Right, first off, I should be presenting a bird count now, I know, but I haven’t done one. The reason is that birds go into moult in August which is a dark and dingy month in the undergrowth and the moult means birds are reluctant to show themselves and they tend to look like each other anyway at this time. Now, I know they have no choice and I really don’t mind seeing the occasional tatty sparrow or blue tit. However, when all the birds look like tatty sparrows and blue tits that have just struggled out of bed at 12 on a Sunday morning after a night’s heavy clubbing and carousing then that’s where I have to draw the line. If Margret and I make the effort to invite them to dinner every single day with the offer of the finest bird food available then the very least they can do is dress properly for the occasion. They don’t, so I’m not counting them. Simples. Sorry Vic.

Anyway, now that’s out of the way, here’s the regret.

I‘ve spent a lot of time this year, during lockdown and afterwards too, taking photographs along one of the cracked and crumbling paths in Holbeck ravine. I know it must sound slightly odd, the idea of photographing a path but that’s Covid, lockdowns and desperation for you. And it is what I do after all, take photos.

The rationale is as follows. I’ve been trying to see the path as a metaphor for, well, just a few of the big themes really; life and the state of things, the nation, the world etc. and the results are, as you can probably imagine, electrifyingly effective. Or they would have been if my wife, Margret, hadn’t stepped in and thrown a Spaniard in the works.*

The series of pictures was, I thought, pretty much complete and I asked Margret for her opinion. “You should include that photograph you took of the blackbird next to the crack in the path. What a visual metaphor that is!” she says.

Having not the slightest idea what she’s talking about I ask, “What photograph?“

“You know, the one in your bird blog?”

“Bird blog?”, I reply, hopelessly adrift on a sea of confusion. But very slowly a dim light of understanding flickers into life flooding the room with its all-illuminating radiance. I look at the blog and there it is. “Wow, yeah, brilliant. Good job I thought of that!”

And that was the point at which the Spaniard got involved because I couldn’t find the photo anywhere, not on my computer, not on any of my hard drives. During one of my regular clear-outs I must have accidentally zapped it. What could I do? Overcome with frustration and despair I gently placed my head in my hands and moaned softly at the wall. How could I have been so stupid?

The upshot is, of course, that I right-clicked on the blog image and saved both it and the day. The resolution isn’t as good as it would otherwise have been but it’ll do. And the moral of this story for all you photographers out there is this. By all means zap your rubbish photos, and I’ve taken tens of thousands of those over the years, but do it with the greatest care. Because if you don’t……..well, take it away, Frank! 

*”A Spaniard in the Works” is a book by the great John Lennon. Nonsense, but highly amusing nonsense.



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