Unused Substitute

It’s another short post from me today, and all because some photos are too good not to share on their own. With that kind of introduction, you might be expecting a picturesque Mediterranean sunset or a rolling African savanna, but alas, no. It’s a card, and a somewhat poorly aged one at that. It was sent by my cousins Adrian, Matthew and Dominic just after I was born, and I’ve seen and laughed at it a number of times since. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will already have seen it, but what the hell – if anything should be preserved for posterity on Third Time Enabled, it’s surely this.

25 years on, I still haven’t made the team, but I’m on the bench if they need me!

Mason

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Don’t Expect Photographic Masterpieces

The title of this post borrows the last four words of my Instagram bio. In a world awash with filtered and immaculately polished social media updates, they take a certain amount of pressure off my shoulders, because they justify a profile full of photos that look like they’ve been taken with a potato. Besides, the sole purpose of my Instagram is to document life as it is, right? That means no technological trickery whatsoever.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to present you with a few images from my last weekend’s trip to Winchester, which you might have already seen if you follow me on Instagram. If you don’t, they offer the kind of glimpse at my travels that only I can offer – namely one completely devoid of skill or meaningful context. I’ll try my best to come up with some witty captions, but as with the pictures themselves, I can’t make any promises. Here goes!

Mason

These sculptures marked the start of a hare-raising weekend. I took the photos having just got off a sweaty train bursting for the loo, so I’m surprised they’re as clear as they are!
After I got home, I discovered there’s a Doctor Who-themed hare somewhere in Southampton. Needless to say, I was very disappointed they hadn’t moved it a few miles to Winchester instead.
There is, however, a gold-painted hare outside the coffee shop I go to, known as the “24 Carrot Hare”. That was probably my favourite for the name alone!
Having marvelled at the hares, I went straight to said coffee shop (the lovely Open House Deli) looking slightly hot and bothered. The girl behind the counter took one look at me and asked if I wanted a glass of iced water with my flat white. Let me tell you, it was heaven.
It feels like I’ve taken countless photos of Winchester Cathedral over the last few years, but I can’t help it – it’s always enchanting, even more so during an August heatwave. I just need to be able to capture it without cutting off the top.
I was pleasantly surprised to be able to get a table outside Ask Italian on Friday night. Is there a prettier high street in the country to eat in? I highly doubt it.
Believe it or not, I was trying to capture the charm of Winchester’s architecture here, not scaffolding or bemused elderly drinkers.
I don’t drink, so this is only orange juice, but it led me to some fascinating conversations, which I’m sure you’ll hear about soon. The glass made me feel pretty sophisticated too…
Once I’d checked out of the hotel on Sunday morning, my wheelchair needed some extra juice to get me to the station (as much as I love it, Winchester isn’t the flattest city in the world). The Open House Deli kindly lent me one of their plug sockets, which just so happened to be directly under a skylight. I slowly sizzled for an hour and a half, so I was thankful that iced water came to my rescue once again!

Everything And Nothing At All

I never knew my head could be so busy and so empty at the same time. Since I left my job at the end of January it’s seemed like I have so much to think of – what I’ll do and where I’ll go next – but at the same time, like my life is one very much without purpose. There is no job, social life or friendship group to consider, I have no immediate prospects, and there’s little hope of me moving anywhere anytime soon. What that means is that it can be very hard to find any kind of motivation, which doesn’t bode well at all for general creativity or this blog. The fact I’m writing this off the back of an unsuccessful interview hasn’t helped matters either!

Happily, social media – that thing I was so keen to take a break from just weeks ago – has provided me with something of a solution. I’ve had Instagram for about three years now, having finally caved after years of pressure from my brother and friends, but I can’t say that I use it for promoting any kind of serious photography. I even went as far as putting a disclaimer in my bio (“don’t expect photographic masterpieces!”). The account is for documenting the world as I see it, but that doesn’t mean that the photos are useless or disposable (even though there are an awful lot of book covers among them, just to show off what I’ve been reading). Every picture tells a story, after all, so going forward, each one will have the potential to be inspiring, however blurry or unremarkable it might seem. If you recall, November/December 2018 saw me use a photo of a parked bicycle to record a podcast – and while I might be happy for that to remain buried and far away from human ears for the rest of time, I’ll hopefully be able to get enough material for a blog post or two out of what I capture from now on. It’s still entirely possible that nothing could come of this, and I never mention it again. If recent months have taught me anything, though, it’s that all I can do is try to stay positive, however hard that might be at times.

Mason

In The Words Of The T-Shirt…

“…Just Do It.”

That’s what my old GCSE English teacher used to say, usually when we had to write an essay. Given that she had to mark so many of them, she never had much time for people who went “round the houses” – in other words, those of us who took ages to get past the introduction to the crux of the matter. All she wanted was for us to make and explain our point, and to do it promptly. To get the thing tied up and finished. It could still take me a while to hit the nail on the head, and I can remember writing many a long-winded paragraph, but I got there in the end – and that small quote is advice I’d do well to remember today.

As you’ll know by now, I’ve long wanted to be the most versatile writer possible, but I’m invariably held back by the belief that I’ll never write anything worth reading or watching, or that I’m too rusty to take on a specific project (such as scriptwriting, which – Jed Mercurio video lessons aside – I haven’t done since I left Winchester in the summer). I lack a certain amount of confidence, but I also know that I won’t regain it unless I press ahead and write regardless, so sometimes it seems like a somewhat impossible situation. There is, however, a light at the end of this particular tunnel.

My friend Abi works as a photographer down in Cornwall (sometimes she doubts her own ability too, but she really doesn’t need to – as you’ll find out for yourself if you contact her via social media). Her mind is endlessly inventive, and I admire how she always tries to push herself and her business further in colourful and distinctive ways in order to stand out from the crowd. This includes utilising film and the written word as well as imagery, and for her latest endeavour she’s decided to create a video featuring herself and her camera immersed in her beloved Cornish countryside, while she explains her motivations for doing what she does via voiceover. This element of the video needs to be personal, profound and sincere, it needs to delve deep into the effect her environment has on her wellbeing and creativity – and writing such a thing is no mean feat. I should know, because it’s a task she’s entrusted to me.

I’m in two minds about whether or not I should accept it, largely because the lines are meant to convey her own perspective – so surely they should come from her? Nevertheless, I think I will, firstly because I want to help a friend, and secondly because it’s still an opportunity to show someone what I can do, even if it’s not on a massive scale. Abi doesn’t need to use any of what I’ve written once she’s seen it, but it won’t hurt me at all to carry on, even if it is only 500 words, and just do it.

Mason