Saturday 28 February 2009

Further up and further in...

“Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him … but the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”
The Last Battle by C.S.Lewis

When people argue about which particular manner of worship is the right one, I’m always reminded of this section. It was written in a childrens’ story in the 1950s but perhaps it exhibits more wisdom than those who spend their time judging and persecuting each other today.

I like to think that God has a plan, but I’m not arrogant enough to think that I have to understand it for it to exist.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

A day older...

It was an odd way to turn 40. I'd rather imagined doing something special, but when your partner has a hospital appointment the next morning, the only birthday present you want is for them to be well. Celebrations can wait a little while.

Thursday 19 February 2009


Once again, The Cat was looking more like Pirate Cat this week - something irritated her left eye so she was only able to glare at me with one baleful peeper, while keeping the other half shut. She's much better now - and I missed the golden opportunity to take a series of "winking cat" photos - but we're still administering the eye drops, which makes her very cross.

To make matters worse, the vet noted her generous proportions and spoke to us quite firmly about how much we were feeding her. And yet, we do try to be careful - sticking to the healthier types of cat food, and weighing out each portion to ensure she gets the correct amount. We suspect she may craftily eating at other houses, but how does a person deal with that? Perhaps a series of flyers taped to lamp-posts with the message "Have you fed this cat?" or maybe we could try shaving the words "Do not feed" into her fur...

Before we left, the vet was brave enough to heave her onto the scales, discovering that she weighs over 6kg. The national average is 4kg, so Miaow Miaow truly is a cat-and-a-half!

Monday 9 February 2009

What is wrong with this picture?

As a photographer, I'm getting used to being moved on by security guards, and being told that I'm not allowed to take pictures of things. Submitting images for sale as stock photography requires ownership of the picture, and that in turn means not violating the rights of others when taking the original shot.

Which is fine.

However, the law in the UK means that if I stand in a public place, and take a photograph of the view from that public place, without causing nuisance or distress to others, I am doing nothing wrong. The photograph belongs to me.

Unless that view features the London Eye.

Certain image libraries refuse to accept shots of the capital that include the London Eye, even if they are taken legally from a public place. This is understandable if they are concerned about the threat of legal action from the Eye's owners - nobody wants to expose themselves to that sort of risk - and so the images are rejected.

But are the owners of the London Eye (and other buildings in London) not infringing my rights as a photographer? They don't own the entire area wherein their structures stand, yet I am prevented from selling photographs I have taken of those areas. Some say that there should be no problem if the Eye is "not a prominent part of the image" but how do you take a photo of that part of the Thames where the 135m-tall wheel is not prominent?

I look forward to the day when someone with access to a good legal team challenges this situation. Our rights are just that - rights. They are not privileges, to be slowly withdrawn for fear of opportunist lawyers. Let's hope the erosion stops before we slip into the misery of an even more litigious society.

Friday 6 February 2009

Several thousand words...

I've been writing more and more recently, so it was encouraging to see an article I submitted last year finally make it into print. A feature piece on stock photography, it appears in the March issue of Digital SLR User and runs for 4 pages (they gave my pictures a lot of space). Finding it was a joy - I'd just arrived at London Waterloo for a stupidly-early meeting in Farringdon and, staggering blearily through WHSmith, came across the magazine just as it went onto the shelf. The pleasure almost made-up for having to be on a train before dawn. Almost.

On the subject of writing, it's probably worth mentioning the book I'm working on. What started as an exercise for my creative writing class has now begun to gather momentum of its own. I'm reading sections back to the group each week, which is extremely helpful. Treating the whole thing as "homework" has been key - it makes me write regularly.

I'm now doing between 500 and 1000 words each week and - at the great risk of jinxing things - it's actually starting to get a little easier. I've got a good understanding of the main character and what he has to do in the current part of the story (though there may be difficult times ahead when I have to research and write convincingly about police procedures). The process of developing each chapter is beginning to feel natural - ideas > bullet points > draft > edit - and I'm even procrastinating less!

I still wonder about the morality of it all - creating what someone this week refered to as a "charming psycho" is questionable for me, but I guess we'll see how the story feels as it develops. If nothing else, it should prepare me for writing the next book.