Before I got distracted by the previous observations I intended to write about an intriguing programme I saw last night on BBC Four. A very engaging Don McCullin “pootling “ around the nation in an affectionate documentary called “Looking for England”
McCullins's black and white photos provided striking material for the TV screen, never mind the photogenic and sprightly octogenarian himself, whose enthusiasm and energy haven’t waned.
Jasper Rees in the Telegraph:
“In this cheerful assignment-cum-profile (directed by Adrian Sibley), he pootled around the nation, looking for Englishness in a country in the constant act of self-definition.”
The famous McCullin images are iconic, and it was gratifying to the photographer and, I think, to the viewer, to witness a stranger coming up to say hello and then identifying himself as one of the young men featured in a photograph taken by McCullin, captured decades ago when enjoying a game of football on the beach with his workmates; or another who knew the (now deceased) character who was famously portrayed in a much-admired image of a young couple standing on a railway track amidst some desolate 60s landscape. These two encounters seemed genuinely spontaneous. Doesn't really matter though.
Very touching, nostalgic and engaging it all was, revisiting locations he’d known before. Interestingly he still sticks to the old-fashioned craft of photography, using proper rolls of film and manually developing and printing in the darkroom, himself.
No more Jewish bakery in Dalston. Hardly any Jews remaining in areas now populated by Muslims; those fox hunters - and then the hooded, black-clad protesters. McCullin seemed remarkably non-judgemental about it all.
Jasper Rees continues:
“He found a capacious place with room for one and all: pensioners in the rain at Eastbourne, down and outs in the East End, men in Bradford beating their bare chests at a Muslim festival.”
All the press reviews I’ve read seem remarkably unconcerned about this hideous ritual, which our politically correct journalists either ignored altogether or, as in this review, casually slipped in at the end of the list of photogenic situations and scenarios in which there’s “room for one and all”.
The Bradford street celebration that McCullin took snaps of in a seemingly detached manner involved a mob of self-flagellating Muslim men commemorating a festival called Ashura. Hundreds of them. They processed down the street, bare-chested, in a trance-like frenzy of self-harm; some of their backs were raggedly scarred. Witnessing that could drive arrows through the heart. Metaphorical arrows.
“This will become the norm in future in my opinion,” said McCullin. I wasn’t sure if he was genuinely dispassionate about such a bleak future, or whether his apparent indifference disguised weary resignation or deep sorrow. You couldn’t tell.
This is not okay. Surely to goodness, there’s no room for this ugly manifestation of Islamification in Britain’s towns and cities. Why are people so complacent about it? If they really are, then God help us.