Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Camera Sauvignon

A cutaway diagram of Voigtlander’s camera shows the Petzval lens with its two groups of lens elements, each having a convex and concave part. I read these words and the book smelt good: musty and piquant. Books mature like wine or cheese; they develop their own aromas, textures, flavours. This book is of a fine vintage – it’s a, let’s guess – a 1969 Camera Sauvignon maybe… nice yellow stains like nicotine on the title page. That’s an Arial font, I think and oh that bouquet… it keeps rising off the page… a symphony of smell. Well now, it’s a 1970, how about that for a guess!
I like the word cutaway. It rhymes with Steinway. Camera, piano. Two objects meant for creative hands. Black and white keys, black and white photography. Monotone – which rhymes with Parlophone – the label that signed The Beatles when no-one else would touch them – groups with guitars are on the way out now…
Cutaway, castaway. Desert Island Discs. My eight discs would have to be:
1.       Roy Harper – The Green Man
2.      Christie Moore – Ride On
3.      Rolling Stones – Prodigal Son
4.      The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever
5.      Bob Dylan – Nettie Moore
6.      Jethro Tull – Cheap Day Return
7.      Johnny Cash – Wabash River
8.     Davy Graham – Anji
This list will always change. If I chose it tomorrow, it’d be different. You have a go: it’s really hard to pin your favourites down. You start to remember the other songs it’d be hard to live without.
The book reminds me that it’s still with me. Books. The smell of them. Voigtlander sounds like a person who comes from the small island of Voigt. It’s a rocky escarpment where men eke out a living fishing, farming and sustain themselves through hard-drinking. You need to be fatalistic in a land where there are only two hours of daylight in summer.
Petzval sounds like Pretzel. My friend Ruth used to get through a packet a day. Curving bits of baked wheat that were polished like a hardwood. Twisted into shapes like miniature carpet beaters.
Now you have The Bible and Shakespeare. What would be your choice of book?
            ‘Well Sue, I think that it would have to be…’


  1. When my wife and I were first getting to know each other we had a go at the whole Top Ten thing and what became apparent very quickly is that music is so important to me that there was no way in hell I could ever pick just ten. I usually sent her lists of about twenty-five. The same goes for films. Books, strangely enough, not so much. There I probably could pick ten. But just one? Nah.

  2. Hi Jim

    Nah indeed.Thanks for readng.I can't do it either. Top Ten Books? The Grapes of Wrath would certainly be in mine.



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