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Thai Girl Tattle: Give Me My Camera Back!

A new shiny cute Pentax could bring an end to the "camera wars'' in Andrew Hicks's Thai household.

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Your camera? It's not yours, it's mine!

There are many stresses in a marriage and perhaps there should be added to irretrievable breakdown and unreasonable behaviour a new ground for divorce, namely 'irresoluble disputes over the camera'.

Photography is a source of tension at the best of times, such as when Daddy wants to take a family photo and like a sheep dog he's trying to move everyone into the same place and get them to look vaguely in the direction of the camera. But little Jimmy doesn't like having his photo taken and is clinging to Mummie's leg, while Mummie's worried about what her hair looks like and teenage Sandra is pouting and preening most horribly. You can see the tension in the snap shots when they've been printed and preserved for eternity, though it's so different now as you can doctor digital photos. Everyone's going to want to have their face removed from the image, so ergo, there'll be no family photo.

Of course Cat and I never ever fight, though one of the things we've had discussions over has been the use of the camera... I mean about who it belongs to and who gets to use it first. It's my first digital camera, or should I say 'ours', and it's an old Sony as big as a brick. I like it for that and for the fact it has an amazing obsolescent feature which in the olden days we used to call a viewfinder. With this cunning device, you can actually exercise autonomy and self-determination and take the photo you actually want to take. With these new digital screens or whatever they call them nowadays, you can't see a damned thing so you have to shoot blind and compose the picture on your computer when you get home. I think they're called LCD screens, though what The Lord Chancellor's Department has got to do with it I never can work out.

Anyway, Cat has an eye for a photo and as there are two thousand folk in the village who, unlike farang families, all want to be shot at dawn, the camera has had plenty of use. They stand there at attention as if before a firing squad, then gaze myopically at themselves on the LCD screen and they just love it. So Cat's camera has certainly spread more happiness than marital dissention and has been a huge hit locally. Or do I mean MY camera?

No, we really haven't fought over it, but if my dear wife were to devise a strategy to monopolise its use, it would be to hide the instruction book and to keep all the optical chargers and battery readers and cables and things in a variety of polythene bags and to secrete them around the house, moving them strategically from place to place every few days. That is what she has in fact done, though strangely I don't think her objective has been to put me off the scent as this is her usual practice with anything of mine I ever want to put my hands on and have irretrievably lost.

Now that I've just got back in the village after my trip to UK, I produced to her my new, expensive Pentax digital camera, bought last week in Petersfield high street. Her eyes lit up as she noted its shiny, cute smallness and I think I detected a hint of acquisitiveness in her expression. Yes, it's a great little camera except that in Thailand where the light is always bright, you can't usually take any photos with it as it's impossible to see anything on the LCD screen.

I've just had a look at the lumpen old Sony and noted that it has a wonderful antique viewfinder. Now we've got two cameras we should never need fight again, and I'm trying to figure how we can work out an arrangement as to their use that'll satisfy both of us. Cat likes'em shiny and small and expensive, while I crave bricks with viewfinders. So I think I'm beginning to see a way through all this that might take some pressure off our relationship and keep the shutters clicking, if that's what shutters still do. If cameras still have shutters, that is.


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