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I forgot to take any photos

“Today everything exists to end in a photograph.” Susan Sontag

At about the point that all the food had been eaten at yesterday's family gathering I realised I had not taken any photographs. So I sent David to take some - this is the best - which might tell you how bad the rest of them were. Sorry David, but then it is difficult to take group photos in which everyone is included and everyone looks happy and beautiful - or at least interesting. And I took nothing. Not of me preparing the food, the food when it was looking at its best, or of the subsequent feast. I didn't even take any photos of the dessert course which, of course, came after the realisation that no photos had been taken.

I was in the moment you see. Experiencing all those emotions one feels when one has prepared a special meal for family - joy at seeing everyone, but with those tiny anxieties that tempers will explode over something - and they did briefly - well it's family; anxiety that the food will turn out as it should; pleasure when it does; anxiety again as to whether everyone will like it - so many more. Lots of anxiety I see.

And yes, the lamb got burnt, the carrots shrank away to almost nothing, and the lasagna could just possibly have been cooked a tiny bit longer. But you see the lamb was burning and everyone was hungry.

I suppose it's especially noteworthy that no photos were taken, given that I probably bored you all to death telling you about what I was going to cook, so you might have, quite reasonably, expected a photographic summary of the results. That's what people do on foodie blogs isn't it? I really meant to take a few photos and then sort of give an analysis of all those dishes. Suffice to say, that perhaps, the lasagna, the farinata with its jammy onions, and accompanying yoghurt dip were the stars - well my cake, and my granddaughter's cheesecake should be added to that I guess. But then everyone loves cake.

The lamb in fact was one of those examples of a sort of disaster - when it was removed to the weber for a final finish it did indeed burn, rather dramatically - particularly in one place, and with it, most of the potential gravy, and yet, it was really pretty delicious and just fell apart as slow-cooked lamb should. Potatoes and beans? None left.

Maybe this happy occasion will now just disappear into the back corners of memory. There will be no moment in time, and no foodie photographs. Does this matter? Are the most important parts of your life enshrined in a photograph? We have no photographs of our wedding day for example. Does it matter? I remember virtually all of it. However, my descendants will not have the chance to see my wedding day - but I don't have photographs of my parents, or my grandparents weddings either. I'm not even sure I have photographs of my father's parents - the photos I have may or may not be them.

Today we take photos all the time. The pendulum has swung too far I think. Sometimes the occasion seems to exist only for the photograph. So perhaps in a way I am glad I didn't take any. I was fully focussed on the moment - not on recording it. And when asked, David too, just did as he was told.

“A good snapshot keeps a moment that's gone from running away.” said Eudora Welty. It would be very sad if those moments disappeared just because there was no photograph. And they don't.


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