Thursday, March 09, 2006

(157) National Geographic cover stories, husband and wife reporting collaborations (Double Acts) and English explorers

For the return flight the next day I arrived at check-in two hours before departure and again specified an aisle seat.
I then added that I would prefer one next to the window seat rather than one of the type that they allocated me, which was on the other side of the aisle forming part of the four central seats. I asked for a change because I was concerned that people would be clambering over me if I sat in the middle.

But this was nonsensical, for with such a seat the likelihood of being asked by one’s neighbour to let him/her by is just the same as where I asked to be put.

Nevertheless, the alteration occurred and I was given 63H.
I think this was the only such seat that they had vacant, although I am not certain about that.

Not long into the flight I saw that the lady next to me was reading a book about the explorer Shackleton and had a National Geographic bag with her. I asked if she worked for them. She replied that she did, as a photographer, and was also married to a writer for the Geographic.

Her name was Annie Griffiths Belt and she was travelling to a museum on Scott of the Antarctic in Cambridge to do research for a National Geographic book on Shackleton, as these two men had cooperated on an expedition.

I asked if she knew Emory Kristof and she said that she had, for over twenty years.

Kristof made clear to me that in the event of my expedition to film the octopus proving successful, then since National Geographic owned the cameras, they should have the right to make me a first offer for use of images.
Success would certainly mean them wanting a cover photograph and story in the magazine.

Ms Griffiths Belt said that the current issue, December 1998, had her photograph of the ancient Middle Eastern city of Petra on the cover.
It may be seen above.
There was an accompanying article by her husband, Assistant Editor Don Belt, with more of her photos.

I told Kristof that were we to be successful then what I was really keen to get was the book of the expedition. This was to be co-authored by my wife, and some photographs taken by her would appear in it. Ms Belt gave me her card.

Discovering that I did not have one of mine with which to reciprocate, I instead gave her a copy of my wife’s last collection of poems: Double Act.

This had been one of three of her books which she had given me as intended gifts for Kristof. I had given him the other two, The Literary Companion to Sex and Journeys to the Underworld.
But I only noticed the poems after he and I had parted.

Still, they found their way to a National Geographic photographer.

On December 29th 1998, the film Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail was broadcast on British TV.
In it Jones locates and achieves the Holy Grail in a town called Alexretta.

My wife remarked that it looked like Petra, and the credits confirmed that it was indeed there that the final scenes had been shot.

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