RICHARD ORD: Startling developments of an old camera

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There’s nothing like catching that innocent look of wonderment in your child’s eye to make you feel like, well, like a thick lumbering caveman.

 Our Isaac, aged 11, managed to do this at the weekend. I could hear him mucking about in the boxes in our spare room. There was much banging and crashing and then I heard him talking.

 The banging and crashing I put down to him locating something delicate; the talking to himself made me go and check.

 “Hi dad,” he said. “What’s this?”

 In his hand was a disposable camera.

 “It’s a camera,” I informed him, pulling it from his hands, winding it on, and taking his picture.

 “Whoah,” he exclaimed and grabbed it, turning it round and round in his hands.

 “Where’s the picture?”

 “It’s inside,” I said. “On the film.”

 “Can I open it and see?”

 “No. You have to take it to a shop. They’ll develop it for you.”

 I may as well have been speaking Urdu.

 “What’s that whistling sound?” he said.

 “It’s the flash charging up,” I said, adding, rather desperately, “disposable cameras aren’t that old you know. Your mam and I had them on every table at our wedding.”

 I might as well have been standing there in a loin cloth, wooden club in hand, with my knuckles scraping the ground.

 The more I explained how we used to take photographs, the more I felt myself ageing.

 With each explanation of the laborious photograph taking process of my youth, I felt myself dropping through the earth’s time periods.

 Rather than Isaac finding the camera in an old box in the spare room, it felt like he had discovered the bleedin’ thing on an archaeological dig.

 I explained that, in my day, all photos were taken on cameras, not mobile phones, and you had to wind the film by hand (well, thumb actually) and you only had 24 pictures, depending on what film you bought. That put me firmly in the Stone Age.

 None of the pictures could be deleted, I continued, and you only got to see what photos you’d taken, after you’d finished the film and taken it to the photographic shop for developing. I’d slipped into the Triassic Age with those comments.

 The three-day wait for your photos to be developed was all part of the fun, I told him. Strangely he wasn’t convinced.

 By the end of the conversation I felt firmly rooted in the late-Jurassic time of life. Tyrannosaurus Dad and his magic picture box.

 Our Isaac’s parting shot of “a camera, eh! I thought it was a walkie talkie” explained his talking to himself in the spare room … and confirmed my status as a walking fossil.

 I could do without the innocent look of wonderment of my kids to make me feel old … the mirror does a good enough job of that every morning, thank you very much.