Tit for Tat

Post CCLXXV

Here’s the story of youth, insults, and a blancmange.

Do I really look like a woman? Sure, you can’t accurately answer that, but my confidence is so shaken, a firm and loud ‘no’ from you would do me the world of good. There I was, just walking down the street, and I overheard a group of young men whisper, rather loudly, “Look at him! Look at his hair! He looks like a proper woman!” Oh. That’s a nice thing to say to a stranger. It wouldn’t have been as bad if it hadn’t happened a day after a young girl, who I didn’t know, mistook me for her mother. I envy those who are comfortable in their own skin. That really shook me, that. I know I have long hair, swept over the top, but I was shooting for ‘90s Californian beach bum, not 2016 failed femme fatale. I mean, these young boys were no prized peaches. What with their spiky hair, skin tight checked shirts and latest expensive footwear apparel. I’m trying my best, here. Those boys roll outta bed with that bad boy steamy charm already dolloped across their faces, whereas I have to make a blancmange outta a pile of steamy dung. Those boys might get all the girls with their looks, but I have known many girls who thought my hair was just darling. But one can’t let things like this stand in the way. I’m more hurt by the little girl who thought I was her mum…

And in any case, why are their words so hurtful? Who said looking like a woman was a bad thing? Is that sexist? Aren’t they implying that me looking like a woman is a bad thing? Not that I do, nor do I care a great deal. Isn’t it ironic that they spend all these hours doing themselves up, only to come out looking like preening twits? Why is that appealing to women, according to their metric? Well done, you’ve spent 20 minutes putting gel on your hair. I spent 20 minutes straightening mine. I think you’ll find women are far more attracted to a man who A, doesn’t insult others unnecessarily, and B, can use a pair of straighteners, and, may I say, rather well. My hair is well lovely, leave it alone. ‘Oh, great, he can straighten my hair.’ I’d be delighted to. I’d rather do that than spend a night at a bawdy discotheque with all your pop drugs and seedy tuneskis. So I apologise, young boys, if I don’t meet your metric of a manly man, but I don’t believe in such outdated nonsense in any case. What is a man? I argue it takes a bigger man to wear his hair long than follow the trend and stick it up. Unless you’re going for a punk Mohican, then stick up away. I’ve seen that look a lot, lately. It’s making a comeback. I saw a punk with a haircut like that the other day, on a Segway. True story. Don’t think he’s got the point of punk…

I won’t bore you with the other kid this week who insulted my hair. “Oi, dickhead, with the stupid hair, I’m talking to you! Come here, you big girl!” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had an eight-year-old girl say that to me before. I just ignored her. She wasn’t happy. I think she has issues. Big issues. Actual issues. Not ‘big issues,’ the newspaper. Although I’m sure she’ll have many of them when she grows up if that’s her attitude.

I was out photographing when I encountered the thuggish lads. I was having a pleasant day, until then. I’m very meticulous when it comes to shooting. I research the weather endlessly the night before. Some do call me anal. I like to think I’m prepared. I can’t photograph in the rain. I don’t like being wet. Except when I’m having a shower. Obviously. It’d be a bit weird if I didn’t like being wet in the shower. It’s a pretty wet thing in the first place…

I also check the wind speeds. You see, if it’s real windy, I’d need a hood, but the only jacket I have with a hood is real thin, so if it’s cold, I’d need to put on a jumper and an overcoat. However, by the time my jumper, jacket and coat are on, I’m starting to look a bit like the Michelin Man, which does restrict movement somewhat.

I also spend far too much time cleaning my camera. Not that weird, I’ll grant you, but I do go over the bits I’ve cleaned with different types of cloth to ensure I have all the bits and pieces cleaned up. I won’t let others do it, though. You have to brush the cloth over the lens in a certain way, using certain strokes at certain times. And, of course, that’s just the lens. The screen needs a different method. Some would say that this makes me a rather sad individual. I agree. But, if I didn’t do this, I’d get all itchy and it’d bug me endlessly. I couldn’t get any work done knowing there could be a speck of dust on the lens. If I forgot to clean it off the night before a shoot, I’d be dreaming about cleaning it off all night, like a kid dreaming about his presents on the night before Christmas. Surprisingly, I do have weirder dreams. I had one this week where, for the entire dream, I was strapped to a chair having to endure a young girl screaming at me. That was it. Honestly. Come to think of it, it might have been that girl who called me a dickhead…

The next day, I had a dream I climbed Mount Everest, but when I got back down, the wife had remarried. It’s been a strange couple of days. I was only gone a week.

I love all this, though. I love cleaning my camera and picking the lenses I want to use. Screwing them all together and altering all the settings. Pushing all the buttons and rejigging various bits and pieces. It’s my ecstasy. I’d assume. I’ve never done it, but I hear good things. Hang on, that came out wrong. Stay in school, kids…

I plan my route. I’ve been photographing a building project for nine months. It was my last visit. All finished now. No more young boys insulting my hairstyle. I swear down, if I didn’t look about 15, it wouldn’t happen. 27 next year, too. Ah, well. I had a nice time, anyway. I made a nice time, of it. I was slightly concerned, though.

You see, the buildings I was photographing were houses, and the new residents have already started moving in. And there I was, hood up, a shady looking cretin, with a camera with a 42 times zoom. I was a tad concerned what the reaction would be if any of the new homeowners had seen me. Although I imagine plenty of screaming would be involved.

I’d love to get into photography, even though I’m terrible at it, but you just can’t in towns like this. Industrial born and bred. No one could make money from creative endeavours, here. Your entire job options are fast food worker or office worker. That’s it. Yet I love my town. I’m never leaving. It’s where my heart is. Embedded into the very fabric of this place. So many people leave for the big cities, but not I. I can’t. It would break my heart to leave. And we’re not London. Or Manchester. Or Birmingham. We don’t have much going for ourselves. We’re not a big draw for anyone or anything. Just a quiet little place where all that ever happens is that things keep falling apart. But I don’t care. I’ll persevere. Camera in hand, as always.

Some would say this makes me an idiot. You wouldn’t get abuse photographing in a big city, or at all. True. But what is life? Surely you have to enjoy it. I don’t enjoy being in a big city. It’s too noisy. I’d rather stay here and get the occasional queer remark than be surrounded by Cockneys. That’s what all Londoners are, right? It’s what we believe in the north, at least. Well, the southerners think we’re all Geordies. Tit for tat, really…

I wonder what I’ll dream about tonight.

Probably chased out of town by a gang of Segway punks…

American author, Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), once wrote: ‘If your brains were dynamite, there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.’

Peace Out :|:


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To Contrive & Jive
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