180 seconds

Some of you will I know I’m going through a divorce and have had to move out of the matrimonial home. I’d been moving stuff piecemeal (what I could get into the car) for weeks. From Bolton to Adlington, about 10 miles. One Saturday a few weeks back I was driving back from Adlington to Bolton on the A675. It was raining and dark. I noticed something on the road that looked like a massive piece of aluminium…as I got closer I realised it was a scooter on its side…

I slammed on…put the hazards on…at the same time traffic in the opposite direction was approaching…I flashed and flashed then got out of my car and jumped in front of the fallen scooter and waived my arms…

A lovely man coming in the opposite direction slammed on and put his hazards on.

I then rang 999 and asked for the ambulance and police.

I was asked by the emergency services a lot of questions. Were they conscious, was there any blood, did they have a pulse etc. I’m no medical professional so I tried to find out as much as I could. I went to the person and kept asking “you ok buddy? You ok buddy?” Nothing…I was literally sh*ting my pants when…

The person took a massive inhale of breath and grabbed my hand….fuck me, brilliant…

She hung on and on and on…(it turned out she was a young girl – she had a lot of biker gear on, plus helmet, it was dark etc.)

And I just thought…I’ve got you now…just hang on…

Shortly after an ambulance tech and the police showed up…

As far as I can ascertain the young lady was on the way to see her boyfriend when she came off her scooter.

Never under estimated 180 seconds of holding hands. Sometimes that’s all you have…

I still cry about it today. I thought I’d met a dead person. And motorists from either side were shouting at me to let them through.

What has happened to humanity?

The only kind person was the person in the car coming in the opposite direction he said to me “You’re a good man” and I simply thought…”who wouldn’t do this?”

Adventures Of A Wedding Photographer

Disclaimer: Any photographs displayed are not representative of any of the ‘stories’

They’re simply for illustrative purposes…

Mother of the bride “Make me look beautiful”

Me “It’s a camera not a wand” 😂😂😂

Bride (4’6” about 15st – 210 lbs) “You’ve made me look fat”

I’ve not been your dietician for the past 30 years!

Guest “Have you photographed weddings before?”

“No I usually work for the local morgue photographing cadavers, but it’s my day off today…”

“What side does the Grooms family sit on?”

“Whatever the Bride says…”

Was once photographing a wedding in Liverpool when the Bride and her mother started arguing about her choice of groom. They’d been together 12 years and had two children! It came to fisticuffs. I left….

Plenty of more tales for another day…

I’m a loner but never lonely

I was born in Sunderland. Saturday 7th July 1962. I lived in my grandparents house in Cooper Street until I was 1.

Then we moved to Southwick in Sunderland. Cato Square. Don’t even think it exists anymore.

At about 9 years old we moved to Barmston in Washington. During that time Washington really was a New Town! Lots of green space between it and Sunderland. No Nissan getting in the way!

I used to go out exploring at weekends and all school holidays. It was a fantastic time. I used to explore the area between Barmston and what was Sunderland Airport (now Nissan).

There were 3 main areas if I recall.

Barmston Pond.

Some ‘Pill Box’

And ‘The Black Forest’.

When Sunderland air show was on I’d lie on the pill box and watch the planes.

If I felt brave I’d venture into the Black Forest but mostly…

I’d lie on my back on a mound near Barmston Pond and just watch and listen to the skylarks. All day, every day. I loved it…

Words…

I went to a pretty poor school when I lived in Washington Tyne and Wear. Washington Comp. A mixture of old buildings, 1960’s constructions and Pre Fabs. I wasn’t that interested in an education if I’m honest. I managed to leave in 1978 with two GCSE’s. Achieved a C in both Maths and English.

Over the next forty odd years I’ve developed an interest in words. I have Chambers Dictionary on my phone. If I come across a word I don’t understand I bookmark it…

I’d love to send an email that included all these bookmarked words!

We all have untapped potential

At 21 I was about 9st 11lbs. Started doing Karate with Sensei Alan Gallagher – in the same class was a guy called Wayne. Literally built like the proverbial brick house…

Me…thinking I was Bruce Lee…

I wanted to understand his ‘secrets’ of his muscle and size…”weights” he said…so onto my mam’s catalogue I went and ordered some York weights….and I trained and trained and trained. Eventually I moved to Bolton from Washington and joined a ‘commercial’ gym….and trained and trained…

You can create your body and your mind. You are your only limit…

Alan showed me – calm – persistence – character…

A year ago today…

I can’t believe it…back in 1988 I moved to Bolton…was looking for a gym to train in. Found a gym called Physiques ran by Charlie Buchanan (Google him) – I loved it. Was my touchstone. It went through various ownerships…and closed down a year today…I miss it terribly. It was no modern gym. Old school. Just the way I like it…friendly, familiar, functional..,

Over 33 years at the same gym…

I miss it terribly

There’s something about seeing that curtain closing…

When I was a child. I had many maternal and paternal uncles and aunts.

Over the years some of them died. The ‘Cooke’s’ which I’d like to concentrate on this blog have a particular interest . My dads family.

My Aunts Marg and Lil used to take more interest in myself and my twin sister more than my parents to be honest. They’d take us all over on Sundays. They were spinsters who lived in the same house they were born in . Cooper Street, Roker, Sunderland.

And there was a brother – Anthony – he never married. And lived in the same house. My uncle Tony.

Marg and Lil looked after him…

I remember playing squash with him at Crowtree Leisure Centre a lifetime ago…

Once I got into my teens (say 15-16) we never really got each other although I used to keep in touch.

When I got married in 2000, Marg, Lil and Tony were guests. I didn’t see much more of them until two things happened. My ‘peer’ cousin Colin died at 40, then his father died a few years later…

Tony died recently…I attended his funeral ‘virtually’ via a webcast – it reinforced to me how short and fickle life is…

Two minutes ago I was having chicken dinner in his house…

Now the curtains are closing on his coffin…

I faked it as a ‘Wedding Photographer’ for 20 years!

Back in about 1992 I worked for Kellogg’s in Manchester. I was ‘into’ photography but not in any professional capacity. A colleague wanted a print of Ashness Bridge I’d taken on a Canon EOS1000FN.

Another colleague saw it on my desk as I was about to ‘deliver it’…

And said “That’s fantastic! Would you photograph my wedding!”

A few gulps later I said yes, but, I haven’t a clue what I’m doing…

So…photographed the wedding and learned very very quickly…

You don’t need to be an artist (although it may help)

You need to understand the emotional hot spots…that’s the key…

So…even though I attended many seminars by the likes of Yervant and Nigel Harper I just did my thing…

I did the very best I could. Was never complacent and only had one complaint in twenty years. A bride said I made her look fat…well, it’s a camera not a wand. And if you’ve lived on pies for twenty years there’s only so much photoshop can do…

And here’s the dichotomy – every wedding is unique…and the same. The emotional hot spots are easy to predict – Bride getting out of car – groom seeing Bride for the first time – the exchanging of rings – the first kiss etc.

And I’ll probably never shoot a wedding ever again…I’m not that interested, I’m old and can do without the hassle…however never say never…

Was never a big reader

At school the only book I was ‘forced’ to read was ‘Kes’ after that never read much at all until…

I met a girl who was an avid reader…first gift she ever gave me…

Now…I’m from Washington, Tyne & Wear and in those days Holden Caulfield was as far removed from me as President Carter. No idea who he was. What he represented. I just didn’t ‘get it’. But I persevered with it…

Then I got into Ian McEwan..,

Here was something I could understand a little bit better. Just the plot and emotion without the Americanisation.

So…here began my reading journey..,

That’s my ‘library’ now. 😳
I read all sorts now.

My daughter has started sending me books…we try to out read each other 😂😂😂

Amongst the books she had sent, she sent me this…it has a certain vernacular and rhythm much like ‘A Clockwork Orange’ – you have to keep at it…

Just watched ‘A Rebel In The Rye’ it was ok…a lot of the stuff I already knew…