“Scratch” is the creation of Greg and Angie Wilton: he is the chef, she is the business powerhouse. Greg describes it as: “a bit of a dream really; it was something I always wanted to do: open my own bakery - patisserie; either that or buy an old one and do it up”.
Joe is talented, good-looking and committed; when he performs, his connection with the public is immediate and effortless. Women – especially – are spellbound and almost mechanically pull out their mobile phone and start filming him. The romantic theme of his music might help cast the spell: all of his songs are about love. He says he wrote one about being hung-over once but even that could be classed as a borderline love song. Whatever it is that makes him so appealing, it is working: he has 10,000 Facebook fans and when he mentioned an upcoming trip to Europe he was asked to perform (and offered a couch) in most of that continent’s cities.
When I enter the store, Elliot is sitting by the window making “God’s eyes” while a couple of his friends are reading and chatting on the next bench; the record player entertains them all spinning an old tune. The room is shady and aromatic with incense, I look around and the lavish décor hits me: ceiling collages, wall murals, bookshelves, rugs, sofas, framed pictures, art installations and an eclectic collection of objects from another era transforms this space into something quite unexpected and it is hard to take it all in at once.
Having embarked upon Lama Shenpen’s long distance course Discovering the Heart of Buddhism, I became intrigued by this English woman who became a learned scholar and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism in the Kagyu tradition, who has founded a hermitage in North Wales, built a Sangha (religious community) and designed a deceptively simple, profound and deeply stirring course to guide others in their spiritual quest. What bit her? I wondered. So I asked whether I could interview her and quench my curiosity. The result was an inspiring long distance phone conversation that retraced some of the key turning points in Lama Shenpen’s path.
My wife picked Nano out of the 61 gigs at the 2009 Mullumbimby Music Festival. We were going through the program judging performers by their portraits. I glanced at his free flowing “Joanne D’Arc” hairdo and flicked the page while she noticed his grin and picked him as the most openhearted artist on the program. She was right.
“Do you mind looking ugly?” is an unsettling question coming from anyone pointing a camera at you; it is positively discouraging when the photographer in question specializes in beauty. I make a mental note to cross out modeling from the list of careers I might try when my mid-life crisis hits in earnest and then pose for Alex, who wants to test how my camera renders skin tones.