One Eye, Two Queens

The image of Elizabeth Windsor on the cover of a large and understated coffee-table book in a smart, slick hotel opposite the eye hospital caught my eyes. Both the left one that was about to be sliced into by a surgeon for the cataract operation in the slightly crumbling building opposite, and the fully functional right eye. 
The book felt out of place in a hotel that seems to be going for an effortlessly cool, sophisticated urban vibe, fitting to its setting in the heart of Shoreditch, the capital of don’t-give-a-fuck cool east-London.
Right next to it was another photography coffee-table book London Rock – The Unseen Archive, showcasing work by Alec Byrne. I decided to pick up both and take them back to our table to flick through. 
Aretha Franklin looking out warmly, gently and powerfully in her leopard-print coat reminded me of the religious experience I was blessed with, watching Amazing Grace, a couple of years before. 
It made a stark contrast to the highly staged profile pics of Elizabeth and Philip Windsor who are refining their roles as superior, distant and cold. 
Contrasts like this fuel my creative process, and it’s fitting that I took photos of products of the institutions that which I most love and loathe about British society just before heading into Moorfields eye hospital to get my troubled left eye fixed. 
Moorfields was transformed into a teaching hospital after the NHS was formed after the second world war. A war battered population wanted to put an end to the brutal inequalities in health treatment that existed under a private and voluntary funded system that left all but the wealthiest without reliable healthcare.
Less than a week after the operation, the vision out of my left eye is already far clearer than it has been for years. I’m very grateful for the excellent treatment and kind, efficient, expert care that I’ve received from the NHS. 
As long as the royal family (which only uses the NHS as a last resort when private healthcare cannot be relied on to do what’s needed) is seen by the powers that be as the pinnacle of society, institutions such as the NHS and state education will always be under mortal threat. Time to find some new Aretha Franklins I feel.