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|| News Item: Posted 2001-09-28

A Postcard From Sydney
By Tim Clayton, Sydney Morning Herald

Four weeks ago somebody in the office dared to mention the word "Olympics". Since Samaranch told the world "Sydney were the best games ever" mentioning 'The Olympics' in the office was a bit like an episode of 'Fawlty Towers'. "Don't mention the Olympics, I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it!" Great as they were, we have been brain dead for eleven months. Sport? Who cares! Ring up a minority sports and you'd get the usual answer, "Not this year mate! Were in Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Timbuktu! Anywhere but Sydney! "No worries mate, I'll go and have another coffee and get over it, don't feel like shooting anyway!"

The word 'Olympics' was mentioned for two reasons, firstly, 'one year on' was coming up and secondly the Australian equivalent of The Pulitzers, The Walkley's were due in. Reluctantly we dug out the old cuttings, dared to look again at the volume of images, started editing, talking, talking some more. Slowly the images fanned the embers in our minds rekindling the enthusiasm for sport, for photography, for life!

"Hey, look at these papers, we did do a good job!" "Wow, look at all these great pictures! This was fantastic!" "Bollocks, the paper looked great for eighteen days, why do they use pictures so bloody small now! "Hey lets fight again and argue again and call subs names again!" Even without counseling, we were back!

The entries were edited and re edited, deadlines put back from pleading photographers until finally, last Monday, we had all the entry's in. We all felt good, real good, ready to make a difference, move forward and change the world again! But the next day, somebody beat us too it. The late news showed the pictures live in Australia. We all sat in the comfort of our own homes, watching the world as we know it, change forever

Over twenty years ago, as a young photographer on a regional paper in England, I wondered around the tiny village of Lockerbie in Scotland in the dark of night, tripping over limbs as the scent of aviation fuel filled my nostrils, the wreckage of the Pan Am flight, bombed by terrorist lay scattered for miles around.

A few weeks later some thirteen year old kids in Army uniforms at a road block in Kampala, Uganda, pointed their machine guns in my direction, I handed them my wallet, they handed it back, empty. Enough was enough, I couldn't cope mentally. I decided there and then I wanted to be a sports photographer, the life of an ostrich was better for me!

Words fail me now, I sit here trying to type and be funny, but I can't, tears well in my eye's, I feel so helpless, sad, angry, confused, guilty even, yes, guilty. My soul within bleeds for all the people who lost their lives and the family's and friends who lost love one's. From us all here in Australia, we send our sincere sympathy!

I just sit hear wondering about everything, life? Shaking my head. What does it all mean anyway? What a horrible, horrible selfish, self-centered race we are, even me, especially me!

I see images of millions dying of starvation each year and I flick the switch on the TV, it's easier! But hey, I don't mind seeing some buff head who cost the price of a billion meals because of his great ball skills! I shake my head. We, the human race, rape, pillage and plunder the planet on which we live for our convenience, so there'll be nothing left for our great grand kids but do we care? Do we bollocks! I shake my head. And what do I do about it? Bugger all really!

Anyway, it's the footy finals on Saturday I'm too busy! And then we kill each other! Why? I don't know! I want to bang my head against a brick wall! I make my living photographing the greatest escapism of all, sport! And what does it all mean really, anyway? Absolutely fuck all!

Gone to the pub to have a beer! Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Love to you all! Tim Clayton Sydney Morning Herald Sports Photographer.

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