|JOURNEYMAN by Dave Wares|
I was a solicitor from 1st October 1977 to 24th June 2006. I was articled at the firm of Raper & Co in Chichester, West Sussex and then, when I was qualified, I joined the firm of Burley & Geach in Haslemere, Surrey first of all as an assistant solicitor and then as a partner. I worked hard, I worked long hours and towards the end, I found the job very stressful. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in November 2005 and I retired in June 2006. I think I found the job stressful because of my illness. It is a slow moving condition and certainly, the first signs had appeared in 1999 but, at that time, I had no idea that they were the symptoms of Parkinson's. It maybe that I had the disease well before 1999 but suffice to say that I was battling with an unknown foe for the last seven years of my legal career. I used to dream of giving up the law. Indeed, I had always wanted to become an actor but although I managed to do some acting and even find an agent to represent me, my financial commitments (e.g. mortgage, school fees, fast women, slow cars - spot the lie) were such that I could not really contemplate early retirement and a change of career. I would have had to be extremely foolhardy or brave to have retired in those circumstances. But it was handed to me on a plate. It was as if God had said to me [God speaks in booming voice from Heaven] "I shall give thee what thou desirest but there shalt be a catch....". The catch was Parkinson's. So Lucky Tim was plucked by the angels out of a legal career and dropped on a beach in East Sussex at sunset with a guy called Dave who photographed him facing the sun and holding a case. Hang on, I've missed a bit. The bit in between from 2007 to 2015, during which time I have been photographed by over 360 photographers. A photographic journey full of wonderful people and places. Full of images of me swimming in the sea off the coast of Scotland in my suit, lying naked on a ledge in a wood near Huddersfield, dancing on the steps of St. Pauls, running along a beach in France, dancing to Madness on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, sliding into an MRI scanner and hanging on to a branch of a tree wearing only underpants on a freezing day in February.A journey full of films about Zorro, The Black Thumbnail, Mr Merryweather QC, The Wiggle Woggles and Roger A Destroyer. A journey accompanied by my colleague Parkinson's Disease and its incessant attempts to make things more difficult by giving me a tremor, stiffness, slowness, dyskinesia, freezing of movement, slurred speech, loss of sense of smell, erectile dysfunction and loss of balance. A journey from lovely Ravenswood in Milford, Surrey to Brighton, East Sussex.
Where was I? Oh yes, Dave Wares. Well, I found out about him through a link to his work on Twitter. I went on his website and there were glorious photographs of castles, deserted buildings, landscapes, seascapes and street photography. I contacted him by email. He hadn't heard of my project but he looked at my blog and my film of my talk at Brighton Medical Centre and he said yes. So, not very long afterwards, I was on the beach at Birling Gap at sunset, holding a case and being photographed by Dave who had driven all the way from Hastings to Brighton to collect me. He had several ideas most of which were very successfully executed. This was the first to be tried - holding my case and looking out to sea and beyond. It might be thought that this was a representation of my past and in some ways it is but it also shows me now, still travelling with a case full of memories and tools with which to cope with a unknown future, a future that we all contemplate every now and then.
After these shots, we tried others including different poses in front of the sun, which was slowly sinking, and with a flash attached to an umbrella shade. We also played a bit with the case so that Dave could work on the shots on photoshop later. Dave had brought with him a snickers bar for each of us but, as the sun disappeared over the horizon, we agreed that we had done well and now it was time for a beer and something a bit more substantial to eat. All this time, we had chatted mainly about the photographs but in the car he had told me of his own photographic journey from taking snaps on a small digital camera to 35mm slides to his present DSLR. In the pub, we talked more and carried on talking on the way back to Brighton when it dawned on me how extraordinarily kind and selfless he had been to do all that driving.
I received a set of photographs from Dave shortly afterwards and I thought they were wonderful. I loved the ones with the flash which, as Dave said, had a very surreal quality to them. I was also very drawn to the two of me dancing and initially I earmarked one of those as the photograph for my project. The one of me jumping could have worked but it didn't quite. It was my idea to jump and Dave caught it beautifully but my leap wasn't as graceful as I had imagined it. In the end it was a choice between the one of me standing with the case and one of me dancing. I began to feel that the latter, as great an image as it is, was not quite as genuine as the former. This spoke to me in a variety of ways. It is a fantastic shot, it speaks of the past, present and the future. It means more. The title is Dave's but I was happy to adopt it too. Both the image and the title recall the words of Ralph McTell's song "The Ferryman". Dave has introduced yet another brilliant picture into my project. Fuelled by his imagination, his love of photography and the skills he has picked up over the years, he has created an excellent image. And, yet again, it has been proven that all photographers are really, really nice people
Oh, the traveller, moving on the land,
Behold I give you I give you the travelling man.
And he's very heavy laden
With the questions of his burden.
Lo, and I give you the travelling man.
He has crossed the mountains,
He has forded streams,
He has spent a long time, surviving on his dreams.