Taken Word - West London

January 05, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Taken Word



On Christmas day I had the pleasure of sharing my Christmas dinner(lunch) with Graham. I think we both enjoyed each other’s company as much. I recalled seeing the smile and gratitude on his face. For a couple of hours I experienced the life of a homeless person. In spite of my willingness to come down to his level for a brief moment, after an hour or so I was already running out of that willingness. The warm food that I brought with me went cold after five minutes of plating it and the rain came so the crispy roast potatoes became soggy and the chicken, a bit too juicy for my liking. Nevertheless we finished our meals and enjoyed a glass of red wine and exchanged stories with laughter(inspired by @lee_jeffries)
Graham – I am originally from Scotland and years ago decided to walk to London. It took me 20 days to walk and I only stopped at night to sleep. Since then I have been making that journey back and forth, a couple times a year. It’s about 500 miles so I walk an average of 22 miles a day, I love it though. I am now turning 50 and it’s about 15 years ago I last worked. I used to lay tiles on roofs for a living, that’s all I’ve always done. When I became homeless, I realised I can get by without working. I don’t need much really; my stomach has shrunk and my body has adapted to utilising very little energy. I can go days without eating and when I’m walking to and from Scotland, I survive on pheasant and pigeon eggs when I can find them. I have quite a few children but don’t know where they all are. I don’t know the exact number either.




I really miss going out as often as I use to. Every time I do, the gust and the rain comes and you really don’t want to be stopping a Londoner in torrential weather. Anyone as a matter of fact. So now I look for every opportunity to meet someone. But today is winter solstice and as my friend put it earlier – “on a happier note, today has the longest night and from tomorrow we head into summer”. Now that’s the most optimistic outlook ever, even for me but it would do…. When I saw this guy, I somehow knew that he’d have an interesting story, I so I asked if I can take his photo.
Ferdinand - I am 22 years old and originally from Paris but moved to London 3 years ago. I studied literature and arts at university and classical piano at the conservatoire. Both of my parents are actors so I come from a very creative background and I've always been passionate about art myself. I am 100% French but I've always been very influenced by British culture. I absolutely adore the English language and humour. I used to listen to the Beatles, the stones, and David Bowie when I was a child. Fascinated by the sounds and melodies and the quirky fashion of course. All these artists inspired me and it translates in the clothes I wear as well. Very east London but I keep a Parisian edge. I went through two different life changing events – When I came out as gay when I was 15 and moving to London when I was 20. I went through a self-discovery and it made me the person I am today. And The journey is definitely not over.




We all got to do what we got to do. I saw Loren standing here with pen and paper trying to get people to sign up for courses. Usually, I would hurry along and not make eye contact but right now, I am in predator mode and want to grab every opportunity I can. While she took my details to pass on to other sales representatives, I took the opportunity to have a quick chat and take her photo. Perfect trade I would say. I did say and she chuckled because she thought I was being clever. Then agreed that it was fair enough. Such is life – there are many ways we can find to give back. It’s not just about taking.
Loren – The spelling of my name is Spanish. Some say I look Hispanic too but I’m not. I’m actually half Jamaican half English. I am a sales representative for this company and just started a couple weeks ago. The target is to get at least ten names and numbers, yours is the eight. I really don’t know what it is going to be like when winter really hits, we’d just have to wait and see



Sometimes, in our pursuit, we have to be predators. I read in a sales article recently that 75%+ of successful calls are from the 6th or 7th contact. I thought what?? It's not in my nature to pester. But I can be the one left empty handed if I don't so it's up to me to choose. Although this project is not work related, it applies. So does it to everything in life. I had a 30 minute window, whilst waiting for someone, to grab a couple photos and meet a couple people - that I did(ok the ratio I just mentioned is irrelevant but the concept is the same as I pushed myself to stop people)!!

Cristian - I am Romanian but came to London recently to work. I work in a kitchen here and enjoy what I do but can't wait to go home in a few weeks. Romanian Christmas is the best!! You actually feel the spirit of Christmas because there's a lot of traditions and the atmosphere is just out of the world. If anyone want to experience Christmas, they should go to Romania




Hanging out with Katya was real fun - we had some good laughs and spoke a lot about photography, my favourite thing. At one point, I think she got fed-up of hearing me going on about shutter speeds and apertures. She did show genuine interest to learn the craft though and I was ever more eager to show her a few tips and tricks. Once again, an amazing story by an amazing individual.
Katya - I studied Photography, Russian, IT & Accountancy at college. I then joined a Microsoft apprenticeship where I was the only girl which was nerve-racking as all the boys already new how to take apart a PC & motherboard. But I'm a determined person and fast learner and was soon at their level. I then went on to work at Random House Publishers. One of the most challenging and enjoyable experience in life is when I went to Australia on my own. I turned 18 and wanted to do something independent and far away. This tested me in ways I didn't think it would. I used invaluable survival skills my mum taught me. That was 5 years ago and I'm still learning from her. I love wakeboarding and secretly really want to compete. If I could do anything right now, that would be sailing. Total peace and serenity; something you don't get working full time in London




Circumstances made me who I am… Every experience that I’ve had, both negative and positive, have moulded the Jerry that I know. I have had accomplishments and failures and I am grateful even for the failures. Saying this, of course depends on our current status in life because when we are going through the trials, it’s difficult to see beyond that. We may even choose a difficult path which may in turn lead to our relevant happiness. This can mean giving up the comfy day job that brings security, to pursue something that rewards peace and content. Rosie reminded me a lot about me, so does a lot of the people that I meet. She left her comfort in the UK to travel for three months to the US to explore and discover more of herself.
Rosie – I have just returned to the UK after travelling to America for 3 months where I couch surfed and lived really basic. I’ve changed so much in those three months and now I think I am more open minded and allow myself to take greater risks(within reason). I studied English Literature in college and there was a festival for one of my favourite novelist and poet, Jack Kerouac(@jack__kerouac) in Massachusetts and this is one of the main reasons I went to the States. It’s actually funny because your name sound similar to one of Jack’s friends Gary Snyder(who is fictionalised in one of his books as Japhy Ryder). I met so many wonderful people on my trip and learnt how connecting with people is so important




I have always admired the knowledge and wisdom of elderly people. A good friend of mine @suetmoss actually said she prefer hanging out with older people because she get along well with them. Now I don’t want to objectify elderly people but in spite of my acknowledgement of their wisdom, you won’t necessarily see me hanging out with someone that is 78 years old. That’s just because I didn’t think I will get along well. Sometimes, maybe, we must try and put our own perceptions behind us. I have been speaking a lot about limits and limitations recently and this is just another; when we perceive and stereotype without any sort of justification, thus limiting ourselves from new experiences. Well, all I can say is I’m glad I stopped because I had one of the best conversations I’ve had in forever.
Chris – I am 78 years old, going on 79 soon. My full name is Christoffer; the spelling is Dutch as I am originally white South African but have lived over 50 years in this country. I came initially to join the Royal Navy but didn’t – I just got into other jobs and I’m now retired. One thing I sort of regret is retiring when I did. What I would say to anyone is work as long as your body can handle it. When you stop working, your brain becomes inactive and everything around slows down. I am still very abled though, because I look after my body by eating well and exercising often. Also, you must chew your food properly…




It helps when I do things differently, sometimes it’s the only way. I find actually, in most cases when I’ve broken my own rules and stepped outside of the box, I gain even more rewarding things. Now I am the biggest procrastinator I know – I wish there was a cure for it. There are many times I leave home with my camera and come back home with nothing because I’ve found a million excuses “not to”. So yesterday when I visited Ealing, London, I started with the excuses as soon as I got off the bus; “ok I’ve not stopped people in this area before so I need to warm into it i.e. its OK if I go home without engaging with anyone”. However, walking up the high street I saw this guy and made a momentary decision to break the rules. 1. He was walking steadily heading somewhere 2. He had his earphones plugged in and I still decided to stop him to have a chat.
Mo(@momoassaad) – I am not from this area but my friend lives just up the road there. I am a Freelance Filmmaker and have been for the past 3 years. I am originally from Egypt but have travelled a lot and grew up here where I studied. I still travel all over to film documentaries and work on various projects. My dad is actually a Filmmaker himself and has his own business in Dubai




Although it’s very grim right now in London and the UK, there are still pleasant faces around. Well, to be fair this was the first sunny and pleasant day we’d experience in a while. It was last Wednesday and I was walking on the #Southbank on the river Thames and just enjoying the atmosphere when I ran into this guy, who was also pleasant and a really cool chap. We chatted a bit and I told him about the rejection I had just moments away. He was surprised because he said he does it a lot – chat to random strangers. Teagan shared some insights about his job, where he works and some of his interests.
Teagan – I work in Saudi Arabia as a teacher. I love travelling and some of my favourite places that I’ve been to are in Asia like Thailand, Singapore etc. I do get “the look” a lot when I’m going through customs because of my beard. It’s very restrictive where I work; because it’s a Muslim state, I don’t drink or go out much so when I go on holiday, I make the most of it. Sometimes I am taken back in classes, when one of the students have a picture on their phone of someone we’re terrified of in the Western world. They actually praise some of them but I just stay quite when the banter starts. I love my job and I don’t get to do much outside of work, because there is no television or cable so I go for long runs




Poverty is everywhere – we see it all around us and we hear about it too. With the hundreds of campaigns and charities about, we can’t help but be aware. But with influence by peers and the media, as with most things, we tend to build preconceptions; instead of focusing on the good that is being done, we steer our focus on negative possibilities of charity organisations being a money making venture. And, that the heads of some of these organisations take the money and put it in their own pockets. These are some of the things me and David spoke about, before I was given a tour in a makeshift tent(home for some) that replicates the abode of thousands living in poverty stricken countries. The way I see it is, there is both good and bad in everything and we all have a choice in where we place our focus.
David – I enjoy working here at @WorldVisionUK. I love the fact that I am doing a job that enables me to help people, regardless of the country they live in. By working here, I get to see for myself, where the money goes to and the people that we are truly helping. I have been married for 5years now with 3 lovely sons. I am training to be a Vicar at the moment




Failure and rejection: It’s all very easy sometimes to say don’t “give up”, “keep trying”; Those words are powerful but all too cliché if we don’t put context around them. It’s easier said than done, like most things in life, and yesterday I was faced with one of those situations I get asked about a lot - “Do people ever say no/are you ever rejected?”. I walked up to a guy who was on his phone and enjoying a hot drink. I said hi and he asked “what do you want, I don’t know you”. I introduced myself and told him about my project and he said he’s not interested. Now this, believe it or not, doesn’t happen often – maybe 3 times in total. My initial feeling was, distraught! I immediately had to pick myself up and carry on – either that or go home with nothing. I didn’t give up though but this strength was developed only by doing this several times. So maybe that’s the moral of the story here. And this is one of the few images I got after that “rejection”

Martin – I am an IT professional, well that’s my day job really. I enjoy reading books. I usually just come here and have a look at an interesting title and take it from there. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read, too many




It's really something, that(especially in London) the person living just next door to you, can be an actor, singer, achieved something great or in contrast, dying and you won't know. There's ALOT happening on our doorstep and we just go about. I've been going to this shop for about a year and having random chats. It's only when I asked, "tell me a bit more", I discovered amazingly interesting things about Singh.
Singh - I was born and grew up in Mumbai, India. Back when I was in college I played baseball and was on the official college team, I was really good. I am also very good at Snooker - I love the game. I can play all day without even eating. I came to London 8 years ago. I came because at the time, everyone back home was leaving. It was almost like the thing to do. Whenever you asked someone what they want to do, it would be to go abroad.




I tend to just do my own thing most times, unless a client have specific requests of course! But I am really enjoying this 5 day challenge as it’s causing me to push my creativity within the confines of black and white! Today’s photo is of a person with one of the biggest hearts in the world!
Veronika – I’m originally from the Czech Republic. I came to London 8 years ago – after 5 years, I decided to make my dream come through and travel across New Zealand where I spent a year and a half backpacking. It was the best experience of my life. I then came back to London last year and currently working at a hair salon. I have been living an awesome life I think and I enjoy every moment I’m awake. I have no regrets in my life but I do miss my family, horse and dog back home. Music is my biggest companion and I love to sing and play the guitar.




The world is such a big place, yet small as they say. On the day I met this model, Barbara, I had no idea that as we were speaking, bombings and shootings of innocent people were taking place in the country where she is from. Isn’t it something really, that while we are having a good time in one place and enjoying laughter, someone can be crying and grieving in another. Of course there is nothing we can physically do, or that there is anything wrong in having a good time.. just saying! My heart, light and peace do go out to people that are suffering however; to Barbara’s friends and family, to mine and to others, Peace and Love be on to you.
Barbara(@barbara.cermolacce) – I am a model. I really enjoy modelling but what I would love to do one day is open a bar for creatives; like tattoo artists, painters, photographers etc to just come and interact and inspire each other




It’s now cold, windy and typically miserable in London. That’s created some challenges for me. Not that I mind going out in the cold to take pictures and chat to people but they may mind a stranger stopping them in the freezing cold to chat. Unless they come to you of course; while I was stood with my friend chatting, this guy walked up to us. Although I had my camera in my bag, I had no plans to engage with anyone because it was, cold and dark and I’d simply given up. It was only while chatting to him, I thought why not ask him to take his photo. It is easy to miss what’s right in front of us at times. As much as I am trying to open up my eyes and see, being human means that our vision can get skewed by what we are too focused on, thus missing the little treasures in front our eyes.
Jide – My name is Jide(pronounced Jee-day) I live in London Victoria. Born and raised in London but from Nigerian parents. I am not working at the moment, I just sell stuff to get by


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