Park Attendents: Phonography,Testosterone, Image and Espionage

Why is it that park attendants generally seem to have a different opinion on what ‘dusk’ is?

Many friends have had cars locked in parks over night, many poor parkies must have taken abuse for their judgement and poor old me had to climb an 8ft fence yesterday…..

Mic/recorder/lead/batteries in tow I hurled myself from the park back to dry concrete.
Then I came to thinking – is phonography the hardcore pinnacle of physical endurance? well at least maybe in the pseudo masculine world of sound!
The mud under foot, the climbing small hills, the potential of falling into water are all exhilarating to my “indoor” body. A recording trip makes me feel like I’m on an assault course! There’s enemy noises to avoid and winds to judge and hide from. Even the sounds have to be hunted down and captured!
The only things that comes close to the physicality of phonography is carting speakers and other gear, setting up and getting a bad back. But lets face it there’s not often mud involved (unless it’s a festival, which means a very bad back). And even if there is mud involved there’s next to no opportunity to have a valid excuse to wear camouflage and creep up on animals is there. Admittedly there are draw backs – I mean sitting in front of a large pair of monitors looks pretty cool, whereas a grown man climbing a tree for example or squatting by a stream tends to be met with some awfully strange looks. Recording in Trafalgar Square a while back I was questioned by the security team of the National Gallery as to what I was doing. I explained that I was mapping the territory in advance of an attempt, by a highly trained group of blind ninjas that have spent several decades living in a cave with bats, to steal a piece by Constable. (ok ,I exaggerated a little there). The point is I had to explain that I was documenting, even though I was stood amongst literally hundreds of people all taking photos (and all giving me funny looks – the video centric nature of mankind is a topic for another time ). You see this isn’t phonography this is counter espionage – I’d be lying if I said I’d never thought ‘i bet i look like i’m putting a silencer on a gun’ when i screw a “shotgun” capsule on. An I’d definitely be telling a lie (an so would you) in saying ‘I’ve never snooped on private words‘. Shame that windshields don’t have an intimidating look to them isn’t it else I’d get some real authoritarian attention!

The basic message here is you can keep your sonar and your LRAD’s, I’ll go to war with my mic and mighty staff (or boom as the less imaginative might call it). I may not be the toughest, nor the bravest but I’m going to go back to Hampstead Heath before the day breaks (in hope of capturing something other than distant traffic) and if the gates aren’t open there is going to be war,or at least a repeat image of me scrambling over a fence in panic.

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