Friday, March 06, 2009

Spalding and brain death

The trouble with this time of year is that its dull and grey and cold and boring. Also, there are no colours in the world, only muted tones waiting to be reborn into the sublime joy of saturated colour. 

And so it was that last Saturday,  just for once, there was a hint – only a hint – of Spring in the air, and the prospect of better things to come. The temperature was at a level where you could survive without recourse to a bearskin coat and a hot toddy before and after each trip into the outer world. 

I wanted to go out somewhere to walk around, look around, and take some photographs to further enhance my ever expanding library of stock photographs. I also just wanted to go somewhere – anywhere. My wife suggested we go to Spalding. Like “Yes Man” I said yes. We went to Spalding. 

Now, I have to say that on the face of it Spalding is not the first place you think of when you are looking for somewhere to have a good time. Its not exactly Las Vegas – wherever that is. 

I have been to Spalding before. The first time was when we just went for a ride out to somewhere – anywhere – for the sake of it to try and bring a little variety into our poverty stricken hum drum lives when we were living near Boston many years ago. This brings me to a word of warning. Avoid Boston at all costs – unless you live there of course. The town is so boring, run down and depressing - you may end up slitting your wrists just by getting within a couple of miles of the place. The only good thing about Boston is the road out. Oh, there is another good thing – its rather isolated and some distance from anywhere of any interest, so you don't usually find yourself there by accident. 

Anyway, back to Spalding. I don't actually remember anything about our first trip to Spalding – apart from the journey there. That was only of any interest at all as it took us along a road we'd never been down before. That road was very boring. Its still as boring today as it was the first time I went down it some 25 years ago. Boston and its environs are caught in a time warp. Its the sort of area where you half expect people to be still watching black and white TV in 405 lines, where George Formby records are the hottest sellers, where people still wear shell suits and still use tape-cassettes and Instamatic cameras. The roads should all be cobble stones – but they are not. 

Anyway, I remember nothing at all about Spalding on this trip. Probably because there was nothing to actually remember, the sheer blandness of the place driving my psyche  into a netherworld of catatonia where only the undead roam. 

Several years ago, I returned to Spalding again. This time it was to photograph a wedding – for money – as I find it helps to pay the bills.....don't know about you. Now I had visited the bride and groom a week beforehand, partly to suss out any special shots they might have wanted, and partly to check out their sanity in wanting to get married in a place like Spalding. They were quite a jolly couple. They did want a special shot. It turned out that the groom was a kind of chilled out entertainer who sang and played the geeetar. As his beloved bride walked up the aisle, the plan was that he would serenade her as she walked up towards him while he crooned a love song. She for her part would try not to laugh – or cry – or run out screaming. My part was to try and capture the scene with the love-Lorne couple in the same shot, with the bride's face and expression in view. This meant that I had to go up the aisle and position myself near the groom so I had the pair of them in picturesque juxtaposition. Everything seemed to be going fine as I ran off a number of shots to capture the scene. Unfortunately I hadn't bargained for the vicar being a miserable old git who seemed to think that anyone taking photographs in his church were issued from the loins of Satan and bound for eternal torture in Hell where their worm never dieth and lingereth for ever. So I ended up having a row with this unchristian vicar after the wedding and wrote him a frenzied letter later in a fit of seething rage. He had rudely ejected me from the aisle in the course of my duty which I was carrying out for the bride and the groom – because it was their wedding and not the vicar's - and because they were paying me for it. They were paying me – not the vicar. Needless to say, he was Anglican and anyone who knows anything about Anglican clergy will know that they are pompous busy bodies and whited sepulchres.  

So here we are, it is now last Saturday and my beloved and I are wending our way to Spalding under the direction of the sat-nav which my beloved bought me for Christmas. The roads were clear and we got there quickly, only stopping once at an exciting village called Cowbit where I photographed an otherwise uninteresting church except for the fact that it's tower was lop-sided and leaning over. It must have been Lincolnshire's answer to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, though Lincolnshire is nothing like Italy – or Pisa. The locals looked at me quizickly with their smocks blowing in the wind, their pitchforks glinting in the faint sunlight and bits of straw hanging between their teeth. 

Presently, we came to our first port of call. This was the “Springfields” outlet centre. It’s a sort of shopping Mall but outside. It’s like being in a shopping mall with no roof where you can enjoy all the thrills and comforts that the weather can throw at you. There were lots of people there. Every man and his dog. Every dog and his cat. Every cat and his mouse....... Now, I am a bit of a sucker for shopping centres as I love looking around in the hope that I might find something interesting. As globalisation has transformed all shopping centres to be clones of each other, I live in a world of constant disappointment. Springfields was no different, except that it’s a disappointment set in the wilds of Lincolnshire in the middle of nowhere. I can only guess that the reason the place was so crowded was because the whole area is so boring that this clone gives the illusion of something interesting even though it is not. Forcing myself to fain interest as we walked around the clone stores, my main concern was my ever expanding bladder which was starting to become uncomfortable. And so it was that I left my wife in a store which can only be of interest to women of a certain age while I sought out the loos. They were found and I was relieved. They were also well appointed and very pleasant especially if you are suffering from a distended bladder, so well done Springfields.

We traipsed back across the car park after parting with our hard earned cash at the pay station. We took a look up on the canal embankment where there was a landing stage for a heavily advertised water taxi. The water taxi wasn't running. I should have guessed. Maybe next time. We drove into town. 

Town wasn't far - just down the road in fact. I saw nothing of any interest though the canal which cuts through the town broke up the banality creating a sense of picturesqueness in places. Parking near one such place I took a quick photograph which is now up for sale on the “Fotolibra” on-line open access picture library. Buy now while stocks last. 

After being buzzed by a couple of  hoodies - the local intelligentsia - on push bikes, we walked along straining to find anything of interest. Consequently we walked a long way. Eventually we came to an old mansion house type of building which housed a museum and had some nice gardens to walk in. This appealed to me as it was free admission, although I suspect if you did have to pay,  no one would visit. Walking in the gardens, we were struck by the very large topiary hedges. They were not shaped into animals or figures or anything like that, but sort of landscaped so one kind of blended into another. There was also a small Monkey Puzzle tree. Wow and gosh.


After leaving the park, we crossed the bridge over the canal and walked into the shopping precinct where the market traders were packing up their stalls. Perfect timing for one of a tight disposition. After observing the tumble weed blowing across the landscape and the local hoodies showing off the latest chav fashions, we returned to the car and home via Tesco’s where we got the groceries. 

 Tesco's suddenly seemed interesting.

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