Busting the Myth

Foraging through photos, this morning, I stumbled across the first hedgehog visitor that I managed to snap in my garden…

A week prior to this Mr S had been boo hoo hooing about the total annihilation of all his new plants by the resident slugs. I was more than ready to go to war with the ever exploding population… I’m not a fan at the best of times but when the slimely little fuckers cross the line and make their way into my kitchen… I’m prepared to kill. This horrifies my daughter who will sob and scream “How dare you call yourself a vegetarian?” Apparently “I’m not going to fucking eat them!” is a response that plunges my terrible ethics into even lower levels of depravity, meriting yet more scorn… I don’t care if I’m vegetarian, I like to walk around bare foot and accidentally stepping on slugs makes my soul shudder and causes me to leap skywards in ways I’m just not designed to move… Nope, thresholds have been crossed… There are consequences…

I tell Mr S that the slugs must die… I know full well that he’s going to go full blown Buddha Boy on me… At this stage in the game, I’m not really caring about my karma… I’m not caring about how I may reincarnate… I’m caring about reclaiming my territory… Lying through my teeth, I tell Buddha Boy that I will not enjoy killing them but needs must and if I kill them then that’s my karma and his slate remains clean… He’s not buying into that… I’m getting to my wit’s end… We’ve done all the friendly ways, the eggshells… broken sea shells… copper tape… All those things that are supposed to act as deterrents… I did the not so friendly thing of hoiking them over the fence into the garden of the neighbour that I don’t like…but they soon found their way back… I guess they don’t like slabs and dog ends but I’m not turning my garden into a paved ashtray to solve a slug problem… Mr S had a lengthy chat with them… I don’t know what he was thinking. OK, he’s had success in the past, in educating our feline freeloaders into not eating the birds that visit… But, talking to slugs? Nope… Doesn’t work, it falls on deaf ears… Oh wait… They don’t have ears… That would explain a lot… Hmmm what to do… I find myself at a standoff with Mr S… His Buddha Boy going nose to nose with my Functional Psychopath… I remember another chat he had with Woody, explaining that this mouse is a house mouse, you can eat those, this mouse is a field mouse, he’s wondered in here lost, you don’t eat those, we let those loose… Hmm… Mr S won’t let me kill but he green lights animals to do in house pest control…

Hey! How about I summon up a Hedgehog? That’ll sort the slugs out… He thinks it’s a ludicrous idea as in 25+years, we’ve never seen one in the garden. I tell him me and the cosmos go back a long way and we’re pretty tight and I only have to click my fingers…

I’ve obviously wore him down now and he’s wanting to return to a quiet life so he tells me to do it… (Though I do hear him mumble away to himself… Yeah..like that’s going to work…)

A week later and manifested murderer materialises… Two weeks later, I’m inundated with hogs (I do have a habit of accidentally over ordering… I’m a bit of a Mickey Mouse Magician) and not a slug to be seen…

Now I’ve told this story a few times to people and some find it a quaint tale, others say my life sounds like Disney on acid, and others say “Oh! I’d love a Hedgehog!” Now to this last group, I always say “Really?” If they confirm then I snap my fingers, make a finger gun to fire off a POOF! into the ether, then I laugh and tell them the deed is done and delivery will be within the week…

To date, I’ve done this 7 times and each time, a week later, I get the news… A hog has appeared…

So… I’ve built a reputation as a hog whisperer and weaver of magic… And usually, I’ll embrace any lie that fuels me having a good yarn to tell… And usually, I’d adhere to the magician’s code and not reveal the trick, but seriously, this is one myth that needs busting… I didn’t magic up these prickly critters… They were there all along. All I did was tell you that you’d see them, in a way that I suckered you into believing and wow! You reset your brain to clock them.

Brains are tricky fuckers… Huge peacock tail feather type creations… What are they up to? Mostly, I think they’re up to filtering out the majority of what we see and hear… Buffering us against sensory overload… Deciding for us, what’s important for us to respond to… Selecting what we see/hear based on what the brain guesses will be useful to our needs to not die today… Think about how in a crowded noisy room, filled with people talking, how your ears prick at the mention of your name… Your brain has decided to prioritise that sound… BUT, you’re not a slave to your brain, you get to reset the parameters… You get it in mind that Hedgehogs are on the top of your list of priorities and you’re going see them turning up pretty soon… So, no, I didn’t magic up hogs, I got you to tune your sensors to seek out the target…

I think about seeing and then I think about how funny it is that we visually document more and more yet people seem to be actually observing less. I think about the Heron I saw last night. I love Herons, and I always shout out in glee when I see them even though I see them very frequently, yet whenever I’m with someone, they are invariably surprised and will look around everywhere except for in the air! That puzzles me… With 2 exceptions, the Herons I’ve seen have been on the wing in the air… Once I saw one sat aloft a tree, another time I was walking at dusk along the canal. I turned a bend to find a huge shape looming out of the gloom, blocking my way… So, why are people surprised to see them? Why don’t they look skyward? Why scan the gutters?

I guess, people just don’t expect to see them… They see the city and the traffic and expect to see townish things and forget that we’re a stone’s throw away from the canal and the river…

My mind goes back to my teens and studying old school photography… I absolutely loved photography back then, I do now, but modern photography lacks a lot of what I fell in love with… The dark room, the fumble grope turned with practise into deft finger moves loading film into canister… The slosh of chemicals, the image emerging… The seemingly endless anticipation wait between click of shutter, and final image, wondering if you’d captured what you wanted…I loved the framing of an image, the imagining of how it would speak in black and white. My photography teacher placed great emphasis on looking beyond the subject and visually checking everything that fell within the scope of the view finder… He instilled the idea that time spent in careful composition yielded easier results and less time trying to edit out errors… Not that there was much editing beyond careful cropping and playing with exposure lengths… But I guess as well, one of the reasons I took this advice on board was that photography at that point in time was an expensive game… I had very limited funds and if I’d scrapped together money for 36 frames then I needed to make sure my final project was clear in mind before I committed to the finger press on button… Usually projects set required 5 pieces so that left a little room for experimentation but it didn’t leave a lot of room for mistakes. Occasionally, there’s that lucky instinctive photo, where you don’t have time to play around, just shoot quick and hope for the best and that you caught the light just right before it moved… Or you get to candid shoot a portrait whilst someone is just so perfectly there and oblivious to your lens…

Photography now… For most people, it’s done by phone… Not a lot of skill required as hey if you shoot enough times, odds on you’ll get at least one good snap and you only show the good ones… I don’t know… It kind of rattles me… There’s something that feels very off about having a resource that’s seemingly infinite in supply… Snap snap snapping away dross and drivel for the sake of having pictures… Documenting everything rather than experiencing anything…

Old school photography… Resources were precious and in short supply… Deliberation and decisions… Images never taken lightly… Forensic examination of mistakes so they weren’t repeated… Memorising what works well… I guess there was a respect there that feels somewhat lacking now… I guess also I’m a grumpy bitch and I find it hard not to gnash my teeth when suddenly everyone’s a photographer and posting bad compositions with great big glaring things in the background that shouldn’t be there as they wreck the picture and the subject smiles oblivious… I guess this is also why I love to do walk by photo bombings… People miss me when they’re shooting… From what I see, a lot of people also lack editing skills and still don’t see me in the background… It amuses me to think that maybe in a few years time, strangers will spot me and false memories will unfurl about what a great night that was… What’s her name? I’ve not seen her for ages… Yeah, ain’t I a stinker… 😈

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