Wednesday, July 22, 2009

sir nicholas henderson...

Sir Nicholas Henderson
1 April 1919 – 16 March 2009
"Henderson was a toweringly handsome man of enormous charm and affections.
His throwaway manner disguised a rapier-sharp mind.
He was a Scarlet Pimpernel among ambassadors,
a romantic hero with an extraordinary quality of coolness.
Nothing ruffled his good-humoured urbanity,
his glamorous, deeply English style."

photograph taken on an august day.
once upon a time. in london. the café rouge.

every now and then, you meet strangers along the way.

you speak, without the use of language.

simply an understanding,

a knowing smile.

a mutual sympathy.

and that was my moment

of having met

sir nicholas henderson.

over the years,

this is a photograph that i have treasured

that always brought a quiet smile upon my face.

and with each and every time i looked back at this photo,

i found myself remembering.

and seeing that moment. being in that moment

once again.

we were sitting in the café rouge. knightsbridge.

claudia and i were slowly on our way back to the airport,

after a weekend together for one of our

"let's meet in the middle of the world" weekends.

and there was such an energy in the place,

the energy of all the people and all the strangers.

and it was a good energy.

it felt like there were so many stories wanting to be told

if you just took a moment to look. to watch.

and in that sense,

to listen

with eyes. and with heart.

it's when you listen not to what you simply hear,

but to what you feel.

and i needed to capture a few of these moments,

these listenings and these feelings.

i needed to. and i wanted to.

and that's when this man walked in

and took place just a few tables away.

an older man. a gentleman.

he had such a grace about him. an elegance.

something so striking and so intriguing.

there was something friendly. and sincere.

something genuine.

his presence was something gentle.

and even with the years his face held or the white of his hair,

there was something boyish about him. almost playful.

and i could sense, there were so many stories he could tell

and so many stories he could share.

and i had this longing to listen.

to be taken on a little journey with the stories.

there are times i can be timid with the camera.

unsure and uncertain if i'm allowed to invite myself into a moment

that doesn't belong to me.

respect. boundaries.

but on this particular day,

i think there was a courage. or many just an intuition.

or simply something you emanate. radiate.

and the world opens its doors to you.

it opens its eyes to you.

and its heart.

i still remember that moment that i took the camera in the hand,

i know i had a smile on my face.,

and i know that i didn't look thru the lens,

but i simply held the camera. and i simply looked at him.

and that's when i realised,

he allowed me to watch. he allowed me to wonder.

he allowed me into his moment.

and he had a smile on his face too.

i felt i had to speak with him,

simply to let him know,

that this wasn't just a photograph taken

for the sake of a photograph,

but rather because i was captivated,

and because i felt there was such an aura about him.

and i told him, i would like to send him this photograph too.

he smiled at me again,

shook my hand and said he was fascinated as well.

the way i looked at him with sincerity and a curiousity.

and that he could tell i was someone that took life and people

and that what surrounds me,

with a sensitivity and an awareness.

and that is a rare virtue. something to be valued.

and then he said,

"hello. my name is nicholas."

he asked me if i had a piece of paper and a pen.

i went back to the table to get my purse

and pulled out a book.

i always have a book.

to simply write thoughts. write moments.

to write little manifestations throughout the day.

and then he wrote down his name. his address.

and he smiled again and said

"i look forward to seeing that photograph."

at that moment, i only took a quick glance

at the letters and the words he had written.

i thanked him and wished him a wonderful day.

it wasn't until i got home that evening that i pulled out my book.

sir nicholas henderson.

that was his name.

i think i felt a bit more of the familiarity in that moment.

and of course i had to google.

oh for the love of google.

and that's when i found another smile on my face.

as a child growing up,

i was fortunate enough to have teachers that left their impact on my life.

grade two and mrs. moritz. she was one of those teachers.

she taught me about honesty. integrity.

and awoke an interest in politics.

i think it was in grade two

that i fell in love with pierre elliot trudeau.

and to this day,

i find him to be one of the most passionate and powerful,

literally liberating politicians there ever was.

he too had a grace. an elegance. and yet his unconventionality.

and always his red rose that he wore on his lapel.

and although i was in grade six

when the falkland islands crisis came to be,

it was something that i followed and was so very aware of.

it made me question more about politics, about relations.

and i remember going back to mrs. moritz

and holding conversations.

wanting to learn. wanting to understand.

pretty heavy when you're in grade six

and everything else that really mattered those days,

was who was the most favourite girl in the class

or playing joan jett and the black hearts again and again and again.

or falling in love with simon le bon.

i was eleven and hello. welcome puberty. and growing breasts.

or reading judy blume books.

does anyone remember "ralph"?

and then there was the falkland islands.

and to this day,

i base many of my own personal thoughts and theories

of a very strange british and american political relationship

and what i consider,

apparent silent vows to back then.

yes. rewind time. 1982. the falkland islands.

and that's when i realised,

i knew the name.

sir nicholas henderson.

he built relations. and he built ships.

and then he built bridges.

relationship bridges.

it's been a while since i held this photograph in my hand.

it's been a while since i held that piece of paper in my hand.

and tonight for some reason,

i had to pull it out of a box

and out of a frame.

and then i suddenly had a regret.

because i never sent that photograph after all.

so maybe what i want to say,

is thank you for that smile.

and thank you for that moment.

simply because...

every now and then, you meet strangers along the way.

you speak, without the use of language.

simply an understanding,

a knowing smile.

a mutual sympathy.

but they make a difference

and they become a part of your life.

and the stories you write in your life.

and the stories you share in your life.

sir nicholas henderson.

1 comment:

susanna said...

Reading your posts is always such a treat, Angela. You write so.beautifully. I admit that I had to look up Sir Nicholas Henderson online...and it was worth it. Did you know that when he was posted in the British Embassy in Warsaw, he bit the Polish cleaning lady who he caught rummaging through his confidential files?! She had to get painful rabies shots. That'll teach those would-be spies! Hah! He certainly was a character.

And your photograph of him is sooooo good. One day I would like to hire you to take my photograph. There's such a cinematic quality to your images, Angela. They tell stories.