While running round Kennington Park – seven laps today; don’t worry, it’s only a little park – I note the people sitting on the park benches. Today there was a couple on the stretch leading up to Oval station. As you run past, you see seven snapshots. At first, they didn’t seem to know each other very well. By lap two – six minutes later – they know each other better. They have turned their bodies towards each other. By lap three her leg is folded on the bench in contact with his leg. Anyway, to cut a long story short, by lap six she had her head on his shoulder and he was stroking her hair.
Photo snapshots are actually a better representation of the way our mind works than continuous narrative flow. In life we perceive something, register it, interpret it, chew it over. While doing all this we have frozen the image. It is like a portrait painter. He notices something, then looks away, to his paint or his canvas, and then paints it up. It is, in fact, more complicated than that, for the painter takes a long time to transmit the impression to canvas, a number of examinations of the model, so that what he is painting is an aggregate of perceived images. In other words, something that was never there. Reality is untrackable. And so for the couple on the bench. Maybe my seven-split version of their story is closer to reality than their own more detailed versions. And by the way, in the seventh snapshot they were separate again; she was smoking a cigarette looking out into the park and he was fiddling with his mobile.