It’s time, once more, to immerse yourself in a world of photographic marvel!
Way back last February, if you can remember that far back, I happened to bump into Aberdeen’s petite Korean-town underbelly, and was invited to the Korean New Year celebrations. It was both fun and intense, but I only managed to take one single photo of the occasion. This was it. It was during some traditional game (Korean have traditional games for every possible occasion) involving playing keepy-up with some kind of cloth-like ball. I managed one keepy-up.
Before And After
During my final month of Brazil, in 2007, stuck on the NS-16 for all of October, mostly by myself, and with absolutely nothing to do, I began to shimmy around the edges of sanity and if not peered, at least glimpsed the abyss. For that entire month I didn’t shave, and this picture accurately captures my mental state near the end of the month.
Fortunately, I escaped to freedom. Look at this handsome chap!
It’s back to Nigeria again. After my time offshore in April, I had to spend a couple of weeks in Port Harcourt, to sort out kit on base. This was a woefully slow and inefficient operation, with every possible step encountering delays, not least the various shut-downs where foreigners weren’t allowed out because of political upheaval and perceived danger. Thus my time was spent in the Presidential Hotel, playing tennis and drinking cognac. With my cognac colleague, one afternoon, we ventured out for a spot of tennis. The sky was distinctly gloomy and the air ominous, but we thought we might squeeze a quick game in. We started the warm up and suddenly I noticed a couple of drops of rain: only a couple, but very heavy, wet drops. My colleague didn’t notice anything. The warm up continued and I got hit by a few more drops, then a few more. My colleague still hadn’t been hit, but now the large splashes were quite evident on the court. We discussed whether we should continue, but by now the frequency of drops had increased and we think it best to call it a day. So we began to wander back inside...
...and suddenly we heard a noise. A rushing, a howling, an unholy screaming – and movement. I yelled “run!” and we both ran for cover. But it was too late. A solid grey wall of water slammed into us, and just the one second before finding cover and I was soaked. My colleague was a little behind me and was utterly drenched head-to-toe. Rain was crashing down in blocks, swirling about and noisily rampaging. Tennis was off for the rest of the day. Instead we had a show.
That storm in Nigeria is unquestionably the craziest I’ve ever seen. For the next ten hours, the rain never let up, the the thunder and lightning was incredible. I was sometimes worried my windows might shatter with the noise. For a few hours, the lightning came every couple of seconds, ranging from evil looking dagger sticking straight into the ground, to enormous eruptions of light that illuminated the sky for seconds at a time. Sadly, my camera and ability are not well equipped to capture these things well, so you’ll have to make do with a photo of some rain.
This is the chess board I bought in Kuala Lumpur. Though quite expensive, I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. The perfect chess board should both look beautiful but still be playable – a lot of ornate chess pieces are so fancy that the pieces aren’t easily distinguishable, thus making the playing of the game difficult. But this board is just right.
I was in Equatorial Guinea for a few weeks in June, though most of the time was offshore. However, there were a few days in the capital, Malabo, upon finishing the job. The first of these days was most notable. Myself and my colleague, Mr Calm, were very relieved to be back onshore and, as is always required, got stuck into the beers. This took place in our unnecessarily heavily-guarded guesthouse. We ploughed through a fair number of beer cans before deciding to go off for a walk. It was just a random ambling, roughly in the direction of the centre, and the main road. Equatorial Guinea is, per head of population, the third richest country on earth; however, all of it is owned by the corrupt military dictator while the rest live in squalor and die in middle age. This is what we saw on our walk, pretty much. The city suburbs were just a pile of mud, with dirt tracks for roads, and no facilities. It was a very interesting walk though, and the people we passed seemed very friendly.
However, we only got back half an hour after darkness, little realising the panic our wander had caused. Although Equatorial Guinea isn’t terribly dangerous, the security was paranoid and ramped up, and operations were run by the very pleasant and frightfully efficient Bill, who used to be in charge of security for the President of Afghanistan. He’d found our guesthouse empty, except for about twenty empty cans of beer, and began to panic when we didn’t return after sunset. So in his jeep he’d been careering about the city’s bars to look for us. Fortunately, we didn’t get in trouble for this venture, as he blamed himself for not telling us to inform guesthouse security when and where we were going. Just a few months later a couple of our guys were chucked out the country for doing something similar. Anyway, the photos.
A view of the suburbs.
Me, holding a pear, in a beaten-up old car, with a confused boy.
The Cheesman Wedding
My old friend Edward “Ed” Cheesman (he prefers people to call him “Ed” but I’ll never get used to it) got married in August. The wedding was fabulous, and so good in fact that I completely forgot to take more than ten photos.
The five ushers.
I became quite aggressive with those not on the guestlist.