The ice rat scuffed at the frozen tundra, came up with something apparently satisfactory, and scampered off to its burrow. Four more days of filming and we could head north to the Serengeti, that would be warmer for my old bones. I hitched up and rearranged my knees as discreetly as possible, sending two of the juveniles tumbling back into the burrow and ruining the shots we’d been waiting for all day, shit! Mutterings from the crew; the words ‘past it’ and ‘decrepit bloody baggage’ were allowed to float my way. So much for respect.
Thirty years of wildlife filming, international awards, that 1983 sequence with the polar bear when I got so close you could see right up its nose. We used proper film then, not this digital crap. You lined up your shot, framed it, and just waited, waited, because it might be your last one on your last roll. They said I had an instinct for the best frame, the best light, timing. When I was a kid I took a photo of a spider with dew on its web. We sent it to a competition in a kids’ magazine but it got rejected because they said it hadn’t been taken by a child. I was prouder of that than I would have been of winning!
But now here I was with a bunch of upstart ignoramuses freezing my arse off in a field for a few seconds of rat footage. What’s it all about eh?
©suzanne conboy-hill 2010