“Don’t you remember?” My mother reminded me. “There was that teacher who was caught taking ‘up-skirt’ photos with his camera in a shopping bag…”
I don’t care what anyone says – no guy’s upbringing is so liberal that it isn’t even ever-so-slightly weird to hear your mother casually use the phrase ‘up-skirt’. In context. Over dinner.
Before I could double-take or mug to the non-existent camera and deliver a sorely needed bon mot in the style of Groucho Marx – (“you think that’s bizarre, get a load o’ this insertion…”) – my sister added that “there was a more recent case – a guy standing at the bottom of the escalators, photographing women above…”
This discussion had begun when I happened to mention that our local shopping centre had banned photography. I had discovered this a mere few hours earlier. At our local shopping centre.
Here’s what happened:
I had just taken a photo on my phone. I was on my way to the bank, but before I got there, a shopfront had caught my eye – a fairly new one, I guessed, because I’d never noticed it before – and I decided I needed a photo of it. So I took a photo, and as I was putting my phone back into my pocket, the figure of a white-shirted security guard, rapidly bearing down upon me, caught my eye.
“Sir, did you just take a photo?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied, for I had, and I’d been none too surreptitious about it: no camera concealed in a loaf of bread; no hiding behind bushes or a pylon; no newspaper with the eyes cut out of the front page photo of somebody else’s face. I’d brazenly and boldly pulled the phone out and taken the photo. I suspected it might be out-of-focus, but it would suffice.
“This shopping centre no longer allows the taking of photographs,” the security guard informed me.
“Oh, really?” I asked, genuinely surprised to learn this. I knew you weren’t allowed to photograph train stations, but I didn’t know other public places were also banning photography now.
“May I ask what you took a photograph of?” the security guard asked.
“Um…” I said.
I’ll often stop and snap a quick photo if something I see sparks a thought, particularly if it’s something I might want to blog about. But this wasn’t one of those things.
“This is actually a bit embarrassing to admit,” I said. “I recently made friends with someone called Louise. Her nickname’s Lou Lou. She happens to be a lesbian. I wanted to photograph the name of that shop and send it to her. I thought she’d get a laugh out of it…”
Whether or not Louise was going to get a laugh out of it, the security guard certainly did. “You’re alright, mate,” he said, shaking his head at me. “Off you go.”
“Cheers,” I said, and headed to the bank.
“What was the name of the shop?” my sister asked.
I told her. Everyone laughed. And I realised this was now one of those things I was going to blog about.