chapter  18
9 Pages


The final phase of my ongoing identity crisis happened when I was 46 years old. I finally got my act together, took my intellectual ‘chip on the shoulder’ and enrolled at the Polytechnic of Central London to do a degree in the theory and practice of photography. By that time I had already been a professional photographer for nearly twenty years, but nobody seemed to be very interested in that, or in my political achievements within photography. Within weeks of the term beginning I was already filled with shame of what I didn’t know, what I lacked. This has never fully gone away

in spite of all the work I have done since. In this respect, I come from a background where, within state education, I was systematically treated as if I was stupid. Even if, rationally, I knew that to be untrue, nonetheless I persisted in my irrational belief that because that was the way I was treated, it must be true. Entering higher education for working-class people is problematic if it does not address the realities of our lives, or the ways in which our particular subjectivities were formed…. In view of my early experience it is hardly surprising that the area of cultural practice to which my work relates is most usefully described as ‘unofficial storytelling’—both in the sense of lying and of narrating….