Can’t count

I wish people would stop telling us that it’s the last X of the decade. It isn’t.

Let’s get this right. A decade is 10 years. This year is 2019, which ends in a 9. It is the ninth year of a ten year decade. There is one more whole year to go after this year before the decade comes to an end.

The first year was year 1, the second year 2 and so on. The tenth year was year 10. At the end of a year ending with a multiple of 10 we end a decade. The year 100 was the hundredth year, the end of a century. The end of 1999 was not the end of a century as we still had one year to go.

Not that ending a decade or century has any special meaning anyway…


Tomorrow in the UK is election day, your chance to participate in the running of the country.It’s not for me to say who you should vote for, but think about a couple of things:

If you don’t vote, then don’t complain about the result afterwards. And remember that there are plenty of people who would love to vote but are not able to.

And if you do vote, and your choice gets into power and they immediately withdraw their promises and let everyone down, then it will be on your conscience for evermore.

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The first camera I ever owned was an Ilford Sprite.

It took 127 roll film, had a switch on the front for colour or black and white and was very basic. It took good pictures and I still have some.

You took the roll film to Walkers in Scarborough and asked for enprints. I remember on my first visit, maybe I was 10, I asked for H prints and was corrected.

Working in a camera shop gave me an opportunity to buy something better, a Praktica L.

It was a real tank of a camera. Totally mechanical, no batteries, no light metering but it did have interchangeable screw thread lenses. The clunk it made when taking a shot was quite deafening.

But it worked, and its basic nature meant you really had to know what you were doing.

Of course, this 35mm camera used film. 24 or 36 exposure prints or slides. It was an expensive business, so you thought carefully about every picture. It also taught patience – sending off a roll of transparency film and waiting for a week until they came back…

I moved on to Olympus, first the OM1N and then the 2SP.

Olympus set the trend for smaller and lighter cameras, battery powered of course and beautiful to handle. I used mine until decent digital came along.

The snow man

I once met Raymond Briggs, quite by accident. I was in Selfridges and he was there signing books. I had to get one. Mr Briggs was just as you would expect.

Briggs has created some of the, I was going to say best loved but perhaps that’s not quite right for some of them, highly regarded illustrated books. Fungus the Bogeyman, When the wind blows, Ether and Ernest and Father Christmas. And, of course, in 1978, The Snowman.

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