Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sea defences and longevity

click photo to enlarge
From September I shall become a gentleman of leisure. Let me immediately dispel any false notions of what that might imply by saying that I'm taking early retirement! The time that will be mine, once I've finished with the day job, is what I relish most of all. However, the decision to retire has, unexpectedly, made me consider more deeply my own mortality, and particularly my likely longevity!

It's human nature to periodically consider how long you're likely to live, and to think about your own future. I remember, at the age of 10, working out how old I would be in the year 2000. Now I find myself calculating how much longer I'm likely to last! It's the prospect of retirement that has, unexpectedly, brought this thought to the forefront of my mind. I suppose the everyday concerns of raising a family, and pursuing a demanding career have previously pushed such thinking into the background.

These observations were again in my head whilst I was taking the photograph above. It shows the renewal of the sea-wall at Cleveleys, Lancashire. The old concrete sea defences dated from the 1930s. They are being replaced by large sections of steps, like the one on the lorry trailer, which are carefully swung into place and locked together using the ingenious sockets and studs moulded into the concrete. Seeing this made me wonder about the envisaged longevity of the original defences. I imagine the engineers thought they would survive more than 70 years. How long will these new ones endure? Who knows, but they will surely outlast me!

The photograph was taken on a clear and sultry evening, after work had stopped, with the sun heading down into the western sea. The bright, new smoothness of the concrete appealed to me, and the position of the very large crane seemed an obvious focal point on which the lines of the steps could converge. I included the nearby lorry in a key section of the frame, for the additional visual interest, because its load explains the construction, and because it is another pointer to the distant crane. A 28mm (35 mm equivalent) lens was used, and I converted the shot to black and white with a fairly high level of contrast.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen