Sunday, 18th June.
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!