Tuesday, 10 October 2017

NHUNG DANG - Just the way you are


It was a dull day, so far as the weather was concerned, and yet Nhung lit up my life in this marvellous picture. The light floods in through the sash window and daubs white not only on me but on the objects which define me - the gramophone player to my right, sitting on top of the cupboard we bought years ago and which we have filled with photographs and video tapes of family. The surface of the wood underneath the sound system has been scratched and gouged by the feet of the old TV that sat there at our beloved Ravenswood but, no matter, they tell a story.

"You may not believe this" I replied, "but it is the cigarette burns and stains I am really buying. They are so incredibly far out"

The records to my left, the books, the sheet music and the scrapbooks and the chair on which I sit all evoke so many memories. So many. Nhung has her own story which she tells me as I sit there and try to think of an answer to the question - how does that jacket make you feel? "Flamboyant" I reply. It does. I am not big on clothes and I have little dress sense but the guy in the shop saw me coming and even though I asked to try on something completely different, he swerved and he swayed and I ended up walking out of the shop holding something I wasn't sure that I would ever have the nerve to wear. In fact, after that day, whenever I walked past the shop wearing another coat, I felt the salesman's eyes on me and him mouthing"what the f...." But buy it I did and wear it I have done and, when I do, I feel flamboyant.

No. It is not bird shit on my black jeans but paint. Household paint. "Casual and Fat" should be the caption here but I cannot complain. Nhung photographed me as she found me. The sheep on top of the column to my left knows nothing. I wonder if sheep have any understanding of 'casual'? I love this garden - it is tiny but manageable which is more than can be said of my stomach but, forget all that and look at the photograph. Everything around me is crisp and black and white. I am not thinking of how I shall look in the picture -  I am thinking "casual". After this shot was taken, Nhung asked me if I wanted to try a different pose so I turned about 45 degrees to my left and stood the same way.


After the effort of standing in two different poses in my garden, I had to rest. I get so tired sometimes but I find it difficult to nap in my bed and I have found that lying on the floor of the dining area off the kitchen is much more restful and, if you need any convincing of that, I can tell you that I nodded off while Nhung took these shots and woke up with a wonderful rush of refreshment when the shutter clicked. 

"Please don't wake me, 
No, don't shake me, 
Leave me where I am, 
I'm only sleeping"

I don't remember. I don't remember saying that I felt shy when this was taken but certainly my body language betrays that feeling. This was taken in our basement where there is a lovely gentle light. I have filmed a lot down there. I asked Nhung, "Do you want me to move the table?" She said "No". Everything looks perfect in this shot - the flowers, the edge of the tablecloth, my hand on my leg, the whiteness of my shirt and the little brass bolts on the shutters. 

"Is that not how good stories run?"

Formal? Smart? Or sad that the day is drawing to a close? I have absolutely no idea where this expression came from and yet it is sodden with love and gratitude and compassion. People often ask how I feel when I see so many pictures of myself. I find that, usually, I look at them objectively - that the person I see is often someone else but here, in this picture, I see my heart and my soul. I see the boy at school, the man who fell in love. I see the other side. I am astonished by this photograph. I wonder if  I am mistaken but no, it is all there. And Nhung found it and pressed the shutter at just the right moment.  

"This time, at last, it is the real, the unmistakable thing, simple - passionate- perfect-"

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