Last summer, I returned to the UK for the first time in four years — the longest I’ve ever gone without a visit since arriving in Japan just over two decades ago. A period of time that in different ways was traumatic for both me, and the country of my birth. Changes and experiences that made the photographs I took while visiting seem somehow poignant, or at the very least slightly symbolic. The resultant series, along with more of an explanation, can be seen here.
This year, however, things were slightly different. Going back after only a year away made the trip seem much less significant, plus the impact of what I’d been through, and the disappointment surrounding the Brexit vote, were dampened somewhat by the simple passage of time. And yet this summer’s photographic output isn’t all that different from last year. Partly, no doubt, due to the ongoing nature of both sets of events, but it’s probably more to do with the fact that I tend to shoot similar things anyway: people, decay and those unexpected scenes that make being out with a camera so rewarding.
Below then are the photos. Images from a place I used to call home. A country that is altogether familiar, and yet at the same time nowhere near as familiar as it was once.
What a lovely country is this England of yours…
But seriously, as a holiday spot England is amazing 🙂
I couldn’t agree more. I had a thoroughly good time there too. But yeah, the photos don’t necessarily paint a very positive picture. Much more of what I’m drawn to, rather than an honest representation.
What a great collection. From sign evangelist and victorian doctor to potage elbows and abandoned pubs.
Did you play football on that field as a kid?
My favourite is the red door, complete with observation chair.
Thanks! Definitely a bit of variety.
Nah, the field was actually a school when I was a kid, but not far from where I grew up. And yeah, that red door is a favourite of mine as well. Getting down there to get the photo wasn’t easy, but very glad I made the effort.
Cool set. Great to see another country I don’t know through your eyes!! 🙂
Thanks! Not an especially flattering series, but a good representation of what I saw, and where I enjoyed exploring.
You’ve certainly captured the skies and familiar face of Mancheste,.
and a typical Fylde (?) seaside scene complete with intriguing ‘safety barriers’ down at the ‘AA’ beach Kiosk; a place where it seems that most things can be had at a stretch,
and the interesting locals; the man in the hat might have medicinal sausage rolls and pies in that bag, and hopefully a few carrots for the horse,
and those geese are just like Hilda Ogden’s ducks.
It was definitely good to spend some time in central Manchester itself, despite the predictably inclement weather. Oh, and the sign and kiosk were in St Annes.
Haha, a medicinal pie or two could definitely be in his bag. And good call on the bird formation. Hadn’t though of it like that, but yes, very Hilda Ogden-esque!
Hi Lee —
I spent lots of time in England in the 1970s and 1980s but have not been there since 1994. It used to be that you’d think that, since so much there is old, not much changes there. But I’ve been told by many Brits that Britain in the second decade of the 21st century is so very different from how Britain was in the late 20th century. What do you reckon?
Yeah, I’d definitely agree with that. Things have changed a lot. Well, at least to me they have anyway, but I visit sporadically, so I guess I’m more aware of even smaller changes.
But the town and city and grew up in have changed enormously since I left in the late 90s, although city centre Manchester itself was bombed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Manchester_bombing), so of course that prompted massive development.
Apart from redevelopment (or indeed a lack of it), probably the biggest difference I notice is the closure of so many pubs. Many have become different kinds of businesses or homes, plus lots are left abandoned like the one in the series. Personally, I always feel there’s something really quite sad about that. Not quite sure why, but they were meeting places, centres of fun, plus of course a rite of passage of sorts for young drinkers. Certainly places I enjoyed spending a lot of time in. But times and culture change, and while there’ll always been a place for them, for better or worse they’ll never be as big a part of life as they once were.
I am laughing at that defiled “Fylde” sign. 😀
It reminds me of that Sankarea japanese “horror gender” manga character named Ranko oftenly called as “Wanko” by her own cousin in the story.
On a side note, the writings on the walls also gives “a rebel youth vibe”/rebel presence to the theme. It is true, all around the world people are a bit crazy when they are young.
Yes, that amused me a lot too. Whoever did it made a real effort as well!
Talking of “wanko”, a morning TV show here has a segment titled, Kyo no Wanko (today’s dog). A programme that makes me smile each and every time!
Yeah, I found that little underpass fascinating. Not your usual graffiti for sure…
Ah the joy of Homophones! Synonyms just aren’t as much fun and not worthy of a confessional.
That program is totally ‘barking’ BTW, although one already needs to tread carefully in the UK.
From Ernest to more earnest in the first image, to the sun worship in the middle (should there be gargoyles?) and through to the hollowed out tunnel dwellers. It’s a long time since the Beagle!
Quite a journey in that sense, and whether there should be gargoyles I don’t know, but they would have made a very welcome addition!
But yeah, a very long time since the Beagle…
Yes a beautiful brick & mortar wall supporting a slightly modified Fylde sign. Best laugh I have had in weeks. Thanks !
But I doubt it is exactly what the Borough Council had in mind.
Glad to hear it, and you are very welcome. It made me laugh a lot too, so thanks really go to the unknown and meticulous artist.
No, probably not what they had in mind, or expected, but hopefully the new version will be left to amuse future passersby.
Stephen Wreakes says
A bittersweet series of photographs. I grew up in Blackpool, but the England I remember is long gone. My family moved to Canada when I was 10 and I currently live in Edmonton.
Really enjoy your Tokyo photos. Hope to visit Japan again someday.
Yeah, bittersweet probably sums them up perfectly. I had a thoroughly good time, and there’s an awful lot of good things about Britain, but at the same time, there are an awful lot of bad things too. Just the same as any country in that respect I suppose, but being from there, I think I tend to hold it to higher standards if that makes sense. Either way though, it’s interesting to see what pictures I come away with, and to wonder if they represent my feelings in any meaningful or accurate way.
Ah, Blackpool. As a kid that was invariably the place to go for a day out at the seaside. It was only an hour or so away. There were the lights too. Always a treat. Not been for years now, but by all accounts it’s somewhat rough around the edges to say the least. Have you been back at all?
Thank you very much. I’ve said it before, but it really is nice to hear that other people get something out of the photos I take.
Sure you’ll get back here in the not too distant future. It’s changing a lot, but deep down Japan is still very much Japan!
Stephen Wreakes says
I have not been back to England since 1978! Perhaps it’s time.
One of out daughters taught English in Shizuoka City, so we spent a fair bit of time there when we visited Japan. I still really enjoyed getting lost in Tokyo though.
That is a long time ago. Certainly been a few changes since then!
Yeah, I know that feeling. It’s a wonderful city to just wander about in. Even now it never ceases to amaze me what things I can see/find when out and about.
Ron marden says
It’s to bad a person can never really go home again after they leave, it’s never the same as they remember. All my family is gone and someone else lives in my house, I have nothing now.
That’s pretty much what I wanted to say, except your version is much more succinct, and far more powerful.