children out of the house and down to the waiting school bus. She kissed each child and then walked back to the house, unlocked the car parked in the street, and drove off to work. She drove along Boulevard des Anglais, switched on the morning news to hear that police in Liverpool were keen to interview a man in connection with the disappearance of a man last seen boarding a flight to London at Edinburgh International Airport. “Meurde, of course, why didn’t I think of that! Surely it is too much of a coincidence!”

Day 2 09.45

Laporte and Lecombe sat in the interview room. She was very animated after an early morning visit to the library. “Of course, it could be a total coincidence, but what name is in his passport ?” Lecombe replied “Lyle” but didn’t understand the connection with Liverpool. “Look at the postcard in his suitcase…the reverse…where is that painting now ?” “Yes, of course…the Tate Gallery, Liverpool….Tate…Lyle…sugar…is that a co-incidence ? But look here is another connection…Greenock….look at this article about renovation of the former sugar warehouses in the James Watt Dock in Greenock, Scotland! We need to speak with the police there.

Day 2 21.55

Laporte, Lecombe are sitting at the table in the interview room opposite Lyle and are showing him a series of press cuttings about a major renovation of the 120 year-old sugar warehouses in Port Greenock near Glasgow. Police have cordoned off a whole area and have employed contractors to excavate beneath the old warehouse floor.

Lyle is obviously not in the correct frame of mind to reveal his motives but one could almost feel that he wanted to lead the police to the scene of the crime but in a most bizarre manner employing almost too obvious connections.

“OK, that’s great for today” shouts the director. “We’ll resume tomorrow at 10am for the final script meeting before full rehearsals begin. We need to work a little more on those sugar connections. Great work, you three…I could almost believe I was in the interview room, myself. Love the French accents!”

Monday, 12 January 2009

2009 Discoveries (or Re-Discoveries)

Thought I would post two new links for interesting blogs from people who seem to me to put in a lot of care and effort to create something which informs and entertains.

Stephen Fry - especially interesting are his pieces on Oscar Wilde short stories. Fry seems to me to embody all that is good about the use of modern technology.

Karina Westermann (Karie) has a literary blog which has been running since 2001. I read it in a former incarnation as '' but now it is Fourth Edition and is a blueprint for all blogs in my opinion!


My mind is still active at this hour and I'm sitting here suddenly concerned by the amount of surveillance and scrutiny of our every movement there is on the internet. I am guilty of a modest amount - I'm quite interested in where people access this page from and I guess not surprisingly the majority of logons are from the UK but some sites record logon ids, IP addresses, time of day. I suppose if I was running a business web site I would be interested to know that but otherwise it smacks a little of Big Brother in the George Orwell sense of the word.

Anyway for the record here are the usage stats for this site over the last month :

United Kingdom (70.32%)
United States (14.84%)
Unknown (not sure what this can be - maybe Internet cafes) (8.52%)
Estonia (1.46%)
Sweden (1.22%)
Canada (0.97%)
Australia (0.49%)
Israel (0.49%)
Norway (0.24%)
Portugal (0.24%)
Spain (0.24%)
Denmark (0.24%)
Turkey (0.24%)
Czech Republic (0.24%)
Belgium (0.24%)

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Almost into another decade

Image : Shop Door in Mumbles on a Christmas Day 2008 Walk (c) Rhys Jones
It seems just yesterday that we were in 1999 and on the threshold of a new millennium and now already a decade has passed. Just thinking back to that period, the internet was quite new to most people and operated over a 56Kb dial up phone line and was very slow. Images and sound files took an eternity to transmit. Email was the 'new' way to communicate then. Now we have all the technology we need to set up a recording studio in our front room and take photographs, put them into an on-line album and send that album half way round the world.
The great American landscape photographer Ansel Adams was also an enthusiastic mailer - of the traditional kind - using the US Postal Service. He wrote letters to photographers, his parents, politicians, writers, artists,kids throughout the whole of his life. I wonder what he would have made of blogging -I think he probably would have been very enthusiastic about having a platform for his work and his views -although I believe his work would have spoken for him had he not chosen to engage in this medium.
I must say that I've met some very interesting people since 1999 when I first took to thecyberspace highway and I doubt if I would have encountered them otherwise. It is interesting that phones with video cameras embedded in them have not taken off as predicted in 1999 - the idea of being able to see someone at the other end of a phone does not seem to have had the same appeal - possibly because of the cost involved.