Bearing in mind my memory seems to be fading – or dying completely – I’ve been wishing lately we’d taken more photographs over the past 30-odd years.
It seems there are rather long gaps between events, if you go by the lack of action in the family album. On one page someone’s a baby – on the next they’re cutting a cake at their 21st. You’d think we’d all gone into hibernation for long periods of time in between photo opportunities. Maybe we should have, judging by the amount of stuff which obviously wasn’t worth documenting.
Anyway, I was rather pleased with myself on recent holidays, because I actually managed to dash off a couple of quick rolls. Rather nonchalantly, I thought. There are the ones I took in the mist, the ones I took in the dark – and some mighty fine efforts which give breathtaking views of the inside of the lens cover.
These little gems pale into insignificance when you take into account the cinematic brilliance of our first effort, when the Rt Honourables were small and we thought it might be a nice idea to record important things like birthdays, etc. We had one particular film in the camera for years. It had five birthdays, a couple of Christmases and a christening on it. There were still a couple of shots left the day we went to Luna Park. Seeing as the Rt Hons were having such a brilliant time, we decided to splurge on a new film, which meant taking the old one out and replacing it. Not the best idea we’d had that day, if you don’t count the accident with the Dagwood Dog.
The Hunter Gatherer took the last shot, wound the little handle to rewind the film and popped open the back. Two long, thin black streamers came cascading out – ‘surprise!’ – a bit like a gothic party popper, if you really want to know.
There went three or four years of photographic genius, bearing in mind the film was totally ripped in half – down the middle. Which would have been no mean feat had he done it on purpose.
For a long time after that we were very disillusioned. The HG has refused to touch a camera since, so it’s been up to me. And I can’t understand why, when everything looks okay through the lens, you end up with a family of amputees and leering idiots who look like victims of cosmetic surgery malpractice cases.
One member of the family – on the HG’s side – does even better. Her specialty is ‘spontaneous’ shots at barbeques, where the surprised participant is caught with cigarette in one hand, beer can in the other and views of half-chewed, flyblown chop bones on a dirty plate in front of them. We got into the habit of cutting the unpalatable bits off, so pages in our album have tiny little circular pieces dotted all over them, giving legitimacy to the term ‘thumbnail sketch’.
I remember being told once to take photos with people and/or signposts in them. This is to make the pictures more interesting and gives a point of reference. This accounts for some very odd views of complete strangers standing in front of such gems as ‘Welcome to Wagga Wagga’, and ‘Danglewillee – Home of the Giant Choko’. I can’t for the life of me remember the giant choko – but it’s impossible to wipe from memory the frenzied look on that man’s face just before he dived into a clump of noxious weed at the side of the road and nearly emasculated himself on an electric fence. Which would have served him right. If he hadn’t had his raincoat open in the first place, he wouldn’t have attracted undue attention.
There’s still half a film in my camera, and I’m looking forward to finishing it and seeing what the rest of my holiday looks like. Reminiscing is pretty good. Sometimes it can bring back those halcyon days before you ‘let yourself go’.
Ah … last night I dreamed I went to Danglewillee again …