The darkened room

November 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

He is sitting in the dim light at the end of the gallery, in front of the television screen. His wooden walking stick is laid in repose across his knees, but his cap remains firmly on; that’s a lazy wind pushing around outside today, and these galleries aren’t much warmer.

He’s watching a programme about a landscape photographer and the photos she took up on the hills round here best part of thirty years ago, back when people took their time and didn’t leave it to technology. Back when they did things properly.

His grandchildren bought him a digital camera a couple of years ago; they ask how he’s getting on with it but truth is it’s barely been out of the box. It’s too small and too fiddly. Not like his Hasselblad. That’s a proper camera. He still brings it out sometimes, even though his pension doesn’t stretch to film now, not at the price it is, and of course the darkroom had to go when he moved into the bungalow.

His wife used to joke that other men had sheds whilst he had his darkroom. She never gave up, not even at the end, asking what he was doing in there and there were things to be done round the house, and he’d go blind like a mole in that bloody cupboard, but he’d ignore her. He’d be in his space, no bigger than a cubby hole, dodging and burning, ducking and weaving around the light as it lingered on the paper. She’d tell him how he was missing out, spending his life in the dark, but really he was making sure he didn’t miss a thing.

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