Ten Miles 1976-1986
One of the first photographs I ever took was made with a 110 camera, a narrow plastic box with a tiny fixed lens, and I would make one roll of film last over a year. The only image I now remember from that camera is a portrait I took of my family in our garden. It must have been sometime in the late 70s. My parents are sitting on a curved stone bench, my mother’s pink shrub roses in puffy pale bloom behind them, my youngest brother is sitting on my mother’s lap, and my other brother (the middle one) is crouching on the lawn a little closer to me. It was sunny, and everyone is smiling except for Rupert (the middle one). I lost the print in 1990, in India during my year-out travelling, and who knows where the teeny-tiny negative got to.
I mention it because the walk which made this project began a few yards from that garden. For ten years, between 1976 and 1986, I took a blue and white striped double-decker bus to school from Rowledge in Surrey to Alton, in Hampshire. The bus was unmistakable, and Mr Vane-Hunt, the bus driver, was a big, white-haired fellow who inspired respect from all of his young passengers by being generally inscrutable. I sat in the same seat every year, a window seat on the bottom deck, three rows from the front, on the left. There was a sign behind Mr Vane-Hunt, which said, confusingly, ‘Do Not Distract The Driver. Do Not Stand Forward of This Notice’. Confusingly, because I didn’t understand the phrase ‘stand forward of’. I was a precociously well-read child, and I had a reasonably sophisticated vocabulary, so I worked out that it must be an archaic phrase meaning ‘Do Not Disobey This Notice’. This idle confusion over the internal tautology of the notices stayed with me for years.
I walked from my bus-stop in Chapel Road, within view of the house I grew up in, through semi-rural villagescape to the train station in Farnham, following the bus-route, noting changes and sameness along the way. The bus journey continued all the way to Alton of course, but I stopped at the station because the further section is mostly dual-carriageway now. Every location and picture has some kind of memory attached to it.