All-seeing eye

Saturday, May 31st, 2003

Increasingly, it's not real unless you've seen it on camera.

There was Big Brother tonight, of course, and who'll really miss Anoushka? But last night there was some programme about the Westminster Police, co-ordinating routine operations against drug pushers and handbag snatchers in Soho via CCTV. Every so often the officers monitoring the cameras spotted something and radioed their colleagues, who went dashing off like characters in a point-and-click video game.

But it's not just on TV. It's ordinary people too.

This morning as I climbed the stairs out of Bank station I saw a woman contorted against the wall, doubled up as if in dreadful pain. I looked closer and saw she was actually leaning down to shoot the wall from a low angle on a small video camera. I couldn't understand it until I looked closer at the wall – the wall I walk past every working day but barely notice anymore. It's decorated with heraldic crests and with line drawings of the street scene. It's everyday to me, but to her it was an experience to capture and treasure.

It's funny what people think is worth capturing – we were in a hotel once at breakfast and while everyone else was loading their plates up with pastries, one bloke was going round videoing it all.

But the crowning glory of this video nation came yesterday when I saw something sweet. There was this elderly couple on a platform at Waterloo, saying goodbye to each other. They were maybe in their 70s and they were kissing like teenagers. You would have needed a crowbar to prise them apart. People were turning to look and smiling, me included – it was one of those scenes that warms your heart. One young couple, maybe 50 years junior to the elderly lovebirds, stopped and turned to watch and the man held up one of those new generation mobile phones with video and filmed them as they kissed, oblivious to everyone else. Frankly, it looked like a TV commercial. But again, it was as if the event was only real if it was captured on video.

I dunno, it's just that I think life tastes sweeter when it's experienced first hand and not through a lense.

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I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.