Ages ago, I mentioned my long hold-out against
owning a camera and my subsequent delight in having one. My only regret, really, is that I didn't get one sooner. Had I done so, I could have captured on film (or whatever the thing is that one captures pictures on now that we - or the cameras we use, at least - are digital):
a) the framed letter from the Bishop of Norway apologising for the behaviour of the Vikings, which hangs in the church at Lindisfarne;
b) the cab driver, sitting in his cab in a line of taxis outside the Argos shop near Victoria Station in London one afternoon, reading The Book of Dave.
There is one other positive aspect of camera ownership that I've discovered but that up until now I've been a bit reluctant to mention - even though in many ways it is really the best aspect of all for me. It is the opportunity a camera gives me to take photographs of the iron, the stove and various other appliances whenever I'm about to leave the house - an opportunity I very rarely forego.
I should explain, I suppose, that I don't take these objects' pictures because I'll miss the things themselves during my absence or because I think they possess any particular visual beauty. I take them so that when, as almost always happens at some point in the hours after I leave, I start to wonder if I did in fact turn off the iron, if I did take the coffee percolator off the stove, if I did really lock the door (or indeed even close it), if I did turn the tap off and pull the plug from the bath, I can turn to reassuring visual evidence that on the home front all is well.
My earlier reluctance about revealing this habit of mine was provoked by two contradictory ideas. On the one hand, I thought that everyone probably had the same set of anxieties as I do about leaving the house and more than likely had also come up with the exact same solution to the problem as I had. If this was the case - if all my fellows were starting off each outing in the same tedious way as I was - it would, I decided, be as deadly boring to talk about as it would be to discuss any other regular chore. Washing-up, polishing shoes, pre-departure-picture-taking: they were all equally dull conversational gambits.
On the other hand, completely antithetically, I feared that I might be quite alone in this post-leaving-the-house anxiety nonsense and therefore, if I mentioned it, the truth might at last be discovered that I am actually 'a little bit odd' (aka completely batty, don't let her near the children whatever you do).
Lately, however, I've been found out a couple of times (perhaps I had a deeply hidden desire to be caught) - either by someone witnessing the actual taking of one of my ridiculous stove-iron-front-door-key-going-into-lock series of pictures or by someone idly flicking through the cache of shots on my camera and finding the finished results. To my great surprise, instead of either nonchalant recognition or guffaws and cries of mental derangement, the reaction has been a uniform cry of 'Brilliant (possibly with an implied or even quietly muttered 'if a bit mad')'. And that is why I've decided I might as well share my snapping-for-peace-of-mind idea in case there's someone somewhere who might find it useful. It's not very sensible or very exciting but it has helped me worry less. If it does the same for anyone else, I'll be glad.
Alice Munro: “The Progress of Love”
3 hours ago