Friday, August 26, 2005

Jarrow (pronounced 'Jarra')

It's a poor, pissed-upon, depressing, embittered kind of a place. I can say that, because I 'belong Jarra'. God help you if you don't and say a word against it. Ellen Wilkinson rightly called it the Town That Was Murdered, and that was seventy odd years ago: the victim's corpse has been a long time decomposing; you couldn't say it's ever been resurrected.

It's ugly and sullen but it's beloved. The people are the toughest and the finest and the funniest and the kindest in the whole wide world. This town gave Christianity one of its greatest scholars ever, a bright lamp in what were once called the Dark Ages. Palmer's shipyard built an astonishing number of ships, for a navy that once ruled the world. And when capitalism destroyed that we marched in protest and that Crusade is still a Socialist icon.

A new Flickr group was set up today for photos of the town. But recording it is easier said than done. As I go about the place with my camera in my pocket, I'm constantly reminded of how unphotogenic much of the town's become: not because of urban decay, but because of the blandness and uniformity of post-industrial structures. And you've to go careful taking pictures of the people.

But that's the great thing with photography, giving new eyes, a new view, a new angle.