Ghost Town

For years I have wanted to take photos of my hometown. The places I knew so well, the street where I lived, the views from my windows. The library I used as a child and not enough as an adult.

But these places have changed while I took too long to finally photograph them, so that everything is different from what I once saw. The chestnut tree, once standing outside my bedroom window was cut down long ago, just a few months after I had left. One of a whole row of trees that used to line our street.

New neighbours have moved in on either side of the house. Families with children and names I’ve never heard, unfamiliar sounds that don’t quite add up

When I leave the house, a part of me is equally curious, equally dreading to see if I will meet someone I once knew and of having to talk to them, to be caught out with how different I am, my new strange accent catching me out. Those high English A’s and the way I take too long to find the right words.

I don’t know if I feel like one of them anymore, if I belong here, or some other place across the North Sea. Yet when I come back and come home, at least to this house, that’s what it feels like. It’s like shedding a thick, heavy coat that has restricted my movements all these months through winter. The ease with which I can move around.

All these years, the bus times have never changed.

But then I finally try to take the photos that have been in my mind for so long, trying to capture the things I remember in these new images that don’t quite look the same. And when I come back to England with my two exposed rolls, when I develop them in my bathroom and hang them up to dry, what I see is all these images looking like ghosts.

These things and places, part of a different life I have wanted to record for so long, they have escaped me. As if even in my photographs of them, I am not able to hold on, they are nothing more than apparitions now, images not quite there.

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This piece was inspired by the photographs and my attempts to try and photograph my hometown.
The photographs were an experiment with a film type, which was new to me and not only do I not like the look of the film but something also went wrong when they got developed.
I wanted to show them anyway, these happy accidents I’m slowly coming to like and when I was looking at them again just now while going through some recent drafts, I suddenly saw how fitting that ghostly appearance is to the subject, as I seem destined to keep failing to photograph this place.

And so this piece of writing came out of them instead.

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