Friday, 8 March 2013

City Photos & The Spaces In Your Head


I have a secret (okay, not-so-secret now) love of those little places in cities that look... not like cities.  That aren’t easily recognisable as the cities they belong to.  That could belong anywhere, or nowhere, or only in the spaces in your head.  (I have a lot of those.)

It’s the non-recognisable spaces that are my focus here.  These pictures are all of Nottingham, but excepting the ones taken in obvious places--three on the Market Square, one at the top of Maid Marian Way--I don’t think you can tell.  My friends who live in the city couldn’t recognise some of the places and I, who don’t live in the city, completely failed to explain where I was when I took them.  (“It was, uh, well, over there,” pointing vaguely at the pub wall, “and then I went up there and round there and... why are you looking at me like that?”)

What I wanted was a reference board of images, a reminder of all those little places that could be anywhere, for when I’m writing.  It’ll take a while to build it up--I’m only in Nottingham once a month--and the next time I’m there I’ll head off in a different direction, see where my feet take me and explore more of the city I’ve been visiting for over ten years and spent a couple of months living in but know nothing about.

And then not only will I have photos for my ‘project’, I’ll have had some of the exercise I’m lacking in too!  Maybe I should get into the city more often...

Why do I want anonymous city photos anyway?  The world I write is an alternate reality where elves are real and came out of the forests a few hundred years ago and many still live there.  As a result, forests are much broader in that world, far less likely to be chopped down to make way for more and more new houses as senior elves work on planning committees.  And so cities aren’t going to be the same either.  I’ve only mentioned two by name: London and Bristol; London for obvious reasons, but Bristol because apparently the only place where it’s illegal to have sex in proximity to a car is under it. (I also learned about obscure road laws regarding parking on country lanes.  Not something that I needed for my theory test, but then I don’t think they intend to teach you about parking up for impromptu sex...)

Therefore, a glorified reference sheet of just how anonymous cities can look is ideal for me.  And what better than to use than a city I see all the time without really seeing?  These are the ones I've got already, and I’m looking forward to getting out and about to find more of these little (and not-so-little) places...

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