I have decided to end my project on Blackhall. It has been a splendid time and I have learned such a lot and met such lovely people. But I need to concentrate on other projects now. What I would like to do is write a piece to accompany the project so that it is all complete. I will still visit Blackhall and its people and still take photographs but I would like to round it all up so that it feels all ready to face the world. I had a dry run for an exhibition which was highly enjoyable but I am now looking forward to the next stage and showing people the work and what was behind it.
To say that I have grown as a person whilst doing the project is an understatement. I have learned such a lot, about people, about Blackhall, about myself. Who would ever have thought that I would have the nerve to walk into such a male orientated preserve as the Navy Club whilst the men took part in their weekly quiz. Colourful language, smoking, drinking, and there I was in the midst of it.
And I have met some wonderful people, like Jean and Stephen Riley, mother and son who own and work in the top fish shop. And of course the lovely Dot, such a vibrant character, always smiling.
To undertake a project like this would not have been possible without them all. How lucky am I to have this heritage right on my doorstep. And its all thanks to my lovely father. God bless him.
My mam and dad used to play bingo a lot. Not at these big places, like Mecca, but at clubs in the nearby villages. Sometimes they won, sometimes they didn’t, but for them it was a night out. A chance to meet up with friends, have a few beers. I was never a big fan, I hate not winning. One the few occasions I tried my hand at it, and that was at Mecca, I always came away disappointed. So I never went back. If I ain’t going to win I’m not going to play. I always found Mecca quite soulless. There was never that friendly atmosphere that you’d get at the small clubs. You didn’t really feel part of the crowd. I didn’t discover that friendliness until I attended a bingo and quiz night at the Navy Club in Blackhall. For me it was a baptism of fire. Not only was I part of the crowd but I had to approach people to make sure they were happy at me taking their photos. There were some familiar faces there which made it a little easier. I worked my way round the room making sure I didn’t miss anyone out. And for someone who hates approaching people it was amazing. Everyone was happy to have their photo taken, and they were all interested in what I was doing. I had a secret weapon of course. It helped massively that I lived in the next village and that my family came from Blackhall. Alot of people I spoke to actually knew my dad or the family and regaled me with tales from the old days. It might sound sentimental but I felt like I was close to my dad that night. I was living and breathing his past. I felt immensely at home and for someone who has never fitted in that’s pretty good. I got some decent shots too although I had not taken into account the fact that the room would be so quiet when the bingo was on. Yes, my flashgun gave out a lovely little sound as it fired up again and I was so aware of it. Everyone was concentrating so hard and I was so worried that I was putting them off. I bid my goodbyes later that evening and even attempted to thank everyone over the mike, although it came out more as a mumble and half the people didn’t hear me. Still I got a round of applause. My confidence is growing!