Friday, 29 October 2010

Foreign Bodies

I don't usually take photographs of strangers.

Here's the truth: I'm trying to read my book but am distracted and start staring. It's something I try to not do because it's, well, rude. But I get drawn in by what's happening in front of me. Especially on holiday. And other people are fascinating aren't they? Even more interesting if you can't understand what they're saying so it's just the actions you've got to go on. Endless entertainment for an onlooker like me. And I get fixated on tan depth, worry about the pale skinned in the midday heat, imagine the lives of those I'm absorbed by and wonder about national body type. Is there such a thing? 

Everyone is crammed onto this narrow strip of riverside 'beach'. I am sitting in the only patch of shade in a grassy picnic area. It's busy. Out of shot to the left is an ancient bridge.  Those without fear, and happy to perform to an expectant audience, will jump from it. They will position themselves carefully: toes over the edge, arms out to the side. Wait. Ready. Deep breath. Some are trying this trick for the first time, others are old hands. One or two apply extra drama to this feat and try a somersault. 

There's a thwack when a body hits the water. 

Fifteen or so friends dominate the action and I'm trying to work out the relationships. But who belongs to whom I'm not sure. They communicate in 'shout' led by a tubby, moustachioed majordomo who directs his crowd from a spot in the river. Today the river is his. 

Can you see two heads just above the girl with the ginger hair? They are being carried along on the fast flowing current which pulls the willing towards a large rock. The game is to try to climb on to the rock either by grabbing it or being helped up by someone already there. It's not easy to do for the tug of the current is so strong it will pull you right past. It's a good place to stop to catch your breath.

The water is cold. So cold. 

In a few minutes the scene will change and so will the atmosphere. The woman right in the very middle of the photograph - she's just about to lose her wedding ring.

I should get back to my book.


  1. I do the exact same thing. And can do it for far long than is technically polite.

  2. LPC

    It's good to know I'm not the only one.