Young Sloan in Yorkshire, 1996

Young Sloan in Yorkshire, 1996
Originally uploaded by wrysloan.

I lived in Northern England a decade ago.

It’s hard to believe, really. Just this kid stumbling through the Moors and Highlands, discovering imperial pints and hand-carved snugs and Cromwell’s fallen arches.

And apparently I had very curly hair. This was taken by my friend Bart near the old monastery. He and I had the same old Pentax – I’ve got mine around my neck there, leather strap outward to hide the side with my father’s mid-80’s technicolor. You know the strap, you had it too.

We used to take photo expeditions through the city with long lenses catching people on the sly. Unposed portaits, especially audiences watching street buskers.

Later that summer, Bart and I traveled to Siena, Italy for the Palio races. Not lank, brooding Yorkshire by any stretch. We stand in the center of the piazza, fever-heat rolling off the thousands anxious to have their contrada’s rider be the winner. Bart supports the guy with the hedgehog on his kerchief; I pull for the rhinoceros and beobab. Once, twice around the track and only a third are still riding – others have been yanked off.

Third, fourth, the crowd around us screaming, pushing, hands in the air, Bart’s bellowing, “Come ON, damn you.” The horseman in the lead, the hedgehog, is nearly there and the second place man reaches forward and grabs him by the shirt and yanks him from his horse and the third-place rider wins and the crowd falls to ground around us, a high moan cutting up. Clutching at their hair. Crying. Wringing their hedgehog bandanas. I take off my rhino/beobab gingerly and dig for my camera instead.

And then we run for it.

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