Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

November 2007


PhotographyWednesday, November 7th, 2007, (9:00 pm)

Last year I discovered that I lived a few minutes away from a quite spectacular local nature reserve. Back then I posted some pictures of what I called ‘the undiscovered country‘, and as the season changes color heading into what will soon become winter, I thought I’d post some more pictures from a now very autumnal Brotherton Park & Dibbinsdale Local Nature Reserve.

Autumn colors

The above photograph was taken while I was at ‘the Dibby’, as it is locally known, with my friend Joelle. The colors were beginning to change, some trees were already nearly bare, while others were still very much green. In the background of the scene you’ll see a tree that is leaning heavily to the left. I find it amazing that trees can do that. Presumably it was nearly blown over in a storm, yet despite its angle it continues to flourish.

Autumn colors

In just a couple of weeks the colors have completely changed and the low evening sun transforms the woods into a forest of gold and bronze treasure.

Dibbinsdale Nature Reserve at Brotherton Park on the Wirral Peninsula

Autumn colors

I walked along this path and allowed the kid inside me to kick up the leaves. A little further down I stopped and chatted to a man who was walking his dog while he smoked a pipe that filled the misty cooling air with a burnt sweet aroma.

Dibbinsdale Nature Reserve at Brotherton Park on the Wirral Peninsula

Dibbinsdale Nature Reserve at Brotherton Park on the Wirral Peninsula

Dibbinsdale Nature Reserve at Brotherton Park on the Wirral Peninsula

Dibbinsdale Nature Reserve at Brotherton Park on the Wirral Peninsula

I stood for a while by the brook photographed above and soaked up the scene while watching my breath float away and disappear into the evening air. On my iPod Amos Lee was singing about how colors seem to fade. It was a fitting track for one of those ‘soundtrack moments’, you know where the music seems to match the scene perfectly. This time it felt like an ending, like the final moments before the fade-to-black. I guess in many ways it was.

Brotherton Park & Dibbinsdale Local Nature Reserve
The Undiscovered Country

General and MusicWednesday, November 7th, 2007, (7:25 pm)

The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince has decided to sue fans who post pictures of him or re-print any of his lyrics on their websites. With that in mind I’ve decided to post a montage of Prince pictures and re-print some of his lyrics.

Prince has written a handful of decent (and some fairly indecent) songs but lets face it, these days he’s a dick!

His purple reign has long since come to an end and he hasn’t really been musically or culturally relevant since the early nineties when he took the bizarre decision of changing his name to a symbol. Since then his star has faded and presumably as a method of coping with the fact he’s a has-been, and maybe even making a few bucks in the process, he now spends time “protecting his image” online by suing the big video sharing sites.

But now it seems the popped star is turning his legal attentions onto his fans, threatening to sue them for posting images of him and his album covers as well as the lyrics of any of his songs.

Part of me wants to believe that Prince has merely created this news story in order to put himself back into the glow of the media spotlight so he can jiggle whatever he has left to wiggle before we all grow tired of him again. But in five minutes, when we’ve all moved on, the only thing anyone will really remember is that the aging pop singer remains musically and culturally irrelevant and, to be blunt, is still a dick.

So, with no further ado, clear your throats and sing an old Prince song from those heady old days when he was still capable of writing good material.

Sign O’ The Times

Oh yeah
In France a skinny man
Died of a big disease with a little name
By chance his girlfriend came across a needle
And soon she did the same
At home there are seventeen-year-old boys
And their idea of fun
Is being in a gang called The Disciples
High on crack, totin’ a machine gun

Time, time

Hurricane Annie ripped the ceiling of a church
And killed everyone inside
U turn on the telly and every other story
Is tellin’ U somebody died
Sister killed her baby cuz she could afford 2 feed it
And we’re sending people 2 the moon
In September my cousin tried reefer 4 the very first time
Now he’s doing horse, it’s June

Times, times

It’s silly, no?
When a rocket ship explodes
And everybody still wants 2 fly
Some say a man ain’t happy
Unless a man truly dies
Oh why
Time, time

Baby make a speech, Star Wars fly
Neighbors just shine it on
But if a night falls and a bomb falls
Will anybody see the dawn
Time, times

It’s silly, no?
When a rocket blows
And everybody still wants 2 fly
Some say a man ain’t happy, truly
Until a man truly dies
Oh why, oh why, Sign O the Times

Time, time

Sign O the Times mess with your mind
Hurry before it’s 2 late
Let’s fall in love, get married, have a baby
We’ll call him Nate… if it’s a boy

Time, time

Time, time

Prince sites face legal threats
Prince Threatens To Sue Own Fans Over Fansites
Prince Fans United

GeneralTuesday, November 6th, 2007, (4:41 pm)

So Daylight Saving Time, what the heck! You American folk out there just changed a week after all of us here in the UK, so now that it’s dark before 6 o’clock in the evening I have to ask the question: Why the heck do they call it Daylight Saving Time? From where I am it seems like all that happened was I lost an hour of daylight that was diminishing quickly enough all by itself thank you very much.

Okay, I know that people who get up early in the morning will now have a little more light, but come on, how come the early birds get this treatment? What makes them so special?

I don’t get it; we’ve added an hour of daylight to the morning rush hour, but it’s not like that hasn’t been countered by the fact we’ve lost an hour of daylight in the evening rush hour. I just don’t see where the saving was. Who benefitted from this? It should be called daylight robbery if you ask me.

What was wrong with 6 o’clock when it was 5 o’clock, or was that the other way around? I’m so confused! Why do we do this, this is cruel and unusual punishment. My cell phone asked me if I wanted to accept the Daylight Saving Time change, but really, what choice did I have! No Mr Cell Phone, I don’t want to, so what are you going to do about then, huh?

I realize that the actual term ‘Daylight Saving Time’ is an American one that refers to change that is done earlier in the year, but such is the way that Americanisms have bled into global electronically communicated use, the term is now used across the English speaking world. My Mac, my cell phone, my TiVo, my web server, they all refer to Daylight Saving Time at both ends of the year.

I just don’t understand why we have to have to change time in the first place. Someone told me it had something to do with farmers. Farmers! What the heck? What do farmers do in the morning that is so important that they couldn’t just adjust their day slightly. How many farmers are their anyway!?

Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, apart from the Arizona Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona, which for some reason does. Indiana sits in two of the United States nine time zones and, until last year, had a patchwork or counties that did and didn’t observe Daylight Saving Time in their respective time zone. I can only imagine how confusing that must have been for people who left the comfort of their homes. But I suppose it wouldn’t be as confusing as the time difference between us and Ethiopia. I have no idea if that African country observe Daylight Saving Time, but they’ve only recently celebrated the millennium. It’s currently the year 2000 in Ethiopia, so an hour here or there is insignificant when you’re having to change your calendar by seven years!

Back here though Daylight Saving Time is inherently unfair, so here’s my proposal. We’ll alternate the direction of the one hour change every year so morning people and evening people are represented once in a two year time period. It’ll work like this; one year the early rises get their extra hour of day light, then the next year people who prefer the light evenings get the hour added to their favorite time of the day. That way everybody is treated fairly. Come on, this could work! We’ll call it Daylight Fairness Time, reflecting the fact that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.

End daylight saving time
Ethiopia celebrates the millennium
President Bush meddles with the time

General and MoviesSaturday, November 3rd, 2007, (11:33 pm)

Ten years ago a friend of mine decided to take his own life. He apparently researched the local tides and the moon cycle in an effort to pick the most ferocious of outbound tides on the darkest of nights. He told no one of his plan, and never once reached out to his friends in a way any of us recognized. On a cold and dark October night he walked into the biting cold waters of the retreating River Mersey whereupon he was quickly swept out to sea. His body was recovered four days later.

I always wondered what he must have been going through as he made his way to the darkened beach that night. Clearly he was in a state of despair, but I could see nothing so terrible in his life that it couldn’t be overcome. I remember in the days that followed his death I wondered how I could have missed the fact that he was so depressed as to be suicidal. I was disappointed that he planned his suicide in secret and by doing so had denied any of us the opportunity to intervene, to be his friend when he surely needed us most.

I hadn’t really though of my old friend in a long while until last weekend when I watched a film called ‘The Bridge‘, a documentary about the large number of suicides that occur each year at the Golden Gate Bridge. By pure coincidence, and unknown to me at the time, the night I watched the documentary happened to be the ten year anniversary of his suicide.

Had I known more about the documentary beforehand I probably wouldn’t have chosen to watch it. The rather morbid subject is not one I have any interest or curiosity in. However, I found it to be profoundly compelling in the way that it unravelled this subject that is something of a taboo.

Eric Steel, a documentary filmmaker, made the film after reading Tad Friend’s 2003 New Yorker article entitled ‘Jumpers; The fatal grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge.’

The Golden Gate Bridge is a notorious site for suicide, some say the most popular suicide location in the world. The 220 feet fall takes between 4 to 7 seconds and leads to an almost certain death as the jumper hit the water at 75-mph. Of the estimated 1,400 people who have jumped or fallen from the bridge since it was opened in 1937, only 26 have survived.

Seeking to highlight the darker side of this awesome bridge, which on average claims the life of one jumper almost every two weeks, Steel and his film crew trained cameras on the bridge filming people day and night throughout 2004. Of the 24 suicides that were made that year 23 were caught on camera by Steel and his crew with some of those being controversially shown in the documentary.

While the the idea of showing the tragic last act of those who jumped from the bridge is undeniably difficult to stomach, the film handles the subject in a way that seems to connect us with the reality of suicide which might otherwise simply pass us by as just another news story, if indeed an editor even deemed the event to be newsworthy. The sense of isolation is almost tangible, not just in those who jump but also in the fact that the unfolding tragedy often goes unnoticed by people who are just a few feet away.

Suicide is very much a crisis based decision, usually made at a time when it’s not unfair to say that, on the whole, the person involved lacks the ability to clearly see their situation in a wider context.

Kevin Hines, who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and survived, said in an interview that he had made a condition that would determine his fate that day. “If one person comes up to me and asks if I am okay, if I need any help, I would tell them everything and I would ask for help,” he said. At the bridge, after crying for the entire journey there, Hines was tapped on the shoulder by a woman. Failing to notice his distress she asked Hines to take her picture. He did so, then as she walked away he turned and leapt over the barrier.

The sense of isolation and loneliness would seem to be a common denominator in those who choose to take their own lives. At the home of one man who had jumped to his death a note was found on his bureau. It read ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’ Presumably nobody made that connection.

Though it’s clearly difficult to gauge, people who have survived suicide attempts claim to have regretted their decision to commit suicide the moment they passed the point of no return. Speaking of his jump from the Golden Gate Bridge amid a serious bout of depression in 1985, survivor Ken Baldwin said. “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable – except for having just jumped.”

Learning this leads me to wonder if my friend had similar regrets ten years ago as he gasped his last breaths in the cold and unforgiving darkness of the Irish Sea. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, though clearly he didn’t see it that way. Had he been able to get through the crisis he found himself in he might very well be alive today. He could have married, become a father, and essentially lived an ordinary life in which his depression was merely a chapter.

It seems like the cruelest blow of all that right at the moment when they cannot undo what they’ve done, the perspective which seems to be absent from the lives of the ‘jumpers’ comes rushing back in a fleeting moment of clarity that is soon over, forever.

[Video] Clip from The Bridge : Jumper pulled to safety
[Video] Interview with director Eric Steel (Part 1) & (Part 2)
[Video] News report on proposed suicide barrier
[Audio] A jumper who survived tells his story
The Bridge – Movie website
IMDB : The Bridge
Wiki : The Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Statistical graphic of jumper hotspots
The Bridge of Death
The New Yorker : Jumpers
San Francisco Chronicle : Lethal Beauty
Survivor battles Golden Gate’s suicide lure
A suicide survived by John Kevin Hines
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA)
Samaritans (UK)

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