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Rob C

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Figures
« on: August 16, 2017, 04:42:57 AM »

Wouldn't it have been nice if the Trump-related threads' viewer/poster numbers had been applied to photography...

It seems to confirm my doubts about all such websites: photography, as in doing it, is a poor relation to all the gear and associated stuff that depends more on money than talent. All of us - more or less - can buy reasonable cameras, shame about most of the photographs that flow from such machines... Then along comes Oscar and blows the über-crowd and their do-dahs into the water with three great shots made using nothing more than a good eye and a cheapo photo-toy.

Photography sems to have lost its bearings these days. From mind-numbing, pin-sharp renditions of large expanses of nothing to equally inscrutable close-ups of stones and streams and dead leaves, we traverse to contorted, interchangeable humans in space and people transmuted into plastic via the kind administrations of artists both before and after the event of the click.

Poor old HC-B would have wept. Correction: he'd have sold his Leicas and devoted the remainder of his life to drawing and paint long before he did. Weston? He'd have known where, and into whom, to stuff his peppers.

It used to be tough, yet a pleasure, an aspiration; being a 'dedicated' photographer today must be an extreme form of masochism. Unless, of course, you have nothing with which to compare your situation.

Our gardeners are just roaring past my office window doing the sunburned "lawns"... I wonder whether their heads are throbbing too, with desire to be photographers. Who knows?

;-)

Rob

David Sutton

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Re: Figures
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 10:36:40 PM »

Hello Rob.
I won't completely disagree, but would point out that a lot of the posts on Trump II and climate change are the work of trolls. I ran a short thread on "climate change deniers" and closed it before the loonies took over.  Loonie is a technical term. I'm sure you understand my meaning. Pages of mindless blather talking to a mirror. I certainly wouldn't like to see them taking over any photography related discussion. I hear there are other websites for that sort of thing.
As to gear obsession and third rate work. That really took off with Kodak, but probably is as old as photography and maybe we are now just more aware of it with the internet.
What about a comparison to painting? There are some very good painters around. But for every good one there is a great army of bad ones. Every amateur exhibition I go to has a few good pieces and a lot of poor ones. It has always been so. On the other hand, the not-so-good painters are enjoying themselves with something harmless and everyone has to start somewhere. And mass participation generates interest and lowers the price of materials for all. I don't think the good painters feel despondent about that.
David
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Rob C

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Re: Figures
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2017, 04:30:38 PM »

Hello Rob.
I won't completely disagree, but would point out that a lot of the posts on Trump II and climate change are the work of trolls. I ran a short thread on "climate change deniers" and closed it before the loonies took over.  Loonie is a technical term. I'm sure you understand my meaning. Pages of mindless blather talking to a mirror. I certainly wouldn't like to see them taking over any photography related discussion. I hear there are other websites for that sort of thing.
As to gear obsession and third rate work. That really took off with Kodak, but probably is as old as photography and maybe we are now just more aware of it with the internet.
What about a comparison to painting? There are some very good painters around. But for every good one there is a great army of bad ones. Every amateur exhibition I go to has a few good pieces and a lot of poor ones. It has always been so. On the other hand, the not-so-good painters are enjoying themselves with something harmless and everyone has to start somewhere. And mass participation generates interest and lowers the price of materials for all. I don't think the good painters feel despondent about that.
David

David,

I'm not sure they are really trolls - I see it more as a manifestation of baked-in positions from which folks eventually find it impossible to move. The thing's run for so long within the same rut that any sane troll would have become bored and gone on to annoy another community. I have promised myself not to get involved again, but then something crops up that simply begs an answer and I try to offer one, shed a little low light from within the depths of the Med... always to no avail, I must add, but as you know, hope springs eternal until we are no more as we are right now. And then, if there's a then, the fun begins. It must: surely, this has to be just a rehearsal?

Art, too, suffers from people getting old. Not so much that we can't cut it anymore, but that there are so many other things once easy to do that now take so much time and thought to accomplish that there's little free time for the getting out there and working the screws loose on the shutter. I am amazed, daily, that it has taken me so long and so much determined effort to accomplish so little each day.

Painting. As I have said before, I used to do that but not well enough, so I took the inevitable path to camera art.

How I wish I could just sit down at a piano and make music; pick up a guitar and accompany myself to a simple little blues. Never gonna happen, not this side of the great divide. Something that to those who can, seems nothing remarkable at all.

So much for those theories of fairness, equality and opportunity that obsess some people not far away. As I say, it's a pipe dream. Were I rich and as spoiled as a Hollywood brat, I still couldn't do that; privilege, my ass. For some things you need the hand of God: talent.

Rob

David Sutton

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Re: Figures
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2017, 06:19:20 PM »

You may be right that it's a question of baked in positions. I find it hard to fathom that anyone with an ounce of self awareness would not become less certain of their ideas as they grow older, and would not continue to  re-evaluate old patterns of thinking as they age. So does this mean that by the time "the fun begins" I'll know nothing? Could be.
At any rate, whether baked in, half baked, or still bloody, the result of their efforts is tiresome. As if, for example, there is any substantial difference between Tweedledum Democrat party or Tweedledee Republican party (fill in your local factions/politicians etc).
As for needing the hand of God: talent. Don't forget He has two hands and the other gifts sweat. I've seen many people with talent fail because they didn't have the determination to stick with it. And there are many who had a small talent but were driven enough to make up for that. They were never going to a Mozart, but who is?
The difficulty for those of us who have relied on hard work, is, as you suggest, our bodies won't keep up. It's easy to let the days become something to be filled, and watch nights stretch out into a long void. We feel the chill of winter and slumber by the fire feeling all our good work is done. It becomes harder to dream of new things and harder to bring those dreams into reality. I don't have an easy answer for that, and yet I see examples all round me of folk in their eighties charging ahead and being productive in their old age, so there is hope yet.
One thing I notice is that whatever the tasks for the day, they seem to fill the day. A task on a day filled with challenging stuff takes half the time of the same job on a slack day.
Then again, maybe it's how one thinks. I think a physically challenging day often leaves me too knackered to do anything for the rest of the week.
David
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Rob C

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Re: Figures
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2017, 09:08:41 AM »

You may be right that it's a question of baked in positions. I find it hard to fathom that anyone with an ounce of self awareness would not become less certain of their ideas as they grow older, and would not continue to  re-evaluate old patterns of thinking as they age. So does this mean that by the time "the fun begins" I'll know nothing? Could be.
At any rate, whether baked in, half baked, or still bloody, the result of their efforts is tiresome. As if, for example, there is any substantial difference between Tweedledum Democrat party or Tweedledee Republican party (fill in your local factions/politicians etc).
As for needing the hand of God: talent. Don't forget He has two hands and the other gifts sweat. I've seen many people with talent fail because they didn't have the determination to stick with it. And there are many who had a small talent but were driven enough to make up for that. They were never going to a Mozart, but who is?
The difficulty for those of us who have relied on hard work, is, as you suggest, our bodies won't keep up. It's easy to let the days become something to be filled, and watch nights stretch out into a long void. We feel the chill of winter and slumber by the fire feeling all our good work is done. It becomes harder to dream of new things and harder to bring those dreams into reality. I don't have an easy answer for that, and yet I see examples all round me of folk in their eighties charging ahead and being productive in their old age, so there is hope yet.
One thing I notice is that whatever the tasks for the day, they seem to fill the day. A task on a day filled with challenging stuff takes half the time of the same job on a slack day.
Then again, maybe it's how one thinks. I think a physically challenging day often leaves me too knackered to do anything for the rest of the week.
David

"Then again, maybe it's how one thinks. I think a physically challenging day often leaves me too knackered to do anything for the rest of the week."

That's true, and when coupled with an ever-growing list of health issues, even the desire to do anything much starts to fade slowly away. One ends up having a psychological battle within one's own head. For example: last night I was absolutely determined to get up early, have breakfast, shower and then take myself off to the nearby town and shoot something. Come today, it worked to plan right until the shower was had, I was dressed and ready to go. Then, I stopped in my tracks and said hey! you've shot every goddam window and shop dummy with a face (so many no longer have them) in sight - why do more of the same, especially when you already know there are no more varieties left to shoot... So I just made a cup of coffee and went on the Internet. That's one major reason that I miss a metropolis; it would exhaust me before I it! Saul Leiter found enough within his NY neighbourhood to last him his life...

"It becomes harder to dream of new things and harder to bring those dreams into reality."

Well, I certainly don't agree with the first part, but absolutely with the conclusion to which you arrived!

My poor head reverberates with ideas of what I'd like to do, but some have become impossible becuse I left them too late in life - no, not only in life, but in the health cycle. One such, and happily removed from cameras, is the local mountain range, some peaks of which see snow every winter. It wasn't until about a year or so ago that I saw a documentary on tv about the several walks and such that are offered: it looked at times as if the team were walking in the Alps! Only a few miles away, that might just as well be the bloody Alps for all the chance I'll ever have of going up there after two heart attacks!

The list of such disasters of timing is long; one other such being the French canals, where I have entertained the idea of doing the Med to Atlantic thing via barge or by car. Now single, I know I'd spend the time wallowing in despair that my wife is no longer around to enjoy it too. When she was, I used to think oh, next trip back to Scotland, but not this one. How easily we slip into certainties based on nothing but the past.

If I ever had anything in my head worth passing on to young people it's this: if you have something about life choices that's driving you, don't fight it, just go ahead and follow your instinct. You may be right or you may not; either way, you can seldom run both courses at the same time. Don't forget, sins of omission are eventually just as painful to bear as some one may commit. And you never know: your life may well change for the better, and if young enough, a negative outcome probably leaves time to return pretty near to square one and think again. Just don't provide yourself with future regret because you once lacked confidence.

Rob

« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 03:28:30 PM by Rob C »
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David Sutton

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Re: Figures
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2017, 04:38:34 AM »

It's a curious thing that one can live in a most photogenic village and never reach for a camera because one's surroundings have become mundane. Sometimes when the weather is misty and perfect for images of Victorian buildings I sit here and wonder what I will do today. Honestly, I need a good kicking every now and then. It's the mental thing again. I find the mundane the hardest thing to tackle.
My solution, when I get the "been there, done that" nonsense, is to look for a few other things to do while I'm out. Enjoy a coffee and cake, call into an interesting shop, flirt with the lass at the fruit stall. Then I'm ready to delete the whole day's shoot if need be without feeling a sense of failure. Interestingly, that seldom happens.
I have to be in a particular mental space to be goal orientated when holding a camera and that's usually when I travel and know I probably won't be back.
You are right about always being able to find a reason not to do something. Sometimes the reasons are valid. Mostly it's that we are being tested.
The canals sound interesting. Could you do one of the trips you mentioned? What makes you think your wife will not be there is some way? How much worse it would have been if you'd gone first and left her to struggle. You have saved her that, but now shoulder the price. How do you know it will not seem like a mere afternoon for her before you get your arse into heaven. In the meantime, maybe you still have work to do.
Excuse the presumption, but I was wondering what I'd like to see if I were to look at images from your part of the world. I realise it would be of the people who got you through your heart attacks. What they look like, what's the light like where they work, what are the tools of their trade?
Today I took to heart your comment about confidence and brought along the camera to a cafe for coffee with a friend. I left the camera by the table and wandered over to the staff and asked them if I could make some photos of them working. I'm not that happy asking folk to be photographed, but it was remarkably painless. It would be interesting to approach some local shop owners.....
David
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 05:10:54 AM by David Sutton »
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Rob C

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Re: Figures
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2017, 04:26:02 PM »

David,

I'm happy you did your shoot of the staff; I wish I could motivate myself these days!

Part of my current malaise is down to the heat and sunlight: the very things that brought us here are now bad for my health - I have a skin problem gifted me via sunlight exposure, not just here but on photo shoots and years spent in India. As the doc said, skin has memory. Also, my eyes are probably going to have to be operated upon, and that means all sorts of problems about transportation in-between ops when I will have monocular vision and don't think I want to try to drive, though I knew two guys who had single working eyes and drove quite well - even Albert Watson has but one, and drives okay. Frankly, rather than risk myself and everybody else, I'd rather wait until both were done and then see (no pun etc.) how my repaired vision might be.

Trips in France. No, I really don't think it's worth doing it alone; the buzz consisted of the package - first in the newness of the area soon followed, on further trips, by familiarity and its different pleasures; the little hotels, the food (which mostly I can't handle now due to the cholesterol levels they have) and of course, the other person with whom it was a shared enjoyment. I used to think of those journeys as my personal versions of Route 66, but with a Ford.

Regarding the "How do you know it will not seem like a mere afternoon for her before you get your arse into heaven." bit, I agree: she's been gone almost nine years now, and it's like yesterday morning. Truth to tell, I don't much remember yesterday morning (happily uneventful!), but almost everything of that period those years ago.

Funny you wrote this: "In the meantime, maybe you still have work to do." I have felt like that since perhaps a year after she died. All I can think of is that it might consist of unburdening myself of this apartment and returning to Scotland, if only to relieve the kids of a bureaucratic nightmare should I die before I manage that. Trouble is, her departure coincided with the financial crash and the property crash here, worst possible time to sell. On the matter of who goes first, I agree: I'm pleased I was able to help her through it all, but her own spirit and guts did most of the heavy lifting. For myself, I don't fear the ending of self - more the utterly crappy situation where one can't be self-reliant any longer. On the final question, I have my personal version of faith, which includes a forevernes situation I won't pretend to understand or explain, though I believe it's connected with the concept in Russ' seer proposition. And if I am mistaken? Then I shall never know, but the passing will have been without terrors. Pain, of course, is an entirely different issue. I watched two documentaries today - one on the life cycle of the forests and their creatures as the year goes by, the other about a year in the life of the Caribbean seas. I found them amazingly uplifting, and made me feel so very much in tune with the wheel of life itself; part of something greater than myself. Daytime tv isn't my idea of a good time, but I was glad that I watched instead of facing the heat outside.

We shall see how it unfurls.

Rob

Peter McLennan

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Re: Figures
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2017, 09:14:41 PM »

Rob, I feel your pain, if only in distant replica.  It's hot here, too, in western Canada.  35C for weeks on end and hiding in my cool basement has become part of my life.  It will pass.  August is nearly done. The low, warm light of fall and winter is just around the corner.

All artists have unproductive periods. When I'm in one of those zones, I consider photographing to be like going to the driving range- I'm just keeping my skills current.  (I loathe golf)

Guitars. Get one. They're good for you. Especially if you like blues. Electrics are WAY easier on the fingers, something that discourages many attempts at learning.  A cheap Stratocaster copy might run you a couple of hundred dollars, an amp even less. A headphone amp and a pair of cans will sound great and cost nearly nothing. Take a couple of lessons if you feel the need. Learn five chords. It won't take long before you're making music, and that is a great feeling.
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Rob C

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Re: Figures
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2017, 07:13:17 AM »

Rob, I feel your pain, if only in distant replica.  It's hot here, too, in western Canada.  35C for weeks on end and hiding in my cool basement has become part of my life.  It will pass.  August is nearly done. The low, warm light of fall and winter is just around the corner.

All artists have unproductive periods. When I'm in one of those zones, I consider photographing to be like going to the driving range- I'm just keeping my skills current.  (I loathe golf)

Guitars. Get one. They're good for you. Especially if you like blues. Electrics are WAY easier on the fingers, something that discourages many attempts at learning.  A cheap Stratocaster copy might run you a couple of hundred dollars, an amp even less. A headphone amp and a pair of cans will sound great and cost nearly nothing. Take a couple of lessons if you feel the need. Learn five chords. It won't take long before you're making music, and that is a great feeling.

Oh Peter, thank you for that straw upon which to clutch!

The sad reality, re. guitars, is that I was given one (black, Silvestri made in Catania) when I was eleven or twelve and sold it when I was about nineteen or so. When I got it, I was sent to music lessons and the poor tutor ended up suggesting that I try a fixed pitch instrument like a harmonica... or maybe a piano. To be bad enough a pupil for a teacher to prepare himself to loose money says much about both of us! I learned where EADGBE (just the strings!) were, and also how to run through a scale using all of them! That was pretty much it. As to whether they were tuned or not was another matter into which I felt it best not to pry. Just like singing when you can't carry a tune: best in the shower, alone. The echoes in that room allow for Elvis and Buddy dreams to survive for the few moments of wetness and water-confused ears... be happy you never heard my That'll be the day!

It's a skill, music, and more than that, another gift.

The most positive thing I can find to say about it, is that I have it on at every opportunity. Since the kids gave me an iPad I can even enjoy it during my restaurant lunches; it allows me to retreat into another world far removed from the other diners, the noise and the occasional screaming child. I watched an hour of Last Man Standing again during lunch yesterday - or the day before - and the only problem was that the screen's too little to allow me to appreciate properly the blonde lady in the backing group. Jerry Lee looks good for his age, and when the rest of the performers stop kissing his talented ass, the music is uplifting too. Ronnie Wood plays some nice things, but is too low-volumed to compete with the rest of the sound... How warming to see the excited faces of young women about a third - or far less - of Jerry Lee's age as he does his musical thing. Music can cross almost all barriers if it's good and in the right society. Not getting that was one of the things that I felt to be one of the Beatles big mistakes: let Ravi be, and stick with R'n'B. However, when they left that pretentious period behind, they went on to produce wonderful fresh music. The Stones, on the other hand, and IMO, never did much great music of their own, being excellent when in the R'n'R or R'n'B idioms but not really when they, too, went concept albumming. Sympathy for the Devil? What the hell's that racket supposed to be?

Another chap who has given me lots of musical pleasure, but only in the last few years and far away from his early days, is Eric Clapton. He seems so able to do almost anything with that instrument. And makes it look so easy...

Rob

Peter McLennan

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Re: Figures
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2017, 03:12:23 PM »

Rob, your Silvestri is probably a lovely instrument, but being acoustic makes the learning curve so much steeper.  Everything's the same with an electric, except the pain.  The horrible, tender painful fingers on your left hand discourage many a learner.

I hate the teacher who dissuaded you.  That's the last thing any teacher should do.

Forget learning scales.  That's for piano people.  What you need to learn is chords.  Five chords and you can play 90% of popular music. Three chords and you can play 75% AND 99% of blues and R&B.

One last prod and I'll forgo any further nattering about guitars. They are the best friend-maker I've found.  Only a dog comes close and I've never even owned a dog.

The Trump thread is, I agree, a waste of time.  One of the things I hate most about Trump is that he brings out the worst in people, and, worse, he brings out the worst in ME. But I can't help myself.  I just can't shut up and turn away when idiots spout nonsense and rail when they're called on it. I'm a troll's delight. I can't stop myself. I need help.

I, too love a table in a good restaurant and a connected tablet. These devices really do fulfill the definition of the term "personal computer". I recently went to the dark side and went Apple.  AGH!  It was the sight of my wife's 13" iPad Pro next to my pitiable 8" OLED Samsung that made me do it.  It's an absolutely delightful device.

If you're reeeeeely bored and want to read of my recent trip to view the solar eclipse, here ya go:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FQurBPfe43aCrKo8AuA4ag3SY4hD3jMjq0WriPEjf8s/edit?usp=sharing






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Rob C

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Re: Figures
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2017, 04:43:05 PM »

What a delightful read! I had no idea you were into journalism. One short story and pix, and there's a new personality born right there.
Happy to make your acquaintance!

I know a couple of guitar players around these parts - I'll have a chat and see what their experiences have been. One's a pro so that won't count for much vis-à-vis moi, but the other's another old Scot with a worse heart history than mine, so we have something to share.

Thanks!

;-)

Rob

Peter McLennan

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Re: Figures
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2017, 10:06:49 PM »

What a delightful read!
Rob

Then I'm rewarded.  Thank you. It's what my pal Brad calls "recreational writing".  Besides, I just had to record my thoughts on the eclipse before they evaporated. Age will do that to you, right?  The other day, I couldn't remember Bob Dylan's name.  :(
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athegn

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Re: Figures
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2017, 03:03:06 PM »

Agree on tablets

Solo eating (wife in Croatia) in local Italian restaurant; the only "proper" restaurant in the culinary desert where I live. My tablet used to get me away from the piped music; why can't good cooks have better musical taste?
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Rob C

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Re: Figures
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2017, 06:05:11 PM »

Agree on tablets

Solo eating (wife in Croatia) in local Italian restaurant; the only "proper" restaurant in the culinary desert where I live. My tablet used to get me away from the piped music; why can't good cooks have better musical taste?

The French-owned one that I go to most of the time is even more strange: they have a large tv switched on all the time, but the sound is always off.

Shortly after being given my set of earphones with Bluetooth, I had to have a lump removed from my ear lobe. It took several stitches and felt very delicate and so the 'phones were out. Now, healed, I shall be able to use the 'phones again and I'm drumming up the nerve to use them at the restaurant instead of the little things that go inside your ear, which are fine if you can hold them properly in place, but then you can't eat! I don't really want to look like I'm trying to make a statement there of some kind, but as they probably think me a bit odd already, what the hell!

athegn

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Re: Figures
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2017, 03:50:41 AM »

I try not to use headphones, in this restaurant, but immerse myself in the tablets content, hoping I can ignore the "top 20 of Italian muzak charts 1999"

They seem to have been playing the same songs ever since I have been eating there; they have some idea of good music as there is a prominent poster, of a collage Sinatra images. He ain't on their playlist.
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Rob C

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Re: Figures
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2017, 12:25:50 PM »

I try not to use headphones, in this restaurant, but immerse myself in the tablets content, hoping I can ignore the "top 20 of Italian muzak charts 1999"

They seem to have been playing the same songs ever since I have been eating there; they have some idea of good music as there is a prominent poster, of a collage Sinatra images. He ain't on their playlist.

Clearly, wrong family. Blood counts.

;-)

Rob

P.S. I didn't bring the earphones along after all - decided to rest the lobes a bit longer. However, I did forget to pick up my cap when I left the table, and the girl caught me at the door, waving it at me as she tore across the room. I'd have made less negative impression had I worn the goddam 'phones. But at least she gave me another parting pair of air kisses, as one apparently does out of sympathy for older men having problems of continuity.

But it didn't end there. Another expat who dines there 6/7 (to my 5/7) came out with me, rosé in hand, and chatted awhile about Brexit's implications for us all; his attitude is a thorough burning of his boats, and here until he drops. But that wasn't the thing I was going to tell you. What I was going to mention was that as we stood there, this twenty-something couple walked up, gazed at the menu and started to walk away. No real idea which idiom they used between them, but on asking them if they spoke English, they said yes, so I informed them that they already had found the best game in town. The menu's a bit handwritten - which it is - and not clear to understand, the patron's graphic skills falling way behind his kitchen ones. I explained that the price included a starter from the selection of them; a main course from another three possibilities; a sweet, bottle of house wine and water. Cost? Twelve euros. The girl said, yes, but that's each!

She was blonde, tall and strikingly good looking. The lingo sounded Italianate, but of very limited different sounds; much of it was reminiscent of the clopping of a horse on a street. My friend thought her Russian; I hadn't a clue beyond the idea that she may have been from Hungary. They dillied and dallied, moved away a few yards and then came back and went in.

I should have gone into sales instead of photography. Wait: they both require the same most important skill, don't they? No, think of something else, Rob.

But it's pretty alarming to think you can have two young (one very attractive) adults and they get away on holiday somewhere not known to be cheap, at this end of the island, at least - but can find twelve Euros steep for a great lunch. Of course, they had no way yet of knowing it would be great. I enjoy these chance encounters with pretty people, especially if they remain strangers. Costs nothing, and one gets something bright with which to top up lunch!
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