A Monkey's Revenge - My Blog

Lady Luck and Supergran

Oops! I seem to have missed one of my weekly blog posts :-( I had intended to write a piece about how luck plays an important part in a photographers work. In fact leaving this for a week has proven my point once again on another assignment.

My first post would have been about my trip to the Forest of Dean for The Sunday Telegraph. Now I'm normally a very lucky photographer and things often happen which used to give me the nickname 'Jammy Robertson'! On this particular occasion Lady Luck deserted me unfortunately. The job was a public meeting about the proposed transference of some of our national forests to a new charity to be set up by the government. As far as the Forest of Dean HOOF protesters,(Hands Off Our Forest), are concerned, transferring ownership from The Forestry Commission to a charity amounts to a sell-off. I think they have a good point but local MP Mark Harper had called the meeting to explain why he and his government want the transfer to go ahead.

You can probably imagine that Coleford was a bit of a hot landing zone for Mark Harper. There was also anger at the meeting being held in a venue far too small for all the public to safely attend. Many of them had to wait outside in the rain and they resorted to angry shouts and singing in an effort to make their voices heard. It was obvious that things might turn ugly when the MP left, despite the presence of lots of police officers. I left as the MP was being interviewed by the Beeb and the protesters all gathered outside. It quickly became obvious that there were two exits to the building-a side door and a front entrance. I favoured the side door, but kept an eye on the front as well. Eventually I noticed there were far more police on the front door and I changed my mind just in time to see the chairman of the meeting leaving from the front door. Big mistake! With only 2 policemen outside the side door, the MP chose to leave by that exit and was immediately surrounded by the angry crowd. I heard the noise and legged it to the side door, followed by around ten police officers! Too late unfortunately as Mark Harper was pelted with eggs and then hurried away by more police who had been hidden inside the building!

This last week luck deserted me one more time. I had been shooting a job for The Guardian when The Daily Telegraph picture editor rang to send me to photograph a little old lady who had 'handbagged' six robbers sledge-hammering a jewellers shop in Northampton in broad daylight! The story and some excellent footage had gone viral and was all over the TV and the internet, even going global. 'Supergran' had other ideas about her fame though and didn't welcome it at all. I arrived just as the few photographers there were all 'chimping' the backs of their cameras. Thats always gives a sinking feeling and a quick chat with Pete Corns from The Daily Express confirmed that he had indeed got the shot of her in the bag and I'd missed it all by about ten minutes-what rotten luck!

Only one thing to do in these circumstances-a long wait for 'Supergran' to return from her next mission into town. Several hours later she did make a brief 6 second return to her front door so that along with all the other photographers who turned up after me, I was able to get a photo. A lot of the time you are able to 'make your own luck' by being crafty, but sometimes fate does intervene. A few weeks back illustrates this point nicely. Several photographers had been camped outside referee Sian Massey's house for two days. I turned up and within an hour managed to get a photo as she left the house. One photographer had chosen that moment to go and answer the call of nature and it all happened so fast that the TV crew and two other photographers all missed out. Lady Luck, Fortuna, call her what you will-she can be really mean sometimes!

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