At the match: Eastbourne United AFC 2-3 Hastings United

(C) Jon Smalldon 2014 - All rights reserved

The FA Cup doesn’t even begin with the Qualifying Rounds.  Nor does it begin with a Preliminary Round.  It began two weeks ago with the Extra Preliminary Round and Eastbourne United AFC won their match then to set up this tie with near-neighbours and East Sussex big boys Hastings United.  Hastings have flashed the cash, relatively speaking, in a bid to escape the Ryman Isthmian Division 1 South but have started pretty poorly whereas Eastbourne sit atop the Sussex First Division unbeaten.  It was set up nicely and a crowd of 258 showed up to watch what turned out to be a pretty decent cup tie.

The home side were 2-0 up inside the first 25 minutes.  They had soaked up a fair bit of pressure already so it wasn’t exactly a surprise that Hastings found a way back – scoring twice to level the match before the break and fluffing a couple of decent chances to go ahead themselves.  That theme continued in the second half as the claret and blue guests created several opportunities and missed more open nets than seemed reasonable.  Thankfully they did get a go-ahead goal from a scramble and then held out in the face of some thoughtful Eastbourne attacks.  What made this entertaining was that here were two non league sides going toe to toe and yet at no point did anyone just hit and hope.  A draw might have been the neutrals’ wish but a win for Hastings was ultimately fair.

I was back at The Oval with my younger.  He was properly annoyed that ‘his’ team lost – and even more annoyed that Five Live wanted to talk about ‘stupid Chelsea’ rather than this game.  I also had a camera with me and took some photos.  They are here.

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Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album (Book)

The four hundred or so photographs that form ‘The Lost Album’ were exhibited by Hopper in Texas in 1970 after which they were packed away and forgotten – only being discovered after the actor, director, artist had died.  The exhibition at the RA is apparently wonderful but I can’t make it so I have contented myself with the catalogue.  And a brilliant document it is too.

Hopper took these photos between 1961 and 1967.  There are many of actors, directors and their hangers-on, but there are also many of waifs, strays, hippies, civil rights activists and people who just look interesting.  Ed Ruscha is here and there are also photos of gas stations of the kind Ruscha could have taken.  The style is hardcore grainy black and white – even static people can find themselves in a blur.  It’s almost like Robert Frank came back to do a sequel to The Americans in a slightly less formal style.

In some ways there’s too much here.  You’re overwhelmed the first time you look through – perhaps picking out faces you recognise, or nods to stylistic traits that Hopper brought to his later cultural career.  You need to go back, zone in on an image or two, and develop your reaction a little more.  Multiple viewings are required.

The book is cleverly put together.  The photos have not been smartened.  They are copies of those prints that had been packed away, frayed edges and all.  It’s like listening to Spotify when they haven’t taken the magical LP hiss away.

Hopper stopped taking photographs in 1967 having pointed his camera remorselessly in the years before then.  It’s almost annoying that his images are so good given how much he achieved in every other artistic field.  But envy is an ugly emotion and these are fantastic images fully deserving of their triumphant rediscovery.

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The world of the rules

(C) Jon Smalldon 2014 - All rights reserved

This photo is of the beach in Boulogne-sur-mer.  Using the international language of bizarre pictograms it appears to be warning anyone who might be thinking of doing anything at all ever to just not do it.  

Although it has to be said that the punishments should anyone attempt to walk their dog with a propeller whilst diving into the sea and driving a car/bike were not made clear.  And there wasn’t anybody around who looked like they wanted to enforce any of these rules either.

Mostly people just ate ice cream and chilled their Sunday afternoon anyway.  Thankfully, people don’t need signs to tell them how to do that.

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Diana in Paris

(C) Jon Smalldon 2014 - All rights reservedHow would you explain it now?  That for a week after the crash there was literally nothing else on the TV, on the radio, in the papers?  That crowds gathered at random spots associated with the life of a woman they could never have met and threw flowers.  That, on the day of Diana’s funeral, millions of people lined the funeral route and howled in hysterical despair?  That it seemed like the world could never be the same again but that, actually, nothing really changed at all.

I like to be aloof and say I rose above it all.  I did have an excuse: I was trapped in a summer job at a steel-pressing warehouse.  I even worked on the day of the funeral: me and a few others struggled out at lunchtime and found only one place open and serving.  The woman who gave us our fish and chips handed them to us with the unsaid accusation that we weren’t grieving enough.

And, in Paris, here is the people’s memorial to the people’s princess.  It doesn’t seem like it draws much attention now.  A lot of the scribbles and comments date from a few years ago; many of the photos are fading.  We came across it by accident and were the only ones there.  Maybe there are other places for the faithful to go or maybe the flame of that burning hysteria is now flickering, soon to be extinguished.

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At the Jerwood Gallery: Quentin Blake, Artists on the Beach

The Jerwood Gallery is all about drawing this summer (it’s the 20th anniversary of the Jerwood Drawing Prize, and there’s an exhibition in the Foreshore Gallery celebrating that) so they’ve called on perhaps the most famous ‘draw-er’ in Britain, Quentin Blake, to bring his trademark illustrations to Hastings.  

The conceit is deceptively simple: a portrait of ten artists whose work features in the permanent Jerwood collection presented in the context of the Jerwood and Hastings’ Stade area.

This means we get a seagull staring suspiciously at L S Lowry, for example.  Alongside this there is some nice text by QB about each of the artists featured.  There is a challenge to locate the picture being referenced but, sadly, the call of the cafe interrupted my plans for that adventure.  I may return to give it a go.

There’s a nice little accompanying notebook and the shop is now festooned with drawing kits should you find yourself inspired.  The challenge will be to do anything as wonderful as Blake seems to manage so effortlessly.

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At the match: Eastbourne United AFC v Horsham YMCA

(C) Jon Smalldon 2014 - All rights reservedThe first match of the season.  Driving over to the ground and listening to all the chat: momentum from last season, summer signings, new names, new manager, new attitude. And knowing that for 99% of the clubs being discussed the season will fall well-short of the dream.  And then, having explained that to your six-year-old co-pilot, getting to the ground and finding that the council have taken away the club car park and there’s nowhere to park as the streets are filled.  Welcome to the non league first match of the season.

But, we survived, and saw everything apart from the first six minutes.  “Town are one down”, a man in a tie said as he walked past.  Eastbourne United AFC now share a division with Eastbourne Town.  “I’m a Town man,” said a different chap in the half time queue for a coffee.  By full-time Town had lost 3-0 but United had, somehow, seen off Horsham YMCA with a clumsy goal scored not long after half time.  Nobody asked how Eastbourne Borough were doing.  You have to keep your rivalries close.

My photo shows a Horsham YMCA player wondering quite how he missed a sitter. The aforementioned six-year-old co-pilot had some thoughts on the matter which, thankfully, the player didn’t hear.

In the end, as we stalked off to find our car parked in the distance, we departed happily enough.  On the radio they were explaining that Brighton had lost their opening match of the season.  “But weren’t Brighton supposed to win?” came the question.  Well, yes, they were.  Such is the dashing of dreams as the season begins.

(Some more photos, some are even in focus, here.)

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About “Jean Ribault”

(C) Jon Smalldon 2014 - All rights reservedSometimes you shouldn’t show off your ignorance but today I’m going to.  Until I took this photo I’d never heard of Jean Ribault capitaine der mer, Dieppois et huguenot.  But it’s one of those searches for knowledge that’s led me down a path of understanding.  Or at least, if not understanding, then a whole bunch of new facts to win me friends the next time I’m in a pub quiz.

A quick read over his wikipedia entry seems to show a man forever on the wrong side: he fights for the Protestants in Dieppe and loses, he escapes to England where he meets Elizabeth I and arranges support for a voyage to America – and is then imprisoned as a spy.  He returns to France when peace breaks out in the religious wars – following which he takes a band of huguenots over to Florida to press the French claim for the colony.  He arrives in August 1565 and by the end of September the Spanish have over-run Fort Caroline and put all its inhabitants to death.  Including Ribault.  The location of the Fort is lost to history but Ribault has given his name to a High School in Jacksonville and a ride in an amusement park in Georgia.  To be honest, that’s better than most of us will manage.

And, in the town he could not hold, there is a memorial.  It is in the grounds of Dieppe’s chateau (which houses a rather wonderful museum showcasing its maritime, military and artistic heritage) and you’ll find it as you look around over the panorama of the town and out to the blue sea beyond.  Maybe as you wonder who exactly Jean Ribault is you’ll think to yourself: y’know, I’d quite like to be a capitaine de mer …

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