22 July 2007


I stopped at Brighton Beach today to photograph the pier in calm weather. My last pictures were taken during stormy weather in March and I wanted to show the contrast in the moods of Algoa Bay. She is sometimes calm and gentle but can turn into a vicious bitch with seemingly little provocation.

This is not a place where I feel safe, especially when I am alone, as someone was murdered here not too long ago by a group of young thugs. Of course I did draw comfort from the fact that I was accompanied by Harry.
While I was snapping away, constantly looking over my shoulder, a voice came from a car parked near to mine.
“Excuse me”

“Yes,” I replied as I turned around almost suffering from whiplash in the process. “Can I help you?” I said to the grizzled fifty something year old fellow, with very few teeth in his mouth and a disreputable looking beanie on his head who was approaching.

I took comfort in the fact that he did not look like the sort who was intent on doing grievous bodily harm. But then what do those types look like?

He proceeded to quiz me about my photography.

My initial thought was that he was going to ask me to take his picture and then somehow get the print to him, so I switched to monosyllabic mode. It’s what men do when they want to stifle discussion.

When I realized this was not the case, I became more amiable and explained that I photographing the pier to contrast it with the pic’s I had taken during the storm, when the waves were breaking over it. I then said I had just been photographing the flamingos.

Up to this point he seemed somewhat tense.

“So you just photograph nature?” he asked.

“Yes”, I replied and he visibly relaxed.

“Two of those guys fishing from the pier are my friends,” he said.

“That’s nice,” I replied trying not to sound too patronizing.

“They are just fishing”, he continued.

I looked in their direction and nodded my head “wisely”, as if he had imparted some profound knowledge. “Mmmmmmmm,” I thought, “I wonder what they are really doing?”

“So you just photograph nature?” he asked again.

“That is right” I replied, not bothering to enlighten him on all the subjects I photograph, such as perlemoen (abalone) poachers, anti social behaviour and anything else that takes my fancy.

Satisfied that I only photographed nature, he then proceeded to tell me that he worked on a farm near Seaview and somehow he brought the subject around to a development that had been stopped in the area, because of the effect it would have on the environment.

“That’s good,” I said. I then expressed my satisfaction with the fact that developers could no longer destroy the environment as they pleased and were required to first do an environmental impact assessment before any work could start.

That seemed to sour his mood.

He looked at me and said, “I am racist.”

I looked at him quizzically. “Yes,” he said, “I am racist, but that van Schalkwyk”, obviously referring to Marthinus van Schalwyk, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, “is worse….”

“Oh goody,” I thought this is going to get interesting.

With that he shook his head, pursed his lips and turned about and walked back to his car. As he climbed in he looked at me, waved and bade me a cheery farewell.

“What was that all about,” I thought.

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