The Bravest Beagle

This is Vinnie, the Beagle. I met Vinnie and his owner at Skylarks Nature Reserve. When they walked along behind us, Vinnie shied away from Jan’s mobility scooter and I commented that dogs often did that. But the real explanation was actually heart-breaking. Vinnie had spent the first three years of his life in a laboratory in France and been with his new owner for just a month. When I bent down to stroke him, he flinched, and any movement, however small, had the same effect. Eventually, after nearly a quarter of an hour’s conversation, he approached me and had a good old sniff, although I still wasn’t allowed to pet him. Vinnie had to be carried back to his owner’s car because nothing would coax him to walk past the scooter. At all times, his owner talked to him in a slow, calm voice and said Vinnie was getting better all the time but it would be a long job. I consider myself a tough old bird, but I shed tears for that dog. I have never given much thought to ‘animal rights’ but you can be sure I will do in the future … and more than just think about it. I hope to meet Vinnie again and see him grow in confidence and courage.

First-ever Talk

Posted on September 15, 2018

I gave my first-ever talk about my photographs at Keyworth Camera Club this week. It was a good evening – I was made welcome by a crowd of friendly people, who gave me the following review. I am still smiling at the memory.

September 13th saw Jacqui Jay Grafton EFIAP/s DPAGB BPE5* give us her presentation New Tricks and it proved to be fascinating, educational and inspiring. Jacqui’s images covered fantasy images of unreal scenes that captured the imagination with their beauty and creativeness, the techniques behind some of them involving many hours of dedication to piece them together. Other pictures were classed as photo-realistic – montages that are much subtler and have the look of a straight photograph, and those that were as taken. Nearly all of Jacqui’s pictures featured people, some being professional models, others being members of her long suffering/eager to pose family.

Jacqui gave her talk in an easy to understand manner, was open to questions, and had us all laughing many times with her exploits with models that couldn’t speak English, ripping duck-tape off a naked man and of what other people have thought of her work. Our packed audience appreciated the work that had gone into Jacqui’s images and all have taken away some new tricks that can be applied to their own work. Thank you, Jacqui, for giving us a very entertaining evening supported by wonderful imagery.

Penance

Posted on April 27, 2018

This is Mason, a toughie on the football field and confident enough to pose naked, knowing the finished photographs would be exhibited internationally. My aim was to create a loose interpretation of Atlas, bearing the world on his shoulders. So far so good.

To spare my female blushes, his fiancee was on hand to make sure no dangly bits would intrude into the picture. After much discussion, while I waited with my back turned, I heard the words, “duct tape” and “Nooooo!”.
Well, yes, the duct tape was used and there were muted screams (of pain) and a few tears (of laughter) but said dangly bits were neatly tucked away and the photographs were taken. So far, Penance – as it was eventually named – has won a couple of awards, so I think it was worth all the anguish.

Not quite sure what Mason would say, though.

Small Things

Two things happened to me a little while ago.
One was quite a small thing by usual standards, but it was rather lovely.
The second thing was quite major and upsetting.
I let the major thing dominate my mind.
And it grew …
The same morning, we were diverted from the scene of an accident where a woman died.
And I thought, “You’re 71, you might live to 100, you might not.”
Life can be short, tempus fugit and all that.
So I put the major thing into a box and tucked it at the back of my mind.
(It fitted quite well) and time will resolve it one way or another.
And I let the lovely thing grow instead.
And, you know what, it’s not such a small thing after all.
It continues to bring me pleasure, just like this Mother of Pearl Moth …

Lunch with Albert

When I first began to forget the names of things (apparently the first thing to go is proper nouns) I swore I would never resort to ‘whatchamacallit’ and ‘thingymajig’; even if it meant a pause in the conversation, I would just wait until the word came. That worked for a while and then the next stage appeared – the word would come to mind but the tongue wouldn’t spit it out and the pauses got longer while mind and tongue had a little domestic to see who would win. Now, sometimes the name of a person doesn’t come at all and I have to admit defeat and move on, only for the elusive name to pop up when I’m talking about something entirely different.

I was talking about books recently, while having lunch with Albert, and he was describing a biography just published in Spanish about an Irish hero / activist (history hasn’t made its mind up which he is yet) from the time of the Easter uprising in 1921. Both of us knew exactly who he was talking about and could regurgitate clues – he was hanged, his first name was Roger etc. – but we couldn’t tell each other what his name was. So we were in the strange position of having a complete conversation about someone without once mentioning his name. We eventually moved on to talk about other things and, in the middle of discussing the pros and cons of the present Government, I suddenly banged the table in triumph and shouted “Casement!”. The cutlery jumped in the air, the wine glasses rocked (oh yes, there was wine) and everyone in the restaurant turned to stare, while a waiter rushed over to see if everything was all right with Sir and Madam.

It was a bit like the Meg Ryan moment in When Harry met Sally.

Only non-sexual.

And geriatric.

War Photographer for a Day

Posted on August 14, 2015

With an afternoon to spare recently, we drove down to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. I had some specific areas I wanted to see (it’s much too big to see everything in one day) but our plans went awry within 20 minutes of arriving when Brian Wallis, an RAF veteran of the Falkland Islands campaign, spotted my camera. Within minutes he had charmed me into turning around and accompanying him to the Falklands Memorial where he intended to lay a tribute to a fellow veteran who had recently died.

Also with us were a contingency of students and tutors from the Royal Army Medical Corps at DMS Whittington, who formed a guard of honour for Brian as he honoured his comrade. He then talked to them for a little while about his experiences in the Falklands. It was quite a surreal afternoon but one which I will remember for a long time.

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