Perfect Blue
Kona Macphee
 
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Commentary: Addiction

I lived in Cambridge for about eleven years. Before I moved there in 1995, I'd only seen the airbrushed version of the town that's presented in glossy calendar photography - perfect pinstriped lawns, verdant gardens, grand and ancient buildings. It's only when you arrive that you realise most of these attractive prospects are sealed away behind those oh-so-picturesque high stone walls of the colleges.

Out of the central college-and-tourist zone, there are some wondrously ugly sights in Cambridge, from hideous and poorly maintained 60s office-blocks to rubbish-choked waterways and rat colonies down by the public wading pool. I wish now that I'd followed up on my half-formed idea to produce a Cambridge Anti-Calendar, featuring all the ugliest Cambridge locations I could photograph.

When I lived in Cambridge, one particularly grim location was the fetid toilet block at the Drummer Street Bus Station. Within its doorless quasi-cellblock, it was cold, wet, muddy, dark and reeking - and a favoured place to shoot up (presumably the least-bad of a set of very bad options).

I've heard it said that writers tend to have addictive personalities. I've never been addicted to any drug stronger than tobacco, but there have certainly been times in the past when I could have been; when I would gladly have "stuck a spike into my vein", had one been available, just to make everything go away for a while.

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