I was sitting in Blenheim Palace the other day drinking tea, as you do (well, all right, it was the visitors’ café, but let’s not quibble), and I was thinking about the way unexpected things can strike out of the blue. Half an hour later I was standing on Vanbrugh’s bridge trying to photograph the lake when my much-loved Canon G12 ceased to function, without warning and definitely out of the blue. It just seized itself solid, making distressing bleeping noises.
My smartphone told me there was a camera shop in nearby Witney, and so, later that afternoon, I rolled into T4 Cameras nursing my ailing Canon. A very nice man offered to render first aid and looked carefully at it, attempted to fix it, sympathised, tried again, regretted he was unable to fix it, said it would likely be prohibitively expensive to send away for repair – or sadly not possible at all since they no longer make this model and spare parts can be difficult to locate, found a spare cap anyway to protect the lens which had jammed open, sympathised again and flatly refused to take any money for his trouble. I walked away with my poor camera bandaged in sellotape and felt bereft.
So what did you do, Kath, you ask? Well, I did the obvious thing and commandeered my husband’s camera for the next couple of days of garden visits. But oh, it wasn’t the same. I wanted my G12 back!
When we arrived home in Dorset, I took my camera to the local shop in Weymouth where it was bought nearly eight years ago, for a second opinion. Yes, they said, confirming the diagnosis, the fixing of it was likely to be ridiculously expensive, and perhaps not possible at all.
‘But it’s been so good!’ I wailed. ‘It taught me to take photos – was patient while I learned to frame a shot, to pay attention to the direction of the light – all I had to do was point and click.’
Had it taken its last photo, then? Very sorry, they said, but yes that is most likely the case. Now, as a mature woman, having a meltdown in my local camera shop would have been undignified to say the least. So I didn’t. My howl of anguish was a mere horrified squeak. My lovely G12, after thousands and thousands and thousands of shots had bitten the dust. And at the height of the garden visiting season, too, just when I use it most. Oh, calamity!
But I’m a great believer in serendipity, and what they did have in the shop, entirely by chance, was an identical camera, second hand, and at a very reasonable price. Reader, I bought it. What I wanted was my old camera back, and that’s exactly what I got; another familiar, weighty, capable, patient G12. Of course, I will eventually have to concede defeat and go for a more modern model, and that’s fine, but for now equanimity and normal service is restored. I have my old friend back, or at least, its identical twin.