About a year ago, I decided to photograph people who worked in my surrounding area of Brockley in south east London, perhaps in a way to get to know my surrounding area a bit better. One of the places I visited was a shop called ‘Sounds Around’, an eccentric, family run business which contained all sorts of trinkets imaginable. It was run by Dave, a soft spoken, gentle man with such kindness in his eyes, which at times revealed a tinge of sadness. Please see my post from January 26th ‘The beginning of an exciting year’ for more on this experience.
Today I found out that Dave has sadly passed away, nearly a year since I photographed him. I immediately thought back to the last time I saw Dave when I visited ‘Sounds Around’ just before Christmas to get a few last minute things for an exhibition I was planning. He was still just as gentle and good natured as I remembered him to be, just this time he had a cold and the colour from his cheeks was slightly faded. As usual, there was a customer in the store, an elderly lady perched on a fold out chair, enjoying Daves company and telling him all about her day to which Dave would smile softly, nod and simply…listen. After exchanging a few words with Dave, I walked out of the store, purchase in hand and a hint of a smile on my face. As I closed the door and listened to the echo of the door bell chime behind me, I never would have thought that that would be the last time I would see Dave.
I guess most of the time, you don’t think about last times. In some way we go through our lives naively thinking certain people will always be there until they are not, and then it hits you…we don’t live forever. The people who are such a fundamental part of your life, those that pass you on the street or those faces you see regularly working in your local store, won’t always be there. You won’t always be there. It’s strange how we always seem to be racing time, conscious of the fact that we don’t have enough of it, yet the passing of people and the reality of lifes cycle doesn’t quite seem to register. We put our heads down and march forward, always thinking of the next gain, the next achievement, the next worry, the next thing to do on our infinite list, so much so that we take each other for granted. We forget to take time for one another, to partake in a simple daily exchange with a stranger and lift our heads from the ground in front of us to the faces of the people surrounding us. We too often forget to be open, take time rather than race it and appreciate.
From the little I knew of Dave, the impression I had was that he took time rather than raced it and I am happy I got to connect with his life even in a minor way. I am sure he will be missed greatly by many of the Brockley community. My condolences go out to his family who I hope are doing okay.
Here are a few more photographs I took during my visit there a year ago. Looking at these photographs, I find it difficult to comprehend that he is now gone yet his image remains firmly set, peering back at me from the pictures and if I hadn’t been told that he had passed, he would still be there, in the store, like an eternalised memory within the photographs.