15 May, 2004


I bought a cheap digital camera. The cheapest compact digital camera a first year student loan could buy. Must have been September 2003. I felt guilty at having spent over sixty pounds on a single luxury item, and even more at the schoolboy error of throwing out all of the packaging, receipt and warranty only for the screen to stop working by Christmas. So I told people that I’d bought it that way, second hand, for next to nothing. That made things seem better. Covering up the crime.

It was fine without the screen. That just meant that when the batteries ran out there was no way to re-set the date and time, or adjust the settings from the obviously sensible default of 1MP to the excitingly extravagant 3MP maximum. It still happily took appalling pictures of harshly lit and unflatteringly inebriated students around kitchen tables laid out with the cheapest bottles of own-brand vodka at parties that seemed fun at the time. What more did anyone need?

So one friday night in May, after weeks of ever later starts and ever later stops, and a few too many drinks mixed with red bull, something strange happened. Something that had never happened to a student before. The sun rose.

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It rose over the Bristol Bridge, where we would feed the ducks outside the halls of residence.

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Over the bombed shell of St Peter’s Church, in a once — before the war — bustling Bristol city centre. Now a scruffy corner of grass and seventies low-rise offices.

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And the old Courage Brewery, since demolished.

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Where the floating harbour meanders around through the Castle Park.

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Over Valentine’s Bridge.

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And the first train from London.

And I started taking pictures of all the places all around. And didn’t stop. Even though that cheap compact camera did, just two months later, before it had even passed its warranty.

More photos from 15 May 2004 in this flickr set.

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