Thursday, 4 March 2010

Red rules

On this week's journey into London the dice decided on chance tactic number two - my day was to be under the influence of the colour red.  Anyone who knows me, knows that my favourite colour is red - the colour of passion, danger, anger; red - love it or hate it, impossible to ignore, anyone wearing red incites attention.  I decided to let red take me by the hand and lead me wherever it would take me.....

The Rules
- Follow someone wearing an item of red clothing
- Photograph them when you can
- Follow them until they enter a building or you lose them
- Photograph other red subjects on the way
- Repeat the process

I had expected that it would take some time to find someone suitable to follow, but on emerging onto the street, my eyes were assaulted by a deluge of red - red coats, hats, bags, scarves, ties, shoes.  The difficulty was in choosing which red subject.... I lost several while waiting for the lights to change when crossing the road but eventually plumped for a lady in a bright red coat escorted by her elderly companion.  They promptly got on a Number 13 bus headed for Aldwych......

I thought perhaps my couple were heading for the end of the route, but they got off at Trafalgar Square and went into Charing X station.  Once inside, I observed them go through the barrier and board the Dartford train - the same train I used to catch day in, day out, when I lived in London 30 years ago.  Chance seems determined to drag me back to my old haunts - but they say 'never go back'.  I toyed with the notion of following them further, but my ticket wasn't valid on this line, and besides, I didn't know which station they were getting off at.  I regretfully turned away.

Strangely, I felt little curiosity about them - I didn't know where they were coming from or where they were going to.  Our paths crossed briefly for approximately 30 minutes of our lives and we are unlikely ever to come into contact again.  Yet here they are existing in another dimension on my blog.  French philosopher and cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard maintained that 'to shadow another is to give him a double life, a parallel existence'.  I hope they would not mind too much to discover their alter egos on these pages!

To be continued......

In the meantime, here is a souvenir from London.......


  1. Haha- red rules!- what a funny idea to stroll through the city life! And I very like the reds on your snapshots - red is one of favourite colours, too, but red is not = red, what a broad range of nuances and associations! I miss only your red boots or the red telephone boxes, the red buses!
    Last week we read an interesting essay in Dutch about "De stad is een levend kunstwerk"/The city is a living art-work (a kind of book review, e.g. Charles Landry, The Art of City Making, London 2006) - every city has its own flair, pschycolgy, and personality- "New York is geel (yellow), London rood (red), Parijs blauw (blue) en Berlijn groen (green)".

  2. The intense red of that lady's coat doesn't leave my mind and follows me up! The close-up of their both backs is really great, saying all, and also a moving pic as the other ones of this pair! It might not have been 'easy' to have followed this older couple because - supposedly- there might have been some inner obstacles to follow and to photograph them- but you did this in such a noble and sensitive way- and I very like also your last contemplation about your work. Although I can see only their backs, their clothing , and some of their gestures, I may imagine their faces- and a bit of their life- they got old together, a wonderful togetherness in good and in sad times- and she may be/have been an elegant lady, full of joy of life, perhaps still a beauty? This couple reminds me of an old Austrian couple I became acquainted in Italy with as I was in the twenties. She was a still charming, some sick lady, and he was such a caring person, solicitous about her life, carrying the bag..., later on I experienced that he had hidden her during the NS-regime as she was persecuted as jew. - We don't know anything about your couple, but I know that they may have gone "through thick and thin" and form a wonderful pair- the red is so positive shining!

  3. Thanks for the link Philine - a fascinating idea. I'm sure that the main impression people get when visiting London is that there is a lot of red, from the buses, phone boxes and post boxes, but there is also a lot of green - many parks and trees too.

    Your words about your elderly couple are very moving. Yes, it is true that you grow old together through thick and thin and I was very struck with my couple at how they supported each other while walking, he often slightly behind her as if to mind her back. They were obviously a refined couple and she held herself very upright and with dignity. I did try very hard not to be obvious or intrusive and I'm sure they were not aware of me.