Sunday 4 October 2015

Ways of Seeing

Time flies when you aren't paying attention. At least, that's the way I feel about it. Nothing much has changed since I last wrote. Perhaps that is why I write less these days.

Last Saturday, 26th September 2015, we laid my Da's ashes to rest in the garden of St. Thomas More and St John Fisher Catholic Church, Burford. The time of year was fitting somehow, Michaelmas - the feast of All Saints. It is the name of the house to which Ma and Da moved when they retired to the Cotwolds. Graham and I stayed with Ma on Saturday night. We lit the fire and sat and talked. We looked through old photograph albums.

After Mass on Sunday, and a long delicious roast lunch, we left with two presents, both significant to me. The first was a massive bunch of Michaelmas daisies from the garden. The michaelmas was in flower when Ma and Da moved to their cottage in the country. It has always grown in the garden. Da loved it. He loved the garden and was just waiting and waiting for the sun to come out and shine again when he went and passed away in April. 

The second gift is a loan. It is Da's camera. I am not sure where he got it, as it would have been an expensive piece of kit in it's day and it would have been unlike him to go out and buy something so flash. It is a Canon 3000n SLR. Da loved to take photographs. It is passion he has passed on to some of my siblings: they take beautiful images, and regularly document family events and daily life. Looking through the old albums it is clear that Da had an excellent eye for a photograph too. He always caught the right moment, captured the smiles. He took photos in the same way as he painted. When you look at his painting you see all the colours of the rainbow, each shade of green and each cloud in the sky given due respect and brought to life in watercolour. Look in his paint box though and you'd see a few screwed up tubes of old paint. In my whole life I only ever remember him buying one tube of paint. He made the colours happen by mixing them on an ancient old palate, and he could paint any colour. Da's attitude to cameras and photos seemed to be similar. I don't remember him ever spending fortunes on photographic equipment. He loved this Canon 3000n though. I remember him wanting to have the camera all fixed up for when Graham and I married. He had a man put a film in it. I don't quite know what happened to it. Somehow the film was corrupted and when he had it developed there was nothing on it. He was sad about that. Now I look back and think I should have given him more help to make sure it worked properly.

And so, second chances come along. Yesterday Graham and I took the Canon 3000n to a shop and bought it new batteries and new film. We polished it and cleaned it. I downloaded the instruction manual from the internet and read it carefully. This morning we took the camera for a walk and took 6 pictures. We are learning, we are experimenting. Hopefully we will document the arrival of our own little one come November. We will take the film to be developed, choose the best shots and pop them in a brand new family album. I know when I was thinking about which pictures to take I was thinking about how Da would have seen the world. How he would have seen what we saw. He would have loved the cows, and he would have seen the happiness and love between Graham, our unborn baby and I. Hopefully, when the shutter clicked, we will have captured some of that. But, because this is a film camera, we will have to wait and see! There are another 30 pictures still to see, choose, consider and take before we can see the fruits of our labours.

I love having Da's camera. I've always wanted to take beautiful pictures. I don't know yet if I have any talent for it, but I'd like Graham and I to give it a go. I like the idea of using film. I want to wait to see what turns out. I am looking forward to the day we take the film to be developed, the excitement of walking home with the prints, the artistry of choosing the best pictures for an album that will forever be our window on the world. Maybe one day far in the future, our children will remember us, looking through the images we select. Maybe we'll be able to share how we see the world. And I'll know it was because Da, as he brought up his family, paid attention to how he saw the world and how he wanted us to see it too.