Friday, December 28, 2007

more horses

Me and Paddy have become good friends, I feel like he knows me!



Found this placed within the Tak room where all the officers collect their horses' tak before loading up.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas

Christmas with the Richardsons. Catalina gets involed...



Rosario joins in with the hymn singing...



and Mike jumps around in the park.

Friday, December 07, 2007

quote of the week


Whilst Rosario was watching TV, the adverts started, and a popular song by a well known English singer began playing, promoting his best hits for xmas gifts.

"Oh what a shame. I didn't know what Cliff Richard looked like"!

Monday, December 03, 2007

repetition

Can you say 'hipopotamo'?
"popomótamo"
Can you say 'mariposa'?
"masiposa"
Can you say 'helicoptero'?
"oquito"
Can you say 'peligroso'?
"peioso"
Muy bien!
"muyén"

Monday, November 26, 2007

Two Friends

Here is one of the short films I shot over in Africa. This one's in Tanzania.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Tanzania

Tanzania was a different experience. In Zambia we had stayed in the same village for nearly two weeks and had intergrated to quite an extent with some amazing people. In Tanania we never stopped travelling, moving from town to town to visit different school girls, teachers and organisers all involved within the charity to some extent or another. We were interviewing selected people as case studies to promote the charity's work, so as to encourage more funding.



Since we never settled anywhere the chance to intergrate wasn't so easy. But the landscapes we saw on our bumpy car journeys were astounding. The earth is red rock, and the vegetation rich green, so the colours contrast sharply. It's a mountainous land (home of Kilimanjaro) and we saw many amazing valleys. There is a high amount of road fatalities because of lorry drivers. They overload often, and prefer to drive at night since there's less traffic. They often drive drunk. There are no street lamps or cats eyes or painted bollards. Anywhere. In Tanzania. I can't recall how many overturned lorries we saw on the road, but there were a lot.


Whilst driving we spotted a lady farming her land, she looked about 60yrs old. She was clearing her huge area of land of dead sugar cane leaves by herself in the heat. We stopped to ask her if we could film her, and she said only if we took a photo of her with her family. Here in the background you can see her husband and three sons who all died in the war against Uganda. That's why she's farming the land on her own.
Occasionally we spotted some Masai warriors. They are a nomadic tribe that still wear their traditional garb. In the capital of Dar es Salaam I saw loads more of them at night. Many just stood next to a car watching everything go by. I was told that it's fashionable to have a Masai bodyguard to look after you or your car whilst you go to a restaurant or a club. How cool would I look if I had one in Camden!?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mulishani?



Mwelwa was our translator who worked for Camfed. Even though most people in Zambia speak English those from the poorer villages without education only speak thier tribal language, which in this case was Bemba. There is also Tongo, Losi, Nianja and even one called Lala - I wandered what the Teletubbies would make of that.


From the Samfya Women Film makers the women came from different parts of the village. Some were teenagers with young babies like Christine above, others were from the fishing village, others were older mothers with several children.


Doreen (above) was from the fishing village, and we had to film her at her hut by the lake. Word got around quickly that two white people were in the village with a camera, and a crowd rapidly gathered around us, following and watching us wherever we went. I didn't realise at one point there were more than forty people, mostly men and children, crowding around me. I only found out about the boy leisurely lying down behind me when I saw this photo.



I think I got an authentic taste of what it's like to be famous. Everywhere we went in the town we would get stared at. By everyone at the same time. So I would just get used to it. If someone stared at me straight in the eye, I'd say hello. Or as they say, 'mulishani' which means 'how are you?'. I think I said mulishani about a hundred times a day. When I rarely saw other white people I'd get jealous and think 'but I am the unique white man here, go away!'.

My name is Muamba Phiri


I find it quite hard to process everything I have experienced in the last ten days to write down here in short. I have realised my strength in integration, and felt like I bonded with people of a totally different culture rather successfully. I learnt a lot of their language in a short amount of time, and they even gave me a Bemba name!
Zambia is a country of 72 languages, due to so many tribes. I was staying in a region called Samfya where they speak Ichi Bemba. I was making a series of short films for a charity called Camfed. Founded in 1993, it is the only charity of its kind to raise funding to educate girls in most need of an education when the ratio is 1 girl for every 10 boys that manage to go to school. Camfed was designed to help those girls who were most in need. A year ago a group of girls from a rural village were randomly selected to be trained to make documentaries about their community within their community, and I was there to monitor their progress. Their reconstruction of the life of Penelop was filmed and edited a year ago and they have been showing it to villages in the region, where most people are far too poor to even have televisions. It fundamentally raises AIDS awareness and the many social problems that stem from it. One advert read 'If you are not infected with AIDS, you are effected. Do not live in ignorance.'

I met some incredible women, and girls, who on first meeting were a kind and happy people. But what I found so hard to digest was the unbelievable amount of suffering most had gone through, and survived due to amazing strength of character. And to know that their experiences were commonly found not just around Samfya, or soley Zambia, but many African countries.



In the picture above I am with Penelop (middle) and Cindy. Cindy is 13yrs old. She is an attractive, intelligent and gregarious young lady. Her parents died when she was 3. Her uncle as is tradition took care of her and her brother, but did not care for them like he did his own children. He did not buy them school books, nor supply them with decent school uniforms. He would often beat them. When they arrived home they would have to eat the left overs his children had left on the table. By the time she reached the age of 11 she decided to leave with her brother and walk 15 miles to the nearest town where her aunty lived. Her uncle found her there and asked why she had left. She was not afraid of him, and said she would never return to his house again. Camfed found out about her and has been funding her secondary school education since. The producer I filmed with has already edited a short story of Cindy's experience that you can find if you click here. If you listen you'll notice she doesn't mention her uncle, she goes straight to her aunty and skips the first 8 years of her life. I didn't film it, but it's very similar to the stuff I did out there.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Listen

One Two Three Four
Tell me that you love me more
Sleepless long nights
That is what my youth was for

Old teenage hopes are alive at your door
Left you with nothing but they want some more

Oh, you're changing your heart
Oh, You know who you are

Sweetheart bitterheart now I can tell you apart
Cosy and cold, put the horse before the cart

Those teenage hopes who have tears in their eyes
Too scared to own up to one little lie

One, two, three, four, five, six, nine, or ten
Money can't buy you back the love that you had then
One, two, three, four, five, six, nine, or ten
Money can't buy you back the love that you had then

FEIST

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Mounted Branch

I'm filming a series at the moment called Mounted Branch which is more about the horses than the police who ride them. I got on so well with the team that they promoted me to the rank of Sergeant. As you can see I've already started getting the uniform. But the horse comes last, no one will trust me with one of those for some reason.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

At the dinner table


I had to stop Rosario in mid conversation and ask "Why is Catalina dressed like Miami Vice?"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No fear



I was about to write a terribly boring entry about how happy I was with the new bath panels I'd put up in our bathroom then I saw the other pic of Juanita I'd taken yesterday at the park. She had climbed up onto the highest ropes to get to the other side of the toddlers' assualt course and all the other mothers watched in astonishment at how high that little blond girl could reach without fear. Yes, I thought, that's my girl.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Drills in my mouth



I had to see the dentist today because the right side of my face has swelled up the size of a balloon. If you cover the left side of my face I look like Don Corleone's long lost nephew. I'm going to have my bottom right wisdom tooth taken out, the first one to leave. But not until the swelling has stopped. So the dentist put me on antibiotics and sent me to the hygenist.

I'm sat there lying down on the blue padded reclining chair, she shines a light in my "north and south" and gets out her metal tools. After she scraped away at my gums she got out a tiny drill and started using it on my upper teeth. She stopped at one tooth and drilled so much the pitch of the whirling needle went up and up, and the pain got worse and worse with this woman's gloved hands grabbing my jaw to fix it in place, then I suddenly just started laughing! I couldn't believe the ridiculous position I was in, at the mercy of this woman I'd never met before.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tracking



I enjoyed this shoot. It was about a scientist creating a new type of gel for women to use as a preventative to catching HIV through sexual intercourse. The gel has been in development for years but it's soon to come on the market. Here we filmed the presenter
asking the scientist about how it was made in the laboratory, whilst I slowly tracked across the science lab's bottles and potions that passed slowly through foreground. I love the way you can tell the two people are lit.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dame


Two coffees and a medialuna and make it snappy

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I did this



If the theory of parallel universes existed and I looked through a magic window at each one to see how my life turned differently, I think I'd find myself in Italy, Spain or maybe even still stuck in Watford. In Watford I'd be a manager at Sainsbury's, monolingual and quite probably disillusioned. In Italy I might be married living in Milan teaching English, still. In Spain I'd be a school director in Madrid and know every bar in my suburb. That's my honest instinct. So I think I can say with confidence that I have chosen the right universe to live in, and I can see living proof in the black and white above.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

meme de mi apellido

Better late than never as started by Matias I looked up my surname in Google. It's like a following of other ideas created by other bloggers that write about something then pass on the same subject to their blogger pals. He wrote about finding his namesake on Google, and passed the 'meme' on to Rosario who passed it onto me. The surname Sanchez is as common as Smith or Jones in the UK if not more so. Finding a famous Sanchez is probably too easy, like Marta Sanchez, Roger Sanchez also known as DJ Sanchez, Roselyn Sanchez and I could go on. So I put my first name in aswell and found Ricardo Sanchez, or rather Lieutenant General Ricardo Sánchez.




LtG Ricardo Sanchez was a US Army General who commanded the coalition forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004. I did actually know of him as I remember seeing him on the news quite often at the time. What I didn't know was that his retirement was tainted by the tortures that occured during the end of his term. According to an official memo signed by himself, he personally authorized the use of coercive interrogation techniques outlawed by the Geneva Convention. In other words, he condoned the use of torture in interrogation. He retired soon after. In conclusion, not such a pleasant comparison to my own name!
Now what I couldn't find anything on was my full name. Ricardo Sanchez Blake-Lobb. There was only one Elvira Sanchez Blake who is a writer on Latin literature based in the USA but that was without the Lobb, so it doesn't count! So what I'm supposed to do now is pass it on to other bloggers, but this chain is an old one so I'll just remind those that Rosario intended to pass it on to, which was el Oso and Uch.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ivan

I'm in the middle of filming three seperate reports for a London based regional news program for the BBC. The second of the three has proved really interesting, not least because of the presenter. The item was about homosexual discrimination within big city work places, particularly the high earners in the prestigious financial sector of London called Canary Wharf. The director warned me the presenter was a little eccentric, he lives in Barcelona but was coming to London especially for the program. His name was Ivan Massow, and what I slowly discovered was how monumental his actions were during the break out of AIDS in the late 80s and the consequent victimisation of all homosexual men.




Because of the ignorance of the disease a lot of people assumed it was mostly spread by gay men. All over Britain people believed if you were gay you were most vulnerable to AIDS and therefore suffer death soon after. Suddenly life insurance was impossible to acquire if you were openly gay. With no life insurance, there's no mortgage, and you can't buy a house. All underwriters in the UK charged extortionate premiums for all homosexual men without any legal action made against them. One gay investment banker called Ivan Massow decided to quit his high-paid job and set up a small business that everyone in city circles laughed at so much he became a public joke and was ridiculed in all the tabloids at the time. He found a loophole in the system where he practically smuggled gay men in through certain underwriters enabling them to get mortgages at normal rates. As the papers laughed he made millions and millions of pounds.




That was where he got his fame, but I later found out he founded numerous charities that supported victims of various forms of discrimination. He was briefly the chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Arts until he publicly declared how fake the industry was. He influenced politicians because he was so outspoken.
It was quite odd to eat lunch with him during filming and talk about when he had lunch with Prince Charles. He was very down to earth, and not at all arrogant about his success and wealth. I think I read he never even wanted to be really successful. Jonathan Swift said "The wise man has money in his head but not in his heart." I'm more like Jackie Mason who said "I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something."

Monday, August 27, 2007

visit



Went to see Mum in Dorking yesterday. She got some colouring books out for Juanita.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I got my camera back!


She was watching two older girls play clap hands together.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tabloid find

Mum told me she'd read in the gossip columns of a tabloid newspaper about a man my age who was head boy at my school. She asked me if I knew him and yes, I remember Nicholas Saunders. He was quite tall, blond and a little reserved... at least I barely spoke to him. I had heard a couple of things about him, that he tried professional golf for a while, that he even became a feature film producer for Warner Brothers in LA. Now *that* I couldn't believe! This was the short article I found.
The handsome man spotted embracing actress Keira Knightley in a cheese shop in London has been unmasked. He is, I can reveal, film producer Nick Saunders, 30, a former assistant to Keira's Pirates Of The Caribbean co-star Orlando Bloom. According to old friends, Saunders was head boy of St Columba's School in St Albans before he won a golf scholarship to study at Harvard. "He was always very popular at school," says a pal. "He's quite a man-about-town and is friends with Lady Gabriella Windsor. He's known Keira for years, but they're just friends."


Well, I wouldn't quite say that he was always very popular at school, he was a bit distant and aloof quite a lot of the time. It feels odd to think that we came from the same school, almost as if to say all one hundred of us that attended that year were at the beginning of a race, or a journey. There will always be people better and worse off than I. I am a little envious though. Is that bad? It's one of those seven deadly sins! I'd never swap places, but it certainly does provoke thought. Above all my thoughts, there is one question that I need to ask. Who the hell is Lady Gabriella Windsor anyway?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Looking right into the horse's mouth

I had to film a horse dentist paying his annual visit to a group of around twenty horses. The Dentist was called Mark, and from the very beginning it seemed he had too much information in his head. He had to share it. We would naturally ask him questions about the process so that I could film it efficiently, and he went into detail about how the best schools in Britain still don't properly prepare students for equine dentistry since the studies are too theoretical. He was sorry to admit the best schools are in the USA where all the courses are concentrated on vocational training.
Anyway, as we went along from stable to stable, a large assistant would hold the horse's ear and lean into it's shoulder to secure it's position, pinning the giant animal against the wall. Mark would pull out a pair of metal braces and secure them around the horse's mouth so that it couldn't bite down. Then he'd roll his sleeve and feel his way in with his arm, almost reaching up to his shoulder! He told us that the animal's back teeth were too sharp and then got out a long thin metal file and place it all the way in the mouth. Then he's start filing away at all the back line of teeth, it was incredible! After filming for half an hour, and a very detailed lesson in what teeth to look out for, he said to the director "Would you like to try?". So she rolled up her sleeve and I watched her entire arm dissappear up the horses mouth. When she took it out her arm was full of saliva! Yuck! Then he asked me and I thought, well, if I don't do it I'll regret missing the opportunity. So I did. When my hand was all the way up there I was scared I'd choke him, but Mark told us that you can't choke a horse! What was even scarier was that this horse was particularly moody, and quite aggressive at the best of times, so to have an entire film crew shove their arms up his gob can't have been very pleasant! When we left him on his own he turned his back on us all and lifted his front hooves up in a slow sulky way.
In the evening I phoned Rosario all proud at having experienced something new. To which she couldn't stop laughing! When I said I didn't want to pass up on the opportunity she said if she was offered 'the opportunity' she would have told him to get lost! So we laughed, then I stopped to try and tell her what else I'd been up to, but she was still laughing. I said if you carry on laughing I'll hang up. The last I heard of her was her rising gaffaw as she couldn't even hold the phone to her ear.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

luck

Rosario and I are enjoying Cornwall. We came down quite impulsively to visit my brother in Penzance where he lives with his partner and 14 month old daughter Leala. The sun is shining, and the beach we go to overlooks a castle that sits on a small island half a mile away from the shore. Last night Ro was sitting outside looking at the stars and called me suddenly; she saw a shooting star! We took that as a wonderful sign of good luck.


Earlier today we were touring the lovely seaside town and with our buggy found a windowcleaner up a ladder right in the middle of our pavement. Because of the buggy we had to go under. We laughed it off, the Ro reminded me that at my brother's house where we are staying there is a black cat. Also, Juanita was playing with her hand mirror whilst we were travelling in the van which she dropped and broke. Today after we'd been to the beach we were hungry amd found a fast food chain (which I shall not name on principal) and we bought a couple of burgers and two drinks. It cost £6.66. I told the guy that charged me we'd seen a shooting star the night before, and we weren't afraid! He laughed, and upon leaving I wished him good luck.


So, these little coincidences I laugh at during their moment then forget they happened. This afternoon Jeremy is telling me a telephone number for a cab company he' recommending, the last five numbers are 66 666. Ok, what's going on?


But I look upon all of this as a good omen. I see them all as good luck. Primarily because when Ro and I first went to Argentina we also saw a few of these signs as we were about to embark on the greatest adventure of our lives - marriage. What confirmed the 'good' luck charms that surrounded us was the number of our honeymoon room in a beautiful little hotel in Patagonia, Villa la Angostura. Number 13!


Anyone out there mildly suspicious? Looks like Leala is...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Our House



Rosario and I have noticed a very run down and abandoned house on our road. It's not just one flat in the building such as the one we live in now, it's the entire building. The decoration on the lower exterior part has nearly come off altogether. The windows and front door have metal plates covering them so no-one can break in, obviously because it had squatters at some point. The garden is completely overgrown. And I've walked round the back to see the rear where I've spotted what could be structural damage; there are cracks in the bricks above each window on every floor. That looks like the costliest of all the neglect that embraces the house. And guess what; we want it. It would be amazing to buy a tip of a house and make it ours from scratch. Not because of the profit we could make, but because we could stay there for several years. And moreover, we would really make the place our own.
London is so costly now that it is presently unaffordable for key workers such as police officers, nurses, teachers. Generally staff who play a crucial role in the social services sector are classed as key workers and are given financial assistance when buying a house, unfortunately it doesn't help much for those that live and work in London.
A lot of people are more aware now more than ever of the investment value of a property that needs work done to it, so neglected houses don't sell as cheaply as they used to. Buying this place that appears to have been left for dead would be amazing, provided that 1) we can afford the purchase price and 2) the building is salvageable, also at a price we can afford. The ambitious nature of it all tempts me all the more.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Madrid


Just came back from a nice job in Madrid filming the last of a world competition in freestyle motorcross. It's sponsored by Red Bull, so there was plenty of money around to treat us well! Their representative took us to Real Madrid football stadium for dinner which, even though I'm not a football fan in any way was absolutely awesome!



Filming in the Plaza de Toros was a great experience, and the buzz before the big event makes everyone excited. These riders, or 'pilotos' as they romantically say in Spanish, perform the most amazing of tricks as they fly 20ft above the air at 40 miles per hour. All the Spanish wanted Dani Torres, the 20yr old from Seville, to win, but Travis Pastrana got the crown. At 24 years old, a multimillionaire because of being the only rider ever to perform a double back flip, rode for the last time in Madrid. He is retiring from the sport. At 24. He walks like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. All of these guys sustain so many injuries none of them can walk straight. In one interview we asked a rider to list his injuries, his broken bones and twisted ligaments, and as he ran through more than fifteen seperate incidents he said at the end, "Fingers and ribs don't count do they."




But Travis was above the rest in most respects. He was very media friendly, and appreciated the other side of the sport which was more demanding than what even footballers are used to. There were so many TV crews trying to film the riders, many immediately before the event where they risk their lives above a mound of sand. I'm making it sound romantic but if the rider miscalculates his jump he could land on his back from ten foot in the air. Then his bike could follow down on top of him. Nate Adams landed one jump at speed and appeared to slightly bump into the panel on the other side of the ring. When we wondered why he had to stop his run prematurely it turned out he'd broken his hand. A producer asked Travis what the best question he'd ever been asked was. He thought about it and said "Can you sign this please?"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

more black and white



There's something about black and white photos that simplify the image and so make it purer. I love that. This one below of Juanis is a little over exposed but I just love her expression - feigned anger. Her speech is improving, she often recites 'Twinke twinkle little star' almost word for word but not quite knowing what the words mean, it's so sweet! And today she said Papá Daddy, that was brilliant! I felt so happy hearing daddy, a lot more than papá. I never realized how hearing that word from her mouth in my own language would be so much more significant to me. I should speak to her more in English, Spanish is the main language at home. And with this daft Argentinian accent, lord knows why.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Monsoon Britain



Yesterday the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down for about 30 minutes. Reports said some parts of Britain had an entire month's rain in just a few hours. The amount of people that have had to stay in emergency accomodation over the last week in Britain is astounding. Reports this morning speak of people having slept in their cars on the M5 (a major motorway in the west of England) because they were inbetween closed junctions due to flooding. Up to ten thousand cars were stationary for over ten hours last night. One man left work at 15:30 yesterday hoping to get home for 16:15 as he normally does. He arrived home at 06:45 this morning.



I think the next house we move into will have to be well above sea level.

Friday, July 20, 2007

chuffed

Wow I'm really chuffed. Remember my inspiration for the Caravaggio entry? The director called me this afternoon to let me know some feedback from her bosses. There was a private viewing to see the edited result for her tudor girl episode and the series producer said "Who is that cameraman? He is good!" So it may look like I get more work for that series if word gets around! In one interview I shot of the girl I placed her infront of an open door, lit acutely from the side by the sun as she was sat in near darkness (a little like the old man illustrated kindly by Caravaggio below). I was concerned at the time you could hardly see all of her features or any background and I was being far too 'arty'. His comment was "it looks like some special French documentary!" Oh my goodness what a compliment!!



Anyway thanks for the flattery, just give me some work!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

black and white



DJ Catalina annoyed at the clubbers as she tries to mix some tunes. Rosario's picture is underexposed but it's all about that little bottom left hand corner...



Look at Juanita's little finger poking out on her left hand. Her expression on her face is one of patience because I kept telling her to stand still for the photo!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Spitting Image


Between my spouse and I a competition has slowly become apparent since both of us have blogs; who gets the better pic. The thing is, I normally lose since Rosario is always writing some sort of entry whereas I only add to this blog occasionally. This time though, I fought for this pic. The bath tub would take ages to fill, and we were on our way out so I just figured I'd dissinfect the kitchen sink and bathe her in there. And look how happy she is!


This photo is disturbing; It reminds me of me when I was around her age. Disturbing in the sense that it IS me wearing a girl's dress and neckless. Now I haven't done that since I was a student, but I won't go into that...