|TIME PASSES by Amanda Harman|
To begin at the beginning...........
We turn off the A27 to The Witterings and my heart begins to beat faster. We pass the block of flats where I once babysat (in about 1971) with my girlfriend at the time. She lived with her family in Grosvenor Road but, as we pass that road a few yards further down, I think not of the girlfriend but of my late sister, Janet, who died at the Hospice there in 1996. Another quarter of a mile or so, on the left is where a very nice old man called Mr Broadbridge used to live. When I was articled to Raper & Co, solicitors, in Chichester, my principal, Mr Underhill, sent me to see Mr Broadbridge about a planning application. He lived on his own in an ancient cottage surrounded by a large area of garden. He died some years ago now and the house has gone, replaced by modern light industrial buildings - the planning application was successful. Then we come to the turning to Dell Quay where we all had that last drink with Janet after she had taken communion in the hospice garden. The road swings round a bend and we head for the Birdham Straight. I am now almost breathless with memories pumping through my brain. My eyes are soaked with sadness and wonder as I drive through Birdham and past the nursery where I once worked, the Lamb Pub where my mother, working behind the bar, met her great friend Sue, past Redlands Lane where Keith Richards lives still. I am getting closer now - Malthouse Cottages, along the road where Jane and I travelled, as friends, drinking whisky from the bottle as we drove, Nunnington Farm, Gaiety Fair, Royce Way where there were once only fields and trees, The Old House at Home which we rushed to arrive at before closing time on a Sunday, the Village Green where I caught the Number 53 bus to school and where the garage and Miss Marmont's grocery store once stood and then round one bend and then the other and it comes into sight. Berry Cottage. The house where we lived from 1964. The house where I grew up, where we had buckets catching the rain dripping through the roof, where I would run down the hall and leap and pretend to head the ceiling light as I would head a goal, the house with the latches and light switches that clacked and clicked, the fire that would smoke the lounge out if the wind was in the wrong direction, the downstairs loo with the postcards stuck to the walls, the red front door, the barn where we kept the goat, the field where we kept the cow, the wall over which Barker the dalmation leaped to his death, the biscuit tin painted red by my mother and nailed to the wall to impersonate a burglar alarm, the larder, my bedroom, the cat door, the birdbath, all surge through my head as the car passes and I look and remember.
We carry on, Amanda and I, down Berry Barn Lane and we park in the drive of a dear friend who allows us to do so but whom I ask every time, to be polite. The sea is out and is almost invisible. We amble along and Amanda stops at some dunes and takes some photographs ending with this one, her favourite. My feet dig into the sand not wanting to let go of that feeling of powdery warmth. I lean forward playfully under the leaden sky and 'click' the last photograph is taken. There is one more memory. As we walk back along the path linking the beach to The Strand, a man passes us riding his bike. I look at the wheels pressing the patterns of the tyres onto the mixture of sand and chalky stone and I see the wheels of my bike. I see my feet on the pedals, I see the 13 year old boy slowly falling in love with all that life can offer. I see the past. I taste it. I inhale it.
Earlier in the day, Amanda arrived at our house in Brighton, which coincidentally, also has a leak in the roof and we chat and drink tea and I showed her snippets of the documentary I made of Berry Cottage. Amanda had favourited a tweet about my shoot with Kathy Foote and I was very impressed when I looked at the work on her website. She asked me which work of hers I was particularly taken by. Well, take your pick. The girl in blue in Rwanda, the pictures of empty spaces full of story and the section entitled Tidal Reaches which I said reminded me of my beloved West Wittering where I had lived as a child. She then replied that Wittering had played a part in her life as a child also. It was then that we decided to shoot there. We met subsequently at the the degree show of UWE Bristol which was held at The Bargehouse on the South Bank. Amanda was very friendly and I knew that we would get on well. We did. She concentrates on each photograph and knows exactly what she wants from it and gets it. She goes straight to the heart of her subject. In my case, the beating heart of life and love, of experience which informs the present, of me. She is an excellent photographer who sweeps by but then stops, takes a step back and takes a shot and then carries on to the next, pauses, considers and clicks and before you know it, there is a chronicle of time and emotion frozen by the combination of her expert eye, her innate sense of composition and her love of people and the places they inhabit.
Time passes. Listen. Time passes.