A good photograph, even a quick snapshot from a holiday can evoke the sensations, sense and emotions of a place and time with perfect clarity. And actually that is what defines good in this case, not depth of field, sharpness and composition, but what it means to the viewer. Music has the same effect and is in some ways even stronger. For whatever reason, if I hear ‘Karma Chameleon’ by Culture Club, I’m instantly transported to the cramped confines of my mums old car on the A6 roundabout in Stockport heading into college on a damp Thursday morning. Always Thursday, always damp, always dreading my maths.
There’s a lot going on in the Middle East at the moment, a place I love, have visited many times and where I am always astounded both from the sheer beauty of the place and the generosity of the people. Damascus, in Syria, is one of my favourite cities, a place that is living breathing history, existing cheek by jowl with modernity, chaos and great ice-cream.
The photo above evokes the following for me – superheated air in my bike helmet as I rode the desert roads in 95 degree heat, the perfume of tarmac, diesel and woodsmoke from the roadside cafes, the glorious, yet sterile beauty of the sand. As goes one of the famous lines in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ – ‘Just another desert loving Englishman’. Anything else? Oh yes, the slight concern at finding myself on the road to Iraq. I also made a big decision on this road, so again, another reason for it being good. For me at least.
The Arab Spring is something quite amazing. But then it is an amazing place full of contradictory, intelligent, passionate people. And, oh, fresh bread, olives, hummous and sweet mint tea eaten at the side of the road….Let me dream awhile.