Tales From The North: A Reunion Of Two Poles [I]

[Double-click on the photo-montage to access enlarged view]

My photographic theme of the year, Reunions, continues to gain giggling momentum as you shall discover in the latest series of offerings freshly plucked from my newest assignment. Before we plod on with the proceedings I suppose an essential criterion for my approval of your readership would be to ensure that you prepare yourself a decent cup of tea for maximum enjoyment of the things that I am about share with you! Poppycock I say – coffee simply does not count for that is the drink for those that need to be woken up but, tea, my esteemed reader, is for the awakened…

Now, I have not the murkiest or foggiest or the blizzardiest (I think I might have invented that last one!) from where you may be reading my words as of this minute however, I am inclined to believe that for a great majority of the inhabitants of this green and blue beach ball my beloved British Isles will appear like a crumb gone astray on the global map! It is an ever so tiny land mass and quite right you are if you are rubbing your head in convulsing confusion over how something as geographically insignificant could have once reigned as one of the most powerful colonial forces ever to have flourished and floundered in political history. Yet, for this resident of the humbly-sized isle, when I open out the map of Britain and spread it across the table I feel as though a whole world of exciting adventures are waiting to be unlocked from underneath the names of its various counties and prominent landmarks. For those of you who are not yet acquainted with my home county, I grew up near the southern coast in the cathedral town of Winchester, famous for once being the Roman capital but after their hasty departure subsequent royal families transferred that status over to the present day capital of London. Yep, I am a southern belle and you’d know that in an instant if you’re from these parts because of the accent and the excessive fondness for Haribos sweets! Oh do stop getting in a huff, I am only pulling your stumpy legs about the latter! You may or may not self-thump yourself when I say that despite blessed with a cranberry red passport that has seen zillions of airports – and beyond of course! – of many countries, I have delayed far too much in undertaking more extensive explorations of my own country, treading no more up north than Birmingham which is located in the centre of England. So, I figured and did so without a calculator or a sinister tailor’s dummy, why not converge a reunion story with an adventure that would take this lady of the southern pole of the British Isles to the opposite end of her nation, to the quiet windswept moors of the far north! Does it not have an air of the meditative travels of the famous Japanese poet and sage, Matsuo Basho? Except, of course, I was to fly out to the north and that I would be met on the other side by warm faces that I had not seen in a very long time sprinkled with twitching excitement at the prospect that besides a reunion there was so much more awaiting my presence – unions to be made with members of my family tree that I had never met before! I am deeply thankful to my Almighty and Destiny for paving the way for me to embark on this journey whose splendour, joy, humour and effusion of celebratory proof that Love and Family are the true elixirs of Life, shines through the faces and magical moments that I captured along the way.

‘Tales Of The North: A Reunion Of Two Poles’ is a photographic series that shall not be presented in ordered themes, rather I have opted to deliver my visual journal in the format of a hotchpotch layout of images to better express the constant stimulation and curiosity people and places have for me. The world is a jack-in-the-box surprise in my eyes, stories jump out at me and beckon for my imagination to serve them on paper and lens! If you are lucky enough to be viewing this on a large computer screen then double-click on the montage to have it enlarged – no, there are no secret messages embedded in the frames, so sorry to be a snotty-nosed disappointment!

Presuming that you are accustomed to flight terminology, if you will your eyeballs to manoeuvre in a clockwise direction around the montage, starting from the top-left, you can enjoy the short and highly sweet commentary that follows and which accompanies each image. I see you are out of tea – preposterousness has its limits but you have seemed to have flouted that too! Why are you flinching? It’s only my mumsy’s fluffy bedtime slippers for heaven’s sake! Off you go, brew yourself another cuppa and only then return to me!

We begin with the formidable intellectual locomotive force of Mr Talha, my 8yr old cousin brother and a man of many sophisticated words! Witty, artful and articulation as sharp as the sword of a knight of Camelot, you’d think looking at the portrait that we’ve been best buddies since time immemorial but, the fact of the matter is, this was our first encounter and boy were we peas in a pod! I proudly declared to his mumsy – my Aunty – that he was my new best friend! What was particularly funny was that up until now, no one had ever dared to challenge Mr Talha’s cognitive supremacy over the human race in Northumberland until, naturally, I appeared on the scene! I gave him as good as I got and by the end of the first night his hands were cradling his own head, smoke poured forth from his ears and nostrils and with equal awe and defeat he exclaimed – and I quote, these are his own words, “Ohhh man! I can’t believe I have been outsmarted by a woman!!!!” Yes, pay heed all male readers because, if the prodigious Mr Talha threw in the towel all crumpled and sweaty, you have no chance in the world! Giggle, giggle!!!!

The two beautiful ladies in the Waterstones bookshop are my adorable teenage cousins, Alina and Mahin whom I saw many years prior and what delight to see that both are shooting past my hobbity height like there’s no tomorrow! Since we are all seasoned bookworms, letting us loose in a bookshop means complete amnesia of the outside world. It ceases to exist! We jostled around and eventually the children’s section came into view and immediately our nose for nostalgia perked up. The girls picked up the ‘Mr Men’ series and we began to match personalities with our own family members, like you do when you’re in a bookshop! What, you don’t? Oh goodness sake, live a little!! Mahin and Alina came to an unanimous decision that ‘Mr Rush’ was definitely a fine mirror image of their busy dad, my quick-stepping Uncle! Perhaps it describes you too? Do you burn leather when you’re out on the trot? Oh my, really…!?

Pre-departure to our nature and history trail of this quiet sleepy northern town, I treated the girls to a hot beverage in the local café. I was somewhat blown away by Mahin’s cosmopolitan knowledge of coffees and the sophisticated madam was adamant that a café latte was in order! What a masterful sipper, not a decibel of slurp bounced on my eardrums! Fret not, I drank enough teas in front of them throughout my stay that my model behaviour inoculated all those around me. Even Mahin began drinking a leafy cuppa with me in the morning! That girl is a super trouper!

Little did I realise that my Aunty was a dab hand at jewellery making. A teacher of the craft, I would have never guessed if only she did not lay out her kit one afternoon on the table and there was I, helplessly transfixed and inordinately speechless by the magical wonders coming to life before me! This is an owl necklace that she made previously but I had her model it since it reminds me of Mr Owlia, a beloved fictional character from one of my poems…

No reunion story is ever fully officialised without a trip to the park and playground! Here, Mahin presents us with compelling evidence for why high-heels are overrated and unnecessary! Simply carry a set of retractable monkey bars with you and climb on top of it and then plonk your bottom on it and hey presto, you can see over everyone’s heads! Sorry, what was that? I’ve got the wrong end of the stick about high-heels? Well, why else would you want to wear 10 inch heels?!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! I stepped into the town’s adorably small shopping centre and immediately it seemed to me as if someone from somewhere had serenaded my path with floating hearts and the word LOVE emblazoned in huge bold red ink! Ahem, ahem, that wasn’t your childish antics by any chance? Giggle, giggle!!

Ah, yes, Mahin and Alina out in the town square and I’ll have you know that there were a few survey trolls with clipboards loitering around us but I deflected them into a state of anxiety and nervousness as soon as they became aware of Lumiere, my camera – a little lens who happens to come equipped with a gigantic invisible force field to push-off unwanted slimy intruders! Ha, take that!!

Oh look who it is again! My new best friend and the endlessly talented, Mr Talha! In this scene I asked him a most pressing question: “Do you think there is a man out there who is silly but courageous enough to win the affections of your Moni Afa – me?” Well, look again at the scene, my dear reader, does it not look like the little man is stuck in an inescapable eternal conundrum?! Giggle, giggle once again!!

Our final frame displays my very dignified Uncle who treated us all to a delicious evening dinner at a top-notch new restaurant in the metropolitan city next door. I do remember with fond endearment how he looked on with puzzlement as the red lemonade came round to our table! It was a perfect sparkler to kick-start the colourful motely of dishes that followed! What a fine night and one that I will cherish forever and ever and ever – oh crikey, I sound like a demented Disney princess!! Ahem ahem, a cup of tea should fix that in no time…!

Tales From The North: A Reunion Of Two Poles [I]

“…. no one had ever dared to challenge Mr Talha’s cognitive supremacy over the human race in Northumberland until, naturally, I appeared on the scene! I gave him as good as I got and by the end of the first night his hands were cradling his own head, smoke poured forth from his ears and nostrils and with equal awe and defeat he exclaimed – and I quote, these are his own words, “Ohhh man! I can’t believe I have been outsmarted by a woman!!!!”

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winter Reunion Series | Northumberland | UK 2015