In 2011 I posted my America, Surreal America series, consisting of 16 photo essays, with each one comprised of 20 surreal photographs, some 320 images. That series was a follow up on the previous twenty-part series, Magi Discovering America - consisting of 722 photographs selected from well over 17,000 edited images taken during my six months exploration of the USA in 2010. During the 2009 and 2010-11 periods I also posted some 72 photo-essays - surreal and other - about life in Western Australia: just over 1,000 photos in all.
Be that as it may, after America, Surreal America I posted a new series, the recently concluded Surreal America, consisting of 634 photographs. Simultaneously with this series I posted the six part Forest Hills Cemetery series of 189 images - with the subject matter itself needing no manipulations by me to make it surreal. When that mini-series ceased, I posted two surreal photo essays, of some 72 photos, depicting an autumn road trip to Canada via New Hampshire and Maine.
I reckon people have seen enough for a while of my take on slivers of living in North America - a total of approximately 1,800 photos to accompany the 1,000 West Aussie images. So let's take aim with a total of 476 photographs at what it is like to engage in what I've termed the Surreal English & French experience. It is a surreal look in that every photograph has been altered. This has been mainly accomplished by using Picasa but sometimes by also using Microsoft Paint as well to manipulate the images. Not a single image is as the eye would ordinarily see it.
Now, let's take each country in turn, beginning with England - and what better way to kick it all off than by looking at going via shanks ponies and train to ... to London, of course, from the burbs, of course. And let's hope the course doesn't get coarse! Keeping my hopeless commentary short will help with that. As will me scrupulously citing any references, meticulously following the embalmed encyclicals in the Dead Sea Scrolls Style Manual revelations for struggling scholars.
Our home base while in England - the home of Lynn and my brother Hans in Sunningdale, Berkshire, an affluent suburb surrounded by the extensive royal estates.
G'day, Liz! Put the kettle on and we'll pop around for a chinwag. G'day, Phil, saddle a couple of bloody nags, mate, and we'll trot around seeing how the other half live.
To and from Heathrow Airport we saw this sight a short way from home. A sign says that across the road is Royal Holloway, University of London. There is a permanent vacancy for a multi-skilled chimney sweep adept at clearing gutters.
This soon became a familiar sight: Bob trudging in the early morning light towards the Sunningdale railway station. But then wearily walking home in the dark because of the very short days during the autumn-winter darkness that is London. The anonymous person who took this photograph invariably staggered on blistered and bleeding feet behind her.
If only the Beatles had used this as their song title ... this would then not be an area with dark, dense shrubbery for a community of muggers to safely hide in.
I can almost hear the ghost of Johnny Cash singing, I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow.
(Source: an anonymous quotation from the Dead Sea Scrolls secret after-life edition of The Encyclopedia of Ghost Singers.)
Here on the pedestrian bridge high above the lines one is given stunning views of the storm clouds brewing in the direction of London, our destination today.
As the funky train alarmingly squeals to a halt, an English gentlemen reassuringly gropes the thigh of a terrified stranger. Chivalry is not dead on train stations.
(Source: a security camera image from the Dead Sea Scrolls expose edition of The Gentleman Groper's Handbook.)
We ignore the bomb disposal squad checking the approaches to Waterloo Station. We turn our noses up at second hand chewing gum sold at bargain prices to passengers by the squad.
(Source: an illustrative photograph from the Dead Sea Scrolls travel advice edition of The Bomb Squad and You.)
We resist the temptation to feed the inner tourist ... the still hidden sights of London beckon.
(Source: an advertisement from the Dead Sea Scrolls culinary section of The Bomb Squad Loves You.)
As we search for the exit, a sight to behold is this shrine to a once freshly baked Nero Caesar who fiddled black and blue during the great fire of London.
(Source: the Roman Dead Sea Scrolls special edition of The Classified Untold History of England.)
We must have taken a wrong turning on this sprawling station that is the Waterloo terminus and somehow stumbled onto where Cinderellas come for magic pumpkins.
(Source: a faked image from the Fantasia Dead Sea Scrolls unabridged fairytale edition of How to Defy Stepmothers and Three Ugly Sisters.)
A railway bathroom for gentleman which, unfortunately, has neither a shower nor bath but does have Olde World graffiti daubed on the wall tiles. However, it seems prudent not to go inside, for the floor appears to be soaked in blood. Chivalry does not extend to public bathrooms for gentlemen.
(Source: a candid camera photograph image from the Dead Sea Scrolls unedited draft of The handbook for gentleman gropers.)
Eureka! The ciggy smoke clouds did not lead us astray - we have discovered the main portal to Waterloo Station.
Here we see none other than Waterloo Bridge. A romantic movie of precisely that name, subsequently remade twice, was voted at the Colosseum Academy Awards as being of no less than 10 boxes of tissues in value at the original screening. All repeat screenings of this tear jerker were judged to be worth five boxes of tissues.
(Source: the Italian Dead Sea Scrolls revised edition of The Classified Untold History of the Coliseum's Gladiator Academy Awards.)
Here we see the bloodshot Eye that ceaselessly searches for the Precious - a one-way, first class air to anywhere in Australia.
(Source: a reconstructed drawing from the Dead Sea Scrolls warning edition of The Vegemite Ring of Power.)
Bob thanks Paul, a thorough gentleman we met on the train and who rescued us when we misread directions of the ciggy smoke signals on Waterloo Station; and who then escorted us to here where we simply could not get lost ... though we later tried.
Thank you very much, Paul! Both Bob and I hope that our paths will cross again some day.
Bob and the contents of her pocket book are hidden in shadow and away from the Eye searching the other way.
We who are about to die salute you ...
Oh, you brave fools, you brave fools!
(Source: the Roman Dead Sea Scrolls truncated Spartacus edition of The Roman Army Needs You.)
Like a moth to the flame, Bob seems to be drawn to the Eye, no matter how far away it is. Don't go that way, Bob. It wants the Precious!
(Source: a secret photograph from the Dead Sea Scrolls Orbiting Satellite Camera feel-good edition of The Optometrist is Precious.)
We really do have to stop meeting like this!
This ecstatic, public adoration of technology is totally shameless. Can texting become even more absurd?
(Source: an anonymous image from the Dead Sea Scrolls blatant after life edition of To Hell With Road Rules, The Dark Side is With You.)
The Big Issue: To walk or not to walk.
Oh, run you fool, to the safety of Dr Who's phone box, disguised in red.
Their turn to sit in the sun and take time out for a puff of a ciggy.
(Source: the Roman-Italian Dead Sea Scrolls pizza edition of The Spaghetti Western Standing Orders for Sitting Without Macaroni.)
There ain't no sunshine sitting outside Dalys Wine Bar where it is so damned cold.
Reading all about irate taxpayers and the damned homeless.
(Source: a drive-by image from the Dead Sea Scrolls unedited draft of The Taxpayer and Retired Gentlemen.)
This must be where they made the movie, Bus Stop and where the Hollies sang the song of the same name. But where's the bloody bus?
(Source: a security camera photograph from the Dead Sea Scrolls bus stop aversion therapy sealed section of The Sphinx and Mummy Want to Meet You - discrete brown paper bag edition.)
With darkness falling, it's time to catch the train home.
A painter's life is not an easy one - it can be hard on the bum sitting all day in a railway station.
The end of the line or a new beginning starts here. And always, it starts now.
(Source: the Roman Dead Sea Scrolls Abridged edition of The Roman Army's Standing Orders for Camel and Other Trains.)