Location: Somewhere in the Planet
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Another random idea put down on paper.
With my trusty Canon camera in hand at the ready, I placed my bag on my shoulder and left the hotel room. As I headed for the elevator, I had half an inkling to take photos of the hallway but aside from there not really being anything worth photographing, I didn’t want to be caught doing so. For sure I was an Aussie yokel on their first trip overseas, but I didn’t need to be seen acting like one.
I still couldn’t believe it had taken me until my 28th year to travel abroad. I had been around Australia several times, living in most states at least once, but I had never left her fair shores. Taking the ferry to Rottnest didn’t count, as it wasn’t considered far enough off the mainland to be thought of as an international destination.
There had been no real reason for not having travelled before now. I had been saving since I was 14 for something special, so often times the money had been available; I just never thought to use it towards a holiday, despite watching friends and family seemingly always jetting off somewhere exotic.
It wasn’t until I was 23 that a very real desire to go overseas hit me. I even had the perfect destination in mind – Milazzo, Sicily, where my paternal grandmother had been born – and yet I never managed to get there. Part of the reason I suppose was that I wanted to travel with someone else, only I could never find anyone willing.
Assorted friends and family always had an excuse at the ready when I asked or suggested the trip, be it no money, prior commitments, kids in school or they weren’t interested in the destination and so in the end, I just stopped asking. Joining a tour group was an option but they never really delved into the heart of the place you were visiting, sticking instead to the touristy places they assumed you all wanted to see. Also, according to a sibling who had been on several of these such tours, there was always one or two people in the group who made it uncomfortable for the rest, with their antics and behaviour.
In the end, I simply came to the realization that if I waited around for someone willing to join me, I was never going to leave the house, let alone the country. Why should I miss out on the trip of a lifetime, waiting on someone else, when it clearly hadn’t happened already? That was why on my 27th birthday, I applied for a passport, started to plan where I wanted to go and then booked the tickets. Four months later, I found myself in London.
Milazzo was the ultimate destination, but I had opted to spend a couple of days in London first. I wanted to visit all the places I had only ever seen on the tele or read about in books. Yesterday I had been to see the Tower Bridge; which was huge, of course; went on the London Eye, which was fun and gave me an excellent view for photos and finished in Soho, which had been a real eye-opener. I had wanted to visit some royal sights too but left them for today.
As it turned out, I had timed my trip well as in two weeks, there was to be a royal wedding, and I hoped to be back here on the day to join in on the festivities, before I flew home. Prince William was marrying Kate Middleton and even two weeks out, the city was abuzz with the excitement. It was hard not to get caught up in it, as I wandered about. As expected, my camera was running hot as I took both still and video shots of not only my surroundings but some of the interesting characters I passed along the way.
Eventually I found myself outside Buckingham Palace. I couldn’t believe the size of it. It had always looked big on the tele, and given it was a palace, that was to be expected, I just never would have thought it would be ‘that’ big. I took several shots, from all angles, even managing to catch a guard in full uniform and bearskin helmet, but it wasn’t until I tried to take a selfie that things got interesting and in a most unexpected way.
I had never been one for selfies – the stupid angles you have to contort yourself into to make sure you’re in the shot, as well as what you’re standing in front of seemed ridiculous to me. My arms were also too short to get a decent shot, or at least one worth keeping. Besides, being short all over, a little cuddly and having an average face didn’t always translate into great shots, so I usually preferred to take the photos, rather than be in them.
The only reason I was even contemplating a self-portrait today, was proof I had actually been here. It was all well and good to have 100’s of different pictures of people and buildings in the place you’re visiting, a stamped passport and an empty bank account to show, but some people still required further proof. I had one such aunt who was like that, so rather than have her tell me that all my real photos actually looked like Shutterstock prints, at least with a picture of myself outside one of the world’s best-known residences, she would have no recourse.
Putting down the bags of royal wedding paraphernalia I had bought, I tried to position myself in such a way that the palace would be in the shot and I wouldn’t look like a deformed gymnast, all bent out of shape. One look at the shots after I had taken them, and I wanted to throw my camera into the Thames.
“Goddamsonofabitchwhorearsehole!” I muttered, deleting the shots. It wasn’t until two guys approached me that I wondered if I hadn’t muttered softly enough.
“Is everything ok?” the taller of the two asked.
I blushed at having been heard, especially when it had been such an unladylike thing to say. “Yeah, thanks. I was just wishing that instead of curly hair, my father had passed down the long-arm gene.”
The two of them laughed, before the second guy said to his friend “Looks like you’re not the only one who hates their curls, Harry.”
The first guy gave him back a look that was less than impressed, although I wasn’t sure why. Instead of saying something, he turned back to me and with a smile that deepened his dimples, he asked “Is there any particular reason you want longer arms? The ones you have now seem perfectly fine?”
Now the cheeks were really flaming; was he flirting with me? I wasn’t used to that and so for a moment I stood there. Then I realized that they were probably on their way somewhere and that I didn’t need to be holding them up.
“I was trying to take a shot of the palace, with me in it, so I could prove I was actually here but my arms are too short to get a decent shot, hence the language and the wish for longer arms.”
Again, both men laughed, which was fine for them. They had to be at least 6 feet tall, if not a smidge taller but I could at least see the humour in the ridiculousness of my comment.
Plucking up more courage than I thought I possessed, I added “I’m sure you are both on the way to something important, but could I trouble you to take the shot for me? I would really appreciate it.”
“Sure,” the shorter of the two said, taking my offered camera.
I quickly got into position, almost tripping over the dropped bags, before smiling with a thumb up and pointing back at the palace, as though to say, ‘get a load of this joint!’. Once he had taken a couple of shots, I was about to thank him when he suggested “Harry, why don’t you get in the next one; a photo with a local and all would be more proof, don’t you think?”
Again, he received a look and I had to wonder if it was for the Harry or the suggestion. Either way, ‘Harry’ smiled at me and walked over. Just as he reached my side, I almost made a joke about needing longer legs as well, but I refrained. This Harry guy really was tall, so much so that the top of my head barely reached the top of his arm.
Without prompting, he put his arm around my shoulder before his friend took the shots. Once they were taken, I said “Thank you, both, for helping me out. I truly appreciate it. At least now I will have something to show the rest of the family that isn’t just the top of my head.”
Both smiled and told me I was welcome and then after a group shot, they were on their way. I picked up my things and moved onto the next location on my wish list.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I would finally learn the identity of the two men who had been so generous with their time. My sister was watching some show called “The Tudors” on Netflix – for the umpteenth time, mind you – and I joined her. When the taller of the two men showed up in a scene, I about fell off the chair.
“I’ve met him” I mentioned casually, thinking how cool it had been to meet a celebrity, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.
“Bullshit” was Sami’s immediate reaction, barely taking her eye from the screen. Given the guy in question was standing there, butt naked, I couldn’t really blame her.
“It’s true” I countered. “It was outside Buckingham Palace of all places. He was passing by with a friend, stopping after they heard me swear like a sailor.”
“No-one likes a liar, Erin.”
Rather than argue the point, I went in search of my camera. On my arrival back home, I had of course regaled all with the hundreds of photos I had taken on several SD cards but I had overlooked the one still in the camera. Once I found it, I went back to join my sister, searching the images to find the one I was looking for. I stopped a few minutes later, laughing at what I was seeing.
Three of the shots were of the guy who had taken the photos for me. Charlie; Henry’s brother, as I would later learn; had taken it upon himself to take his own selfies and in one shot he had poked out his tongue, the second he pulled a screwy face and the third was a simple wink. Clearly, he thought he was being funny and I had to admit, it did make me laugh.
Finally locating the shot I was after, I showed it to Sami. “Holy mother of…” she started. “Why the hell didn’t you tell us you had a run in with THE Henry Cavill?”
“Umm, maybe because I don’t know who he is. It wasn’t until I spotted him just now that I even remembered meeting him, and the photos.”
“It’s like I don’t even know you…” she muttered, returning to look over the photos once more.
I could only laugh, and silently thank Dad for the short arms. If not for them, I might never have met the man of my sister’s dreams, who was about to become the newest incarnation of Superman. It was nice to have something to finally have a hold over her for a change.
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."