âDonât you remember?â My mother reminded me. âThere was that teacher who was caught taking âup-skirtâ photos with his camera in a shopping bagâ¦â
I donât care what anyone says â no guyâs upbringing is so liberal that it isnât even ever-so-slightly weird to hear your mother casually use the phrase âup-skirtâ. 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 â (âyou think thatâs bizarre, get a load oâ this insertionâ¦â) â my sister added that âthere was a more recent case â a guy standing at the bottom of the escalators, photographing women aboveâ¦â
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.
Hereâs 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 â a fairly new one, I guessed, because Iâd never noticed it before â 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.
âSir, did you just take a photo?â he asked.
âYes,â I replied, for I had, and Iâd 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 elseâs face. Iâd brazenly and boldly pulled the phone out and taken the photo. I suspected it might be out-of-focus, but it would suffice.
âThis shopping centre no longer allows the taking of photographs,â the security guard informed me.
âOh, really?â I asked, genuinely surprised to learn this. I knew you werenât allowed to photograph train stations, but I didnât know other public places were also banning photography now.
âMay I ask what you took a photograph of?â the security guard asked.
âUmâ¦â I said.
Iâll often stop and snap a quick photo if something I see sparks a thought, particularly if itâs something I might want to blog about. But this wasnât one of those things.
âThis is actually a bit embarrassing to admit,â I said. âI recently made friends with someone called Louise. Her nicknameâs Lou Lou. She happens to be a lesbian. I wanted to photograph the name of that shop and send it to her. I thought sheâd get a laugh out of itâ¦â
Whether or not Louise was going to get a laugh out of it, the security guard certainly did. âYouâre alright, mate,â he said, shaking his head at me. âOff you go.â
âCheers,â I said, and headed to the bank.
âWhat was the name of the shop?â my sister asked.
I told her. Everyone laughed. And I realised this was now one of those things I was going to blog about.