27 February, 2006


Our regular Sunday excursion took us this week to the 2006 Arizona Scottish Highland Games. Alas, due to general lethargy we only made it in time for the ladies' caber-tossing (right), though we also saw some reenacted swordfighting, a display of classic British cars, the tail-end of a pipes-and-drums marching band, a hand-operated machine for stamping medallions with prepicked designs, and the folksy Tartan Terrors, whose didgeridoo failed to redeem their bantery, repetitious averageness. We ate a deep-fried Twinkie, and drank Irn-Bru, which, as my British readers will well be aware, is utterly awful. (But it was until recently the best-selling soft-drink in Scotland, so it seemed appropriate.) Finally, I checked my clan ancestry at the MacRoth tent, at last persuading my sceptical wife that she has indeed married into the bloodline of William Rufus, Bertrand Russell, and Erik the Red.

I'm quite pleased with this picture. Photographers can be a bit self-important about their work, getting lost in technical irrelevancies and marvelling at the wondrous artistic beauty of the shot they've just taken of, say, the Mona Lisa, or Westminster Abbey. Amateur snappers seem to have trouble getting away from sunsets, flowers, and derelict urban corners, though I see some handsome and unusual work in galleries now and then, and on the web. I adore antique photography, however; the Metropolitan, for instance, has a mesmerising collection of daguerreotypes and other nineteenth-century images. As for me, I'm the last person to consider myself a photographer: I have never owned a proper camera, and I am 100% uninterested in the technicalities of such contraptions. Somehow, I get lucky, as with this champion tosser.

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