Wednesday, 9 May 2012

'I should have gone barmy, if I’d been a more sophisticated or fragile human being. I wasn’t. I came from Finsbury Park.'

In 1958  Don McCullin took a photograph called 'Cafe, Hornsey Road'.

I can't post it for copyright reasons, but you can see it here. In it a young man with black hair that's almost but not quite in a quiff is biting down on a cigarette and looking sideways and sort of down at you. He's at ease, maybe even prepared to be charming, but he also looks like he'd laugh as he hit you.

The cafe behind him is blurred out by soft focus and by cigarette smoke. It takes a while to see that there's another man sitting beside the protagonist - a friend or a hanger on or both.

This, I suppose, is what gangs look like when you're on the edges of them.

The title quote is from a Financial Times interview, where McCullin says growing up round here prepared him for working in a warzone. 

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