Saturday, 8 May 2010

Bring (Come) Me The Head Of A Millionaire

Two smells I miss getting a fix of: fix and glue. First, fix, the chemical used to preserve a photographic image. When you develop a black and white photograph – in the old-fashioned way, in the darkroom - the print goes through three trays of chemicals: developer, stop bath and fix, and fix smells like Brie. No: fix smells of sperm.
Long before eBay I bought a photographic enlarger from a millionaire’s widow in Chalk Farm - saw it advertised in 'Amateur Photographer' magazine. When I first set eyes on the enlarger it was wearing a black bin-liner on its head, as if in mourning for its millionaire master. The widow told me this was not the case, that the enlarger had been bagged in the cellar for ages (like a hostage); her late husband hadn’t used it for thirty years or more. I paid her and struggled across home across the river with it. We made for an odd couple on the underground. I very much doubt whether you could travel – on public transport – with such a sinister object nowadays, what with hoodies, the impending burka ban in Belgium and all. And if we had have been stopped-and-searched I would have had some explaining to do. Under the bag, inside the enlarger’s head was another kind of head: a dead head. I was rocking around on the Northern Line with a deathly exploding penis on my lap.
When I got home I discovered, in the negative carrier of the enlarger, what I could only presume is the moment a millionaire ejaculated (sometime in the mid 1960s - about the time I was conceived). This explosive image only appears on one of a strip of six negatives. The other five negatives depict his wife - the widow I’d just met - thirty or so years younger, riding a camel in the desert. By the look of things (he’s kept his socks on) it must be a self-portrait (headless, but not strictly speaking, a headless self-portrait). Much of photography is about control, yet here’s an image that demonstrates pictorial control over a loss of control; what Cartier-Bresson would have called, ‘The decisive moment’.
And I’ve heard you can have such a thing as a blinding orgasm: this image could have been taken, but not seen. And it’s only right and fitting that the exploding penis was found in an enlarger; a machine with a head at the top of a column; a device that spits-out light.
Oh, and how do I know it’s a millionaire’s dick? I’ve since done some research. He was quite well known in fact. But that’s for another day, another blog. And I didn’t send his widow a print. Perhaps I should send her this drawing instead - it’s the nearest thing to it, and a sticky end too: I used to sit on top of this dick-like rock and get a fix of glue. 

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