After dark as the working day winds down, a homeless man sits on the pavement outside the station with his sketchbook open to a detailed drawing of BMAG in Victoria Square. On New Street a team of construction workers, balanced on rooftops, assemble the wooden huts of the Frankfurt German Market. Opening earlier each of the fifteen years I have lived in Birmingham, this year’s start date is so early the trees above the huts are still in full leaf and decked with poppies for Remembrance Day.
In Tesco, a young woman of no more than twenty stands in the doorway rolling a cigarette from a newly purchased packet of tobacco, the envelope hanging open to display its unheeded warning: ‘Smoking kills. Quit now’. Office workers form a long queue which snakes through the shop. Hunched over phones, they tap, swipe and slowly shuffle baskets forward as a single organism, lost in their own individual worlds.
On my way down the hill to the vegetable market while England play South Africa in the final of the Rugby World Cup, roads are turned to rivers and the streets are quiet. Crossing the flooded astroturf in Chinatown, I spot a group of England fans gathered together for a half time smoke outside a budget hotel. A lucky cat waves from the window of a closed café and a row of roasted ducks hangs limply behind steamed up glass in a Cantonese restaurant on the lower floor of the Mapstone building.
I keep a notebook for the stories and scenes I encounter in my everyday life as well as for illustration ideas. It’s a commonplace book, of sorts, and somewhere I note down songs I hear, ideas that I have for new projects, and an assortment of other bits and bobs that I want to remember or use as inspiration in my photography, films or other creative projects.
I love spring and summer best. Daylight from 5am to 9pm, everything is green, all the doors and windows are open, and even on an overcast day the world somehow feels full of life. Every autumn, without fail, the melancholy settles in around mid October. It’s not as bad as it used to be as I make sure I get out for a walk every day and have introduced hobbies that don’t require light in the same way photography does, but I struggle with the gloominess and lack of light, and I just don’t like the colour palette of late autumn as green, red and yellow fade to bare branches and slush. There are some things I like about autumn though, so here’s a little collection of them.
Ed made me a birthday cake following this recipe for a vegan coffee and walnut cake. I first trialled this recipe back in the spring, and it has taken the place of my old favourite sponge cake recipe. The Rose Elliot recipe is pretty good (it was our go-to birthday cake recipe for nearly fourteen years), but the Veganuary one is fluffier and tastes more like a traditional victoria sponge. I made a few adjustments to it though. Instead of 1tsp xantham gum, I use 2tbsps soya flour, and instead of 200ml instant coffee I use 50ml strong filter coffee and 150ml soya milk.