A13- Trunk Road To The Sea

Forget Route 66: the proximity of the mythical A13 to the UEL campus, combined with a “working knowledge” of Stephen Shore’s images of ‘ordinary’ America suggested that the road beckoned. At least 20 years had elapsed since reading Robert M Pirsig’s “Zen & The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance” too, but I knew all the moves… It was my destiny to document the A13. Immortalised in song by Billy Bragg, his prose too is sublime. The A13 is  “…the main drag out to the Promised Land of the Goldmine Discotheque on Canvey Island, caravan capital of the world. This was the route to the Kursaal at Southend and a plate of cockles or a cup of whelks. This was the Magical Mystery road to the sea, to the Kiss-Me-Quick Never Never Land that is forever the Essex Coast”.

The reality however was somewhat different…

Having decided before setting off that the ‘rule’ was that whatever I photographed had to be visible from the road, with no detours allowed, it dawned on me that there’s one hell of a lot of dual carriage-way with no obvious stopping places, several lay by’s from which to photograph fast moving articulated lorries, and the occasional glimpse of rural Essex, until  the outskirts of Southend. ( I could have broken my ‘rule’ by taking a slip road to Ford’s at Dagenham, but …like the protagonist of Pirsig’s book, there has to be a code, a way…)

Two passes of the A13 and an important lesson had been learned. The idea is all well and good, but without time and a strategy, it is nothing. Anyway, see below for couple of less than inspiring photos of the road in question…

A13: Trunk Road To The Sea (c)John Callaway 2009

A13: Trunk Road To The Sea (c) John Callaway 2009

More Haste, Less Speed. (c) John Callaway 2009

More Haste, Less Speed. (c) John Callaway 2009

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