For about three weeks in 1999 I worked for an English marketing company. The job involved driving to various different parts of the UK, wearing a prawn coloured tracksuit, and giving out sample packets of “NEW Prawn Cocktail Flavoured Potato Chips (suitable for vegetarians)”. We trundled around in small trucks, stayed in cheap hotels, and stood on street corners trying not to feel self-conscious.
Ollie, one of my co-workers, was from West London. He was a young man and like all young men, myself included, often he looked out at the world through a tribal lens. Although the odd thing about Ollie was that he only really became a West London geezer once we were some distance from London. The further we got the worse it became. When we gave out our wares in Hammersmith he would talk about backpacking in India and Eastern Religion. When we were in Liverpool he would try and pick fights with the “Scousers”.
One evening, while we were still pretty close to the M25, rattling along in our half empty truck, he confided in me.
“You know Terence…I like sunsets.” While he spoke the fields around us were turning orange as the sun’s light found itself bent and broken by the smoggy sky. “I mean it’s a cliché an all that but I really do like a good sunset.”
I remembered his words this morning as I stood in the half-light looking out over the glassy tropical sea. As I stood there the sun began its climb into the sky, it’s light catching the different layers of clouds one after another. Blood red, then bronze-orange, then yellow-gold.
Ollie was right: sunsets, and sunrises, are clichés. Serious photographers avoid them. Writers pass them by. There’s no point. Everything that could possibly be said about the colours and patterns of the beginning and end of the day has already been said. And every good image already captured.
And yet, I like sunsets too. And sunrises. There may be nothing left to say, but it’s all still there to be seen.
This morning was so calm. The menaces of the night in White River being dispelled by the dawn. The temperature comfortable, the sun not yet strong enough to bring smothering tropical heat. On the horizon islands, the Gellas and Savo, took their shapes. And above it all colours burnt patterns through the clouds.
If only all clichés were that serene.