still at it
Another busy patch with the deadline looming for Great Gardens of Britain. First to Northern Ireland and the garden at Mount Stewart, filled with eccentric statues and topiary, including an Irish harp and the Red Hand of Ulster laid out in begonias. Sounds naff, and indeed some of it is, but much more is amazingly beautiful and wildly ambitious. The setting is good too, on the shores of Strangford Lough looking across to the Mourne Mountains.
Concrete statues abound – dodos, pigs, monkeys and even a benign Disney dinosaur, below.
Then home and immediately up to Yorkshire to shoot Scampston Hall and down to London to snatch some autumn pictures at Kew. Finally to the joyous venue of Heathrow’s Terminal 4, to meet Helena on her return from a research trip to Calabria and coincidentally to wave off some friends on their way to India. What a depressing and banal building for somewhere that should be buzzing with anticipation.
Most unusually for me, a line of verse came into my mind while driving north. It wouldn’t go away, so that by the end of the day I not only had some satisfactory pictures but also the better part of a clumsy sonnet – on the short side, so a sort of reduced-fat sonnet. I’m not sure what to call it – ‘Photographer at work’? – ‘Lines composed while on the M62’? I haven’t attempted a poem since I was eight; anyway, at serious risk of ridicule, here it is:
The rising sun strikes sideways. Pixels sing.
Each leaf and branch reveals its own true form.
I put the icy burden of my camera down
With fingers rendered clumsy by the cold.
A chilly hour waiting through the dawn –
No price to pay for this small shard of time
Unlike all others since the world began
And different from all those still unborn.
A homage paid to beauty, I give thanks
That I was here today and I saw this.
One day, an epitaph. Yes. I SAW THIS