COLUMN: November 29, 2012

I HAVE been writing these columns for three years now. That’s roughly 150 columns detailing my various inadequacies in dealing with my environment, umbrellas, other people, and public transport.

All of these columns are freely available on the internet – a comprehensive body of work explaining beyond doubt that if you are in difficulty you might want to try a three-day-old infant or piece of cheese before approaching me.

So, if anything, it was the tourist who asked for my help who was to blame. It is not my fault she did not do the due diligence.

Where I work we get a lot of tourists snapping pictures. It is a consequence of living in the British Empire’s greatest port and the home of Sonia. “Look,” the visitors say, in a variety of languages. “That is the very spot where John Lennon was once unnecessarily waspish with regard to the jumper George Harrison’s mother knitted.”

I walked down Castle Street on my way home from work the other afternoon in an exaggeratedly higgledy-piggledy fashion. An observer might have thought that I was attempting to lose a tail, or to confuse a sniper. But the effort was to avoid appearing in the line of photographic sight of about a dozen different visitors dotted about.

I am not averse to having my photograph taken. I do not believe the camera traps one’s soul, although the example of Katie Price suggests there might be a cumulative effect. It is more the fact that I would hate to appear on somebody’s holiday snaps as “local colour”.

“And this is a drunken man,” the photographer would tell his bored friend in his native tongue. “I could tell he was drunk from the exaggeratedly higgledy-piggledy way he walked.” Liverpool has had a tough enough time clawing back its reputation. It doesn’t need me as a representative.

In any case, I had managed to avoid posterity on Castle Street, and had turned into South John Street, my zig-zag exertions fading from memory, when I was stopped.

“Sir!” said the young woman. “Could you please?”

“I’ve already bought one…” I said, instinctively.

“Could you help?”

I turned. She was waving her phone. Just beyond her, in front of a massive picture of the Beatles, were three of her friends. Before I knew it the phone was in my hand and the young female tourist had joined her comrades.

I was trapped between two elements of my nature: the one which does not want to take a picture of strangers because I will foul up, and the one which wants to take a really good picture because it will show I am a cut above the average man.

I organised the four friends using the medium of mime into the same poses as the Beatles behind them, framed the shot, and then…

Not a clue. I had no idea what to press. If it had been a camera, I would have been fine. Had it been that phone that everybody has, which I am not going to mention because it gets enough free advertising, I would have been fine.

“Erm, what do I press?” I asked. The woman who accosted me came across. “You touch there,” she indicated vaguely, and rushed back into her position.

I touched the button on the glass. The phone took me back to its home screen. “Erm, sorry,” I said, pointing at the phone.

The woman came back, fixed it, and pointed again at the screen, before returning to her position as Ringo.

I pressed something else. And I accessed her gallery of photos. “Erm,” I said. She came back and gave me a funny look, the international code for “Why are you looking through my pictures, you pervert?” She reset the camera and returned to her friends, realisation slowly dawning on her.

I pressed a third button. Nothing happened. There was no way I could ask her a fourth time, so I told the women to huddle in for one more, framed the shot poorly, and pressed the button again.

I handed the phone back, and rushed away, reasoning that if the picture had not been taken it would not matter as it would have been terrible anyway.

Such is the exaggeratedly higgledy-piggledy nature of my thought processes.

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