Monday, July 18, 2011

To be different to everyone else

She told me that all through the first part of the concert at the studio she was distracted by a photograph on a cabinet: a wedding photograph that seemed to have a thick grey smear across the mouths of the young happy couple.

As the rest of us listened to Sondheim, Mozart, Cole Porter and Poulenc, she was so bothered that this photograph had a smear across the mouths as if deliberately placed there, as a sign of disapproval or even mourning, and therefore could pay attention to none of the songs. Had something happened to the photograph (such as mould) or was it a trick of what might have been a strong Sydney afternoon light in the park on the day that they had married -- a light that had also, she then noticed, cast a shadow across the bodies of the couple (perhaps a topiary, she was thinking, or thick cropped conifer on a rise on a hill)? It was just a wonder that someone had thought to place the couple in such a shadow for their photograph but, as she knew from bitter experience, so many weddings are photographed by well-meaning but incompetent (and unpaid) enthusiastic relatives or friends.

When the room lights came on for the break, and just as she was about to point out the grey on the photograph to me, she realised that the grey had in fact been a shadow that had been cast not by trees or mould but by the improvised stage lights that had silhouetted a narrow necked vase on the dresser and that the couple were actually a very ordinary looking couple and that the setting of the photograph no more remarkable or distinctive or strange than any normal looking photograph of a young couple in a park, and that this had disappointed her, strangely (as she said) because she had expected this singer with her Balinese puppets and cardboard Louis XVI mirror surrounds and Chinese vases to be different, she said, to everyone else.

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