Shall I call him a rag and bone man or is that demeaning ? It shouldn’t be, there was something noble in his manner and his independence, he must have been one of the last “bone grubbers” to work the streets of South London. He seemed to be making his way home and I followed, I’m not quite sure why. But he soon noticed me, my awkward cloak of invisibility had slipped and now he was wary, he probably thought the camera was government property. But I was just curious and wanted to know who he was, what he exactly he did to eek out a living, where was home if that was indeed where he was heading. Was there a family waiting to hear his day’s story, had it been a rewarding day ? So much raw material lay on the Brixton streets, but he just passed it all by moving with real purpose, perhaps he was being highly selective or he has passed his quota for the day, or his tea beckoned… I paused to load another roll of film and he vanished; all my questions remained unanswered.
He would have been a very old man by the time of my second visit to the Atlantic Road area nearly 35 years later. I tried to retrace the route, but the world has shifted and only some of it makes any sense, I turn a corner into what I expected to be familiar territory, but then I see I am lost.