Stan, is a 72 year old retired bachelor that splits his time between a residence in Finchley, North London and his townhouse on the Costa Blanca, Spain. Born in the Cheapside area of East London, within earshot of the Bow Bells, tradition would label Stan as a “thorough-bred” Cockney. A community he takes great pride in being a part of.
The series, was initially meant to be an exploration of the aforementioned Cockney, – and the culture that created him – then I quickly learned that Stan’s strange character and relaxed lifestyle were of much more interest on a personal level; a living parody, a caricature of the retired cockney gangster; sunning it up half of the bloody year in Spain, then digging into a cheeky Pie and Mash at Manzies of Chapel Market twice a week for the bleedin’ other half. It is as if he walked directly off the pages of an early Guy Ritchie script.
A youthful and energetic mind found within an elderly body, whilst considering himself a “bit of a face”, Stan is a truly eccentric character – with hours, if not days, of stories to recite. Some about his Uncle Charlie – creator of the Islington black market during WW2 – or, my personal favourite; the time he stole the ornament off David Bailey’s Bentley… twice. Whatever the story, and no matter how many times you’ve already heard it, they’re always told with a theatrical fervour. As Hunter S Thompson once said of Raoul Duke’s Samoan lawyer and equally applicable to the protagonist of this series – especially upon learning of his 4 heart attacks in the space of one week – “One of god’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind, never considered for mass production. Too weird too live, and too rare to die”
Having spent a year sporadically photographing Stan in the grey and grubby streets of East and North London, I was invited to head over to Spain and spend time with him in much warmer and sunnier pastures; a fun and at times tiresome endeavour. It was a documentary-led task that culminated in us spending two weeks together in a small village living in his slightly cramped town house, often both drunkenly debating the EU referendum for hours at a time.
I soon learnt that, like his political views, Stan’s daily routine was/is incredibly rigid. It consisted of lazing around the house or catching up with chores until 11am, followed by a three-hour trip to the local community swimming pool where he would lightly swim, attempt to speak with the locals in broken Anglo-Spanish, drink exactly three coffees and return home for a mid-afternoon siesta. He would then rise early evening and head out to the local bars and restaurants and stumble home around midnight. This routine was unbroken for the entirety of the 14 days I spent with him.
The resulting imagery is a candid insight into the lifestyle of Cockney “Stan”:
POSTED BY: @JOSHUATGIBBONS