Oo dun dat den?

Local Postman is a random sod. The post can arrive any time between 8 am and 5 pm, probably depending on how much he had to drink the night before.

My shift work changed midweek, I am now on a 3 pm start rather than horrible morning starts. The afternoon guy is clearing a load of gravel from his front garden and fair enough, having to do that in the morning and then work a six-hour shift would be a bugger. Since I detest the pre-noon hours with a passion, swapping shifts was a mutually beneficial arrangement. It also lets me at the Caol Ila because I have time for the peat-breath to dissipate before starting work. The good whiskies are supplemented tonight with Glen Orchy – I have to make the good stuff last, you know, and once the taste buds are burned, the good stuff would just be wasted.

This new shift pattern, I thought, would help with a little item I had ordered. The Zenit-EM came without a lens cap and I also like to have a skylight filter on every lens. I don’t believe those filters really do much light-related stuff, but if the camera ever gets bashed, a scratched skylight filter costs an awful lot less than a scratched lens. I had ordered a bundle, 52mm skylight and polarising filters, lens cap and lens hood for less than a tenner. So I was expecting a small box of photographic equipment.

Surely Local Postie would manage to get to the house before I left at about 2:30? Not a chance. There was a little card through the door – fortunately the package was at a neighbours’ house so he really had brought it with him this time. A smoking neighbour, a real person, not the Plastic Man next door or Drunken Loonie the other side.

Off I went, expecting maybe a two-inch cube.

Did you ever see that episode of ‘One Foot in the Grave’ where Victor Meldrew is sent a giant plastic bluebottle and has no idea who sent it or why? I have six years to go until pension day and things already happen to me that are as strange, or stranger, than happened to him.

The box was immense and wasn’t delivered by Local Postie at all. It was at the size where the post office would go ‘Ooo, expensive’ but other carriers would deal with no problem. I briefly wondered if I had mistakenly ordered filters and lens cap for a 5.2-metre astronomer’s telescope until I opened it.

It does contain photographic equipment. A Jessop enlarger and lots of accessories! Aside from the film developing tank, the entire darkroom is in there. I am in the photography business once more.

It’s a better enlarger than my old Zenit. This one looks like it means business. The Zenit looked like something patched together by a Russian peasant out of bits that fell off a satellite. It worked well, I’ll give it that, but it wasn’t really what you might call ‘techno’.

The one thing I have not found in the box is who it’s from. This extremely generous benefactor is so far anonymous. Maybe he, she or it wishes to remain so in which case I will respect that.

Or maybe I have not yet found the note among the mass of gear I’m playing with here.

So if it was you. please let me know. I’d like to make sure you get the first copies of Panoptica and Inside Outside, at least – and signed copies of any of my books you don’t have. I only wish I could offer more but I run a tight ship here and it’s all at sea ๐Ÿ˜‰

The attic is the best place for a darkroom. There are no windows and all residual light is easily blocked. There is power up there, my father put it in before he had his over-70 non-age-related-stroke (smoking causes premature ageing but smokers do not age, according to the NHS, and working in coal mines for most of your adult life has no effect on health). The railway is up there too but that is in transition from N to OO and there is plenty more room. Well, if I reorganise the junk, there will be.

Reveal yourself, Darkroom Banksie, and terrible stories will be on their way to disturb your dreams.

It’s the least I can do. Actually, at this stage of Leg-iron finance, it is probably the most I can do…



29 thoughts on “Oo dun dat den?

  1. T’wasn’t I…I’m clumsy and have little hand-eye coordination at the best of times. The mere thought of me handling chemicals in the dark makes me want to ring my insurance broker. Always paid someone else to develop my photos.


        • red light…green light…load in darkness…

          GUYS! I’m the bloke who has to stop walking to answer his cell phone. I stopped trying to chew gum cos I kept ending up in ER having my tongue stitched back on and I can’t recall how many times I flamegrilled my boyparts whilst driving cos it took me nearly a decade to get the hang of smoking and driving AT THE SAME TIME. Even now I try and avoid driving stick cos that means moving TWO limbs in unison.

          You really think I want to try loading something as fiddly as camera film on a spindle in a dark tube in a darkened room? I’ve cut my fingers to shreds just scanning negatives before now.


            • Yep that does indeed sound like me…although strangely enough despite , or maybe precisely because, being such ‘klutz’ (as Granny would have said,not that she was jewish ,mind, but she married a pawnbroker and had to speak jiddisch for appearance’s sake) I am very very careful around anything truly lethal or anything that has the potential to do serious lasting and expensive damage…like handguns, plastique, condoms and shopping trolleys (don’t ask!).


          • XX You really think I want to try loading something as fiddly as camera film on a spindle in a dark tube in a darkened room? Iโ€™ve cut my fingers to shreds just scanning negatives before now.XX
            YOU, sir, are a TRUE photographer! I salute you.
            Worse than paper cuts, so they are. THEN you go dipping your fingers in “Fix”!!!!!

            GREAT fun!


    • I never bothered learning developing and printing methods for colour. There were so many cheap places to get colour film developed and printed that it just wasn’t worthwhile.

      I did develop colour slides once but they contained some things I didn’t want to take to the chemists. They would make damn fine blackmail material if those involved were now rich, and if I could remember what happened to the slides. Nowadays, of course, you can take digital humiliating photos and post them to the entire planet with a click.

      There was a safelight for colour, never bought one because I didn’t need it, but I do remember seeing ads for it.


      • Back in the late 60s I worked as a delivery driver (Morris 1000 van) for a photo developing company at the back of Shaftesbury Avenue, running round the London chemist shops picking up and dropping off. The company I worked for would develop anything. And I mean, anything. It was one of the highlights of the job, getting called in to the print room to peruse photos of some nubile wench getting intimate with a cucumber or whatever. I only ever saw a fraction of those sorts of photo, but apparently there were lots, some much more extreme than the aforementioned salad lovers. The point I’m making is that this company was not in the slightest judgmental about what came in. If it was being paid for, they’d print it. Simple as that.


    • You haven’t had one of those phone calls about ‘attic scrappage schemes’, have you? I get daily calls from people wanting me to scrap my windows but I tell them it’ll just make the house drafty.


      • I do get calls from various companies and what i think is a Govt. agency telling me to insulate my loft, like was done 10 years ago. The downside of having the loft insulated is now the loft is freezing in winter and boiling in summer, and condensation drips off the metal flue. The upside is we found the housebuilders took the vent from the bathroom and just had it exiting into the loft instead of outside by the eaves.


        • I too have an insulated loft and likewise, it’s a brain-freeze up there in winter. So I have a fan heater up there, because it’s where my railway is. I suppose that somewhat defeats the object… but the trains must run!


            • It keeps the place warm below the insulation. No heat escapes into the loft but that’s where my railway lives. So I have to heat the loft instead of just letting heat from the house do it.


                • Not so easy in my roof space. There are cross-members between the roof struts which would make it awkward as a living space although they are very handy for holding up railway boards. I have questioned people about doing it that way but this roof’s design requires free air flow beneath the tiles or it’ll go damp. It’s still possible but difficult and costly and I already have plenty of rooms.

                  The sensible option would be to build a smaller railway downstairs. Maybe I’ll do that as well – a little winter railway.


  2. That’s a fantastic gift from whoever you are.
    I have something for you too Leggy.It’s no way as impressive as a darkroom,but I think it will put a smile on your face – something for your train set scenery.If you have a snailmail contact,My nearest post box is 10 seconds from my front door.It fits in a matchbox..and I’m not a mad stalker..or am I? muhuhahahahaa


  3. I was working in France last week, they seem more relaxed about smoking, even though there is a ban of sorts on smoking in public places. Most small bars seem to allow smoking, I did ask the owner of my favourite bar about the smoking rules, but as my French is not good, and his english non-existant i am none the wiser.


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