True to Life

The Trouble With That Picture Is…

It’s the summer holidays. It’s 11:15am and Mikey is angry. In fact, he’s FUMING.

Sat, arms crossed at a picnic table, his back to his parents, a hundred irritating questions buzz, whizz and explode in his brain.

  • “How could this have happened?”
  • “Why didn’t anyone see it coming?”
  • “Why can’t anyone fix it?”
  • “How could Mum and Dad have been so irresponsible?”

And the most vexing question of all. The one question his troubled mind keeps returning to over and over…

“Why did it have to happen today of all days?” A day that had started out so well.

07:45am – Yawn…Sunshine? Yeeesss! Tick.

08:00am – Breakfast? Cereal. Yum.

09:00am – Bags Packed? Oooof. Certainly are.

09:10am – Everyone in the car? ME? Dad? Mum? Little Sis? TICK. Tick. Tick. Tick.

09:40am – Everyone out of the car? ME? Dad? Mum? Little Sis? TICK. Tick. Tick. Tick.

09:41am – Ready to go? Oh yeesssssss! Tickety tick.

09:42am – Race you to the Entrance? MICHAEL!!!! Erm… no racing.

09:45am – Queue? Yay, close to the front. Go Team Mikey

10:00am – Are the doors broken? Please say no. Phew, here we go!

Finally. At long last. The day I’ve been looking forward to all summer. Could I be more excited? No way. Not a chance! I can picture it already. I can see it now. There’s going to be:

So much to learn. So much to do. So much to see.

A Day at the Zoo

It’s 11:15am again. Dad is sad. In fact, he’s sad and angry.

Sat, arms crossed at the picnic table, he’s looking at his son’s back. A hundred irritating questions buzz, whizz and explode in his brain.

  • “How could this have happened?”
  • “Why didn’t we see it coming?”
  • “Why can’t we fix it?”
  • “How could we have been so irresponsible?”

And the most vexing question of all. The one question his troubled mind keeps returning to over and over…

“Why did it have to happen today of all days?” 

Why now, when the holiday was going so well?

At home, his son Mikey (or Michael as he called him when he was being naughty) was a scientist, explorer, adventurer all rolled into one. He was also an animal lover – after all it was he who fed the rabbit and walked the dog. He absolutely adored animals. So, when it came to planning a day out that would tick every box, a trip to the Zoo, Mikey + Zoo = perfect match.

And it was no ordinary zoo either. It was one of the best in the country.

When they arrived, a large queue was beginning to form. While waiting, he listened to Mikey excitedly reeled off a long list of animals he was desperate to see; Snakes, spiders, monkeys, gorillas, giraffes, cheetahs, orangutans…. The list went on and on.

“Well we’d better get a move on then” he’d said to Mikey once they had paid.

First stop, snakes and lizards.

Uh oh.

He remembered the heat and humidity. He remembered his shades steaming up and everybody laughing. He remembered making a joke to his wife about cold-blooded reptiles and nobody laughing. He remembered the sweat trickling down his back. And he remembered the exact moment it all went wrong.

It was 10:47am. And it was all the fault of a blue-tongued skink.

CLICK. Insufficient Storage, the message said.

He blinked. Okay, he thought. Stay calm. Keep your face expressionless. Nothing to worry about. Just delete a few old pictures. Nobody will know.

“What’s that Mikey? No, nothing’s wrong mate. You go ahead. I’ll catch up.”

Insufficient storage? He should have known it would happen. It was the holidays after all and this holiday, especially, they’d taken photos just about everywhere they went and of just about everything they saw.

Click. It was just so easy. Click. It was just so convenient. Click. It was just so “one more dad”.

And, today, at the Zoo, every 5 seconds…Click…there was something new…Click…something wild…Click…something colourful…Click…to photograph…Click.

He trawled back through his phone’s storage looking for older photos to remove. The trouble was he couldn’t find any he didn’t want to keep. He liked them all. They all meant something.

As casually as he could, he sauntered over to his wife.

“We have a problem”, he whispered. “My phone storage is full. Got yours?”

His wife rummaged in her pocket. Then she rummaged in her bag. Then, looking pale and a little nervous, she put everything down and one really long rummage later announced, under her breath, that she didn’t have it. It must be back at the campsite.

He felt the blood drain from his face. Okay. We can still handle this. We’ll find somewhere to sit down. Get the kids an ice-cream. We’re adults, we can sort it.

It’s not a big problem.

It’s not a big issue.

It’s not…

The End of the World

11:15 Am. Two stressed looking adults, one very disappointed boy and one ice-cream covered girl are sat at a picnic table looking out over a wonderful shimmering lake surrounded by the chatter of monkeys and bird song.

Crowds of people walk by; people smiling, people having fun, people looking happy. People taking photos.

Photo Credit: Lisa Martin

On the picnic table is a solitary camera phone. Alone and unloved.

For nearly half an hour, the two adults had tried everything they could think of. The problem was they couldn’t think of much. They just relied on the technology to do it all for them. Click and done. They hadn’t thought about it, because they hadn’t needed to. Not ever. Not until this morning. Not until it was too late.

The problem, Michael, is this”, said dad eventually plucking up the courage.

  • Mum forgot her phone
  • We’ve taken too many pictures already this holiday
  • I don’t have any free space on my phone
  • I don’t have a good signal
  • I don’t have Wi-Fi
  • If I did have a signal or Wi-Fi, I don’t have anywhere to store the pictures anyway
  • I also don’t have a way of printing them right now
  • We don’t have any money to sort it out right now
  • We don’t have the time to sort it out right now
  • I don’t have the energy to listen to anymore complaining right now

“And besides,

  • They’re just photos.
  • It’s just a zoo.
  • And we’ll come back another day. Promise.”

Silence. A thumb-shaped cloud passes in front of the sun.

The trouble, DAD, is this”, roared Mikey’s back. Birds scatter. Monkeys hide.


Oh dear! Quietly, so as not to scare any animals, we’d just like to say Mikey.

The trouble is this:

  • Fun is photogenic
  • Holidays are mostly full of fun
  • Complicated technology can appear simple but be frightening when it goes wrong.
  • Complicated adults can appear frightened by it and look simple when it goes wrong.
  • You can’t rely on any of them when they meet. So…
  • Make plans
Sue Hastings
Photo Credit: Sue Hastings

And that’s where we’ll leave them.

It’s 11:17am on a long-awaited day at the zoo. A beautiful day. A photo-less day

Well, we would have if one other thing hadn’t happened later that day…

Dad lost his phone.

Only kidding. The day was bad enough already without throwing in the fact Dad had no phone insurance.