GER­ALD JA­COBS

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - MEM­O­RIES

My late fa­ther would have been 100 this month. He was a pho­tog­ra­pher, a pre-dig­i­tal (which some now equate with pre­his­toric) pho­tog­ra­pher. This in no way rel­e­gates his work. In fact, it could be said to en­hance its qual­ity. For it still amazes me that the photography of long ago, even go­ing back a cen­tury or so — es­pe­cially go­ing back a cen­tury or so — is in­vari­ably more cap­ti­vat­ing than pic­tures taken in our day.

My dad re­garded photography sim­ply as a means of earn­ing a liv­ing. He was by no mea­sure an artist and never for a mo­ment as­pired to be one. And when, shortly be­fore he re­tired, his work was ex­hib­ited at both the Pho­tog­ra­phers’ Gallery and the Tate, he re­sponded with a kind of be­mused scep­ti­cism.

For him, it was just a job. Much more cen­tral to his per­son­al­ity was joke-telling. He’d joke about any­thing, any­time, any­where. His choice of ma­te­rial was com­pletely in­dis­crim­i­nate and if you didn’t laugh that was your prob­lem. He would at­tempt to joke his way into ad­van­ta­geous sit­u­a­tions and out of sticky ones.

Some­times, the job and the joke would over­lap. An early mem­ory is of a tele­phone call he made to the man who de­vel­oped and printed his film (now of course an ex­tinct craft) and telling him to “bloody well get a move on” with an over­due sup­ply of

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