Any advance on a thousand? By Jan Needle
They do say a picture is worth a thousand words, and here’s some sort of proof. I put up a pic on my last blog which I thought was self-explanatory. A young man on a donkey cart, quite clearly taken in the far west of Ireland, quite clearly in the early 20th or late 19th century, quite clearly using a mobile phone.
It was widely misinterpreted. People seemed to think I was making some point about anachronisms in writing. I was not. I was trying to share my sense of delight, and my perennial problem with what exactly history is, or might be. 'Junk,' the great man said. Or did he say 'bunk'? Or 'the bunk'? Or 'the bunkum'? Or just 'bunkum'? Nobody exactly knows.
(And Voltaire, incidentally, never disagreed with a word I said, but defended to the death my right to say it. Nor did Goering reach for his revolver on hearing the word culture.)
The problem with my attempt at making a point through humour was, apparently, that although new technology can do almost anything – the picture I photographed was hanging on a friend’s wall in North Wales – you’ve got to go along with said technology. The blogsite allowed me to choose from several sizes to reproduce the picture, and I chose the wrong one. It was a design thing. I didn’t want the pic to overwhelm my deathless prose.
All I achieved was making it just too small for the glorious image to speak for itself. People thought it was just a picture of some bloke sitting on a cart with a bicycle. Scratching his earole, maybe? Who cared?
So, let me try again. First, the picture as big as it can be. Voila.
Secondly, another picture, taken on my mobile phone in a coastal graveyard in wild west Cornwall a couple of weeks ago. To me it was unarguably an English version of the ‘mannequin pis’ in Belgium, without the pis.
Strangely, I was the only one of our party who noticed this phenomenon. The other three just thought I had a dirty mind, and no respect for religion. Both true, but that’s beside the point.
And what is the point, you ask me? Quite honestly, I’m damned if I can remember. Two pictures, which to me spoke many, many words.
Talking of which, my Napoleon book’s just come out in German. I’ll have to read it, to see if it reveals any of the things I hoped came out in English. Funny business, isn’t it?
PS. By English I meant Cornish, naturally. Forgive me, friends. These days one cannot be too careful. And not just about photographs.