Byron. Tuesday, 12.15pm.
Oh dear. A traffic jam.
The Jeep in front of me – an all-terrain vehicle capable of impressive speed – is crawling along so slowly I’m expecting its reversing lights to come on at any moment. Must be frustrating.
The tinted driver’s window comes down and a bejewelled hand with very red nails flicks ash from a cigarette before rising in what seems to be an exasperated gesture of ‘What the…?’
Tension is mounting in Jonson Street.
I’m staying cool, though. I have New Calendonian reggae loping from my Superoo’s speakers and a can of coconut water in my cup holder. (I also have vodka in my toolkit in case of emergency.) Everything I need. I’m in no rush. Not really. But, it would be nice to get out of Byron before sunset…
I’m here in the land of the SUV traffic jam because I have a mission: to get my film developed. Yes, folks, I’m a film user. I have a camera that does not send messages, get the weather forecast, make friends or shine a torch. My camera takes photos.
I’m not a luddite, though. I’m pretty handy with a remote control and can do drawings on my iPad, but I do love some older technologies. Like turntables. And books. And film cameras. I’m about half a block from the last camera place on the North Coast that develops film. Could be there in an hour…
There’s no traffic movement. We’re stopped. A roadside sign says there’s a roundabout being constructed ahead. Cars are banked up as far as I can see. The woman in the Jeep sounds her horn. That should work.
I do, of course, have thousands of photos on hard drives, phones, laptops, USBs and DVDs. I rarely look at them after the immediate post-shoot check. Then, one day, I was given an old film camera. Quaint. I bought a roll of film, spent an hour working out how to insert it into the camera, and took a photo of a wallaby in my yard.
The problem for me right now is parking. There is no parking. Maybe I should have parked in Lennox…
A bloke gets out from the Nissan Patrol in front of the Jeep. He’s a little bloke with a hairy chest, Speedos and wrap-around sunnies. He strides towards the Jeep, whose window is now shut. Oh dear. Tension is mounting in Jonson Street.
When I took the photo of the wallaby, I immediately looked at the back of the camera to check out the photo. It wasn’t there, of course. I felt a pang of frustration. I am conditioned to immediate gratification. If I don’t get it, I get angry. Like everyone, I’m in a hurry. Or, used to be…
The little bloke is not carrying a gun; I don’t see much bulging in his Speedos. (As I said, he’s a little bloke.) Anyway, this is Byron, land of latte, Pilates and melanoma, not some gun-saturated outpost of the worn-out west.
There is no parking anywhere, but, seeing as I’m not moving, I reckon I could run into the camera shop, drop off the film, and be back in my car before the jam moves.
Tomorrow, I will pick up photos. (Hell, I may still be here.) I won’t look at them immediately; I’ll drive to Lennox (where I can park), go to a cafe, order a coffee, and then open the envelope of photos. I love the anticipation. Delayed gratification is a pleasure to savour.
The little bloke taps on the Jeep window. It slides open. His face breaks into a smile as that bejewelled hand snakes out and encircles his neck. It is followed by a face that kisses him on the cheek, leaving a bright red mark.