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Lockdown in Stepford

It was the year 1999, and my wife, our two boys and myself were living in a very rural part of Co. Durham, where we had lived for the previous two and a half years. It was during that year that my wife told me how she was missing life back on the Wirral, she was particularly missing her friends and family. So after a bit of argy-bargy with my works management, it became possible to move back to the Wirral while I more or less kept my same job.

After selling up and loading up the Bishops Move vans we eventually arrived back on the Wirral, and moved in to a normal family house in Heswall Hills, just down the road from where E. Chambré Hardman the notable photographer of Liverpool had once lived.

Although our own situation was not in any way what you would call posh, we did start to notice in the area a number of swanky cars and particularly well dressed people, as well as the the number of doctors, lawyers and other professionals that were picking up children at the local school. Growing up in a good old working class, salt of the earth type area of Liverpool, this environment did feel slightly alien to me.

It wasn’t long before I noted to my wife that living there felt a bit like living in Stepford, of the Stepford Wives fame (1975 movie version of course!) My wife and I have often laughed about that over the years whenever we encountered that type of behaviour, with perfectly ordered but scary lives. I frequently relate to Joanna Eberhart the Nikon F touting photographer and focus of the movie, feeling a bit of an outsider in my own neighbourhood and simultaneously drawn back to my old haunts.

Brian

I am sorry for this meandering introduction, but I think it helps to set the scene, for when lockdown hit us on 23rd March 2020. Having a dog -Brian a larger than normal dachshund- meant me and him regularly walked the local area, so come lockdown this part of my life did not change, but I did start taking a camera loaded with Lomo films with me in addition to the usual mobile. Recording the area in lockdown as we walked. Unexpectedly, but perhaps not surprisingly, there were actually more people on the pavement than normal, people just taking the opportunity to stretch their legs and keep the kids from going crackers. I still had plenty of opportunity to capture the unusual lack of traffic on the roads though, and just maybe convey that unusual quiet. It was this quiet that somehow amplified that Stepford feeling to me, the quiet reminding me that I was trapped, hemmed in, not able to visit my usual favoured places over in Liverpool, even the local beach was out of reach, Brian’s little legs couldn’t quite stretch that far, certainly not in our allotted 1hr time for exercise.

So here are a selection of the photographs I took, do let me know if you pick up on any of what I was feeling, unless you’re a robot of course 😉