an idiot in london


Sunday, 18th June.
Sympathetic light

The evening sun was slanting through the windows of the Dawes Road Palace living room, so I seized the opportunity to take a photo of the front of the flat in some "sympathetic light". It's not really much to photograph - a brown brick facade with a few windows. Nothing to really distinguish it from the flat on either side. The light was warm, so I set off in search of some photos that would epitomise Fulham at sunset. I wandered down streets of houses standing shoulder to shoulder, laughter echoing down from bedrooms high above me. Every now and then the buzz of the commentary of a soccer match cut through the evening. Before I knew where I was, I found myself at Fulham FC's home ground, and cut through the path to the bank of the Thames. The path leads all the way to Hammersmith, and beyond. The evening was a warm, ochre reprise of the stinging heat of the afternoon. Even the horrific waterside developments - a scientific experiment gone wrong - didn't seem so ugly in this sympathetic light. The sun, low in the sky, bounced off the ripples of the Thames. I stopped and looked over the edge of the embankment. Low tide left the slimy gunk of the bank exposed. Looking into the sun the sediment and the river itself looked black, as if covered by an oil slick. Ducks dipped their beaks, or perched on the oil spill. I kept walking. A young couple were sitting on a bench. She was wearing a Fulham soccer top, and gazing adoringly at him. He squinted into the sun, giving the impression he'd rather be elsewhere. Hmm, looks like she hasn't learned the three rules for making a man happy. Now I've been pushing my three-point plan for some time now, and it has met with incredulity and astonishment. Criticism invited it round to tea and it went to the movies with ridicule. When I say to women that there are three things they need to do to make a man happy, they say don't you mean one - sex? I shake my head wearily and explain to them that there are three things women need to do to make a man happy. Sex, sex, sex? the women ask. No, no, no, I reply. One - never ask him what he's thinking. If he wanted to tell you, he would. Two - keep him fed. A hungry man is not a happy man. And three - let him spend as long on the loo as he wants. Don't ask him if he's ok, don't tell him to hurry up. He's happy, don't spoil it. The young couple sat there as I walked by, not saying a word. A few minutes later I heard the sound of joggers behind me. I made room for them, and two women and a bloke panted past. One of the women had, how shall I put it, an ample posterior. But she was wearing lycra, and a g-string. Two items of clothing that can cause irreperable damage in the wrong hands. Or cheeks, as it were. Finally I reached a point where the scenery all made sense, and I got out my camera. I framed up (make the camera do all the work!) and squeezed off the last frame on the film. I don't know if it'll turn out ok, I'll find out soon enough. Happy that I had finished the film, I turned for home. Shadows were streaking the riverside. Then I remembered. I remembered a summer when I wandered the streets of East Launceston in search of "sympathetic light", in search of something that summed up living in Launceston in the summer. I remembered that you can't photograph the smell of a barbecue, or the sound of a party, or the feeling you get when someone smiles at you. You can't photograph the thing that makes you feel like you belong. An elderly couple went by, he was pushing her in a wheelchair.

A billboard featuring Anna Kournikova snapped me out of my mood of self indulgence. An advertisement for sports bras. "Only the ball should bounce." Never mind the ball! Cor-nikova!