Sunday, 30 March 2008

Photo Archive Volume 1

As those close to me will know, I am a keen and expert photographer. In fact, that’s simply not true. While others frame and craft, compose and artfully shoot, I point, click and create a series of blurs that even the inebriated couldn’t mistake for art. But over time, memories become blurred, so in that respect my collection holds up well – life being a whole lot of random things, slightly blurred.

I bought my first digital camera last year, but the advent of this future technology has not improved my skills;if anything it has substantially subtracted from them. For now, instead of taking even a little time to take a picture, I just take three rubbish ones in quick succession. Hence the collection of around a thousand photos stored on my hard drive is mostly obscure repeats of the same failures. But among the rubble, the tons and tons of rubble, a few gems do lurk, or at least rocks of perhaps little value but a certain sparkle, that capture the eye and maybe have a little story to tell.

What the above analogy is trying to get at is that I have a few photos of note. Most have already been posted somewhere on this blog, for the blog is the same age as my camera, but there are a few I never quite got round to putting up. So in four installments, and in no particular order, I’m going to go through some of these pictures, which also happen to capture moments of the year that eluded my blog at the time of writing.

Views of Rio

Of course, I posted a few views of Rio de Janeiro taken from my jaunt up to the Cristo Redentor statue, but during a later trip to the city I had the chance to have a wander up the Sugerloaf Mountain, or whatever the Portuguese name is. I believe this wander was described: what I couldn’t be bothered doing then uploading the photos. But finally, here we are.

Rio is a genuinely world-class beautiful city, and this only captures a small part. The Cristo Redentor statue is prominent here, and although not one of the world’s best wonders, as claimed, it’s certainly iconic and visible around most of the central part of Rio when weather and smog allow. To the left, right and behind these mountains, there’s much more city, much more mountains, favellas clinging to the sides of mountains, beaches, ocean and trees.

This is Copacabana beach. Very nice, to be sure, but unfortunately every time I think of it I get that damn Manilow song in my head, which kind of ruins it all.


I was in Nigeria twice last year: all of January (and before), and from late March to early May. Of the latter stint, only about half the time was spent offshore, with the other half fannying around on base and in the hotel, achieving very little. Nigeria has some good qualities – oh hang on, no it doesn’t!

Here’s some burning of excess oil offshore. And you thought rigs were environmentally friendly!

Obviously, in warmer climes, it’s important to avoid dehydration. If you’re even just 10% dehydrated, your brain is 90% less functional, or something along these lines. Saturation = no retards. This poster was strategically placed above a toilet in the rig offshore Nigeria and is a sage warning. It is a little alarmist however. Even if you pass the first test, “Drink Water Immediately!”, and are ok on the second, “Drink More Water”, just when you think you can relax, you find you have to “Keep Drinking Water”. It just never ends.

Here’s some big tools.

In Port Harcourt, going from anywhere to anywhere wasn’t a simple case of hopping in a taxi. An armed escort had to follow or lead the dark-windowed bus I was bundled into. This escort would flash its lights and whoop out a siren, and generally draw a lot of attention to us. Worse, the escort would have four armed guys all in a state of pointless urgency, and this would mean they would try and take all kinds of shortcuts, which in the narrow, congested streets of the city only resulted in massive traffic jams. Then the escorts would jump out their vehicle, wave their guns around, get into loud shouting arguments with other drivers, until eventually, inch by inch, a path was cleared. Sometimes the escorts didn’t have guns, they just had grenades. It goes without saying that during my months in Nigeria, I felt far more threatened by my escorts than I did by the bandits.

Muslim Terrorism

In my first flat, until June, I had a couple of Indian students. They were there for a year and managed to turn the place into a pile of filth and debris. I wasn’t very impressed and they didn’t get their deposit back. They left me a little present, though it was the cleaner who found it. It was pinned up prominently on a door, obviously intended to be found. My cleaner was convinced it was an intimidatory threat from Muslim terrorists, and went on to tell me about the one time she’d cleaned a flat and found a copy of the Koran. However, my Indian students, although tanned gentlemen, weren’t Muslims because they used to drink Tennant’s lager, which is explicitly prohibited in the Koran (and all good society). Nevertheless, I like to dramatise this story into a direct threat upon myself by global extremists.

Smashed Up Cars

The number of wrecked old cars prominently displayed is a marker of any civilisation. Nigeria has lots and lots, Korea doesn’t have any. Apart from cars once belonging to me, Aberdeen has only one, a wreck in the private car park behind my first flat, which has been there for over five years. Brazil didn’t have too many, but did have the above gem left immediately outside my guesthouse.

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