An Estonian, The Change Ringer & St Martin In The FieldsMonday, April 10, 2006
Some years ago while in London, I decided to go and see a Graham Greene play, Travels With My Aunt. At the intermission I was savouring the feeling of not running into anybody I knew or had photographed. That was not to be. The mysterious and handsome Laith Reynolds (I once asked him if he were a spy and he smiled without answering), stood in front of me producing a hand with a spotless white, cotton glove. "I have a skin, condition, you know." He offered to pick me up very early in the morning at my hotel to take me to listen to him change ring at St Martin in the Fields and at St Clement Danes. People go to St Clement Danes to see the statue of Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris that is outside. That evening Laith drove me (he owns a Jaguar in every city that he lives in) to his house for a drink and to meet his wife. His house was on one of those famously circular streets with very expensive and old houses. Change ringing is an English art that has a worldwide following and whose members communicate in patterns that to me seem to be almost masonic. After listening to Laith (the man on the right with the white shirt and tie) and the other folks ring the bells in patterns that only the learned can discern, we walked down the spiral staircase of the bell tower. We finished the day looking at the Templar tombs in the Temple Church. My 50mm F-1.4 Nikon lens fell out of my bag and rolled all the way down before I could catch it. For the last ten years I have taken pictures with a cracked rear element. I regret to this day turning down (I said I didn't have the time) Laith's offer to take me to ring the bells at St Paul's Cathedral the next day.
Maanus Pikker, an Estonian engineer I met at Wreck Beach (fourth from the right), says I snapped this with his camera. After not seeing him for 27 years he contacted me and we had tea at the Granville Island Tea Company. He offered me the gift of a pristine Nikon FM (sort of like opening a barn door in the sticks and finding a brand new Wolkswagen Beetle). The camera came with a 50mm F-1.4 NIkon lens in mint condition.