Saturday, July 30, 2011

The trouble with cameras

Seeems to be getting a bit frowsty in here. An air of neglect? Maybe I should wash the net curtains, and give the rugs a bit of a shake. Or maybe life's too short...

Time flies, I do know that much. I went down to Brighton last week for my youngest daughter's graduation day, and engaged in what for me is a very rare activity: taking photographs. Looking through a lens can be a sharp reminder of how briefly we inhabit this planet. Is that really my little girl? And if so, what happened to the last twenty one years? Where did they go?

I'm not great at sitting through long-winded ceremonies, and with a couple of hundred graduands passing across the stage to pick up their diplomas this could have been an occasion where time dragged. But it didn't. Sanjeev Bhaskar is currently Chancellor of East Sussex University, and a very good one he makes. The man has plenty to say that's worth hearing, by turns funny, moving, and wise. A real trouper too. As each student emerged from the wings he was ready for whatever approach they might take. Some went for the simple handshake, others a demure peck on the cheek. Fine. Let's be sensible, because this is a university graduation ceremony after all. We'll have some decorum, thank you. But then there were some who sprang whooping across the stage to deal high fives, others who sashayed towards him with arms outstretched, in limbo-dancer mode. Some wanted proper whirly-bear hugs, like this was their very favourite uncle that they hadn't seen in donkey's years. And of course there were those who viewed this as a big photo opportunity, pointing out their parents in the audience and posing whilst said parents worked the shutters. Click-click-click. Again Sanjeev! Didn't quite get that one...

The man was up for it all, his timing perfect, generously giving of whatever people wanted from him. I was impressed. (And come to think of it, we've been lucky in our Chancellors. Former head of BBC Greg Dyke held the post at York Uni, where my eldest daughter attended. Another good man, if of a very different style.)

My only regret was in trying to take a picture myself. The trouble with cameras, and the reason I dislike using them, is that you miss the moment. You might capture it, but you don't experience it. So in dodging around the bodies all I got was this one lousy shot. Damn. Should have just sat back and enjoyed it.