18th June 2019 Lately it’s occurred to me that I should experiment with less overt methods of taking photographs than pointing my camera at people. I’ve had a few spots of trouble on recent outings
I was on Deansgate again, not quite in the centre of Manchester. Percy approached a steel bollard. A man and three ladies approached us along the pavement. As a possible picture it was unpromising but it was an opportunity to try out sitting about looking like I wasn‘t taking a photograph while I was. I sat on the bollard behind the one Perce was assessing, wearing, I hoped, the mild look of an oldish chap quietly enjoying an evening out with his little dog, my camera rested on the top of my thigh, just happening to be pointed towards Percy and the three ladies, my face aimed elsewhere. I considered whistling. Percy’s leg went up. A finger pressed the button four times.
‘Did you just take a photograph of my legs?’
Probably boring any regular readers (and myself when I check this back through in the hope of catching some speling and punctuation, mistakes) who know that I am always pleased when legs are prominent in Percy Pissing photographs I mused for a while that she was at least partially right.
‘Did you just take a photograph of my legs?’
It’s stupid to muse when you are surrounded by three women, two of them creasing their brows and straightening their lips in support of the one who is ever more crossly repeating the same sentence.
‘Did you just take a photograph of my legs?’ Weekend evenings and nights do make people verbally repetitive. As does not answering them. She settled those legs like a wrestler. She really did. She’d eschewed high heels for her Saturday night out.
‘Did you just take a photograph of my legs?’
That was quite a hard question for me. I knew what she meant and it wasn‘t what I meant. Eventually I said, ‘Well, in a way I did and and in another way
I’ve stopped that sentence like that because she interrupted me. ‘Show me the photo. Show me the photo.’ She’d decided to not waste time between repetitions. I didn‘t see why I shouldn’t show her. I like showing people my photographs. I anticipated that she would see in the foreground a dog pissing, and her and her companions in the middle distance – only part of them being their legs – and would be charmed and intrigued, and even perhaps tell me all about her cockapoo and give me a like and we’d be lifelong doggy friends on Instagram. She got close to me. She didn‘t like doing it and I didn‘t like her doing it. Unfortunately I had chopped Percy in half and got nothing much of her except leg. I did think of mentioning that she was only showing the flesh of her shins and calves between a below-the-knee skirt and ankle socks, but mainly I was sad that she’d spotted me and that the new improvised sitting-down and doesn‘t-look-like-photography photography which I’d hoped would decrease castigation and bashing wouldn’t. And wasn’t.
Then I was disappointed with the quality of the photograph. I can find a reason to like most photographs,and there is something in the way that she and Percy are pushed to the margins and truncated that very slightly appealed to me, but it wasn‘t what I’d been after. I may have grimaced or shook my head. My lightbulb moment was blown.
‘They‘re my legs! You‘ve photographed my legs!’
Me taking photographs of Percy pissing does make a lot of people cross, but I’m not ashamed as nothing seems to make them happier than getting cross. It seems such a simple and undemanding thing to do for them, both comforting and engrossing. As she shouted I scrutinised her face for some small softness that I could talk to.
‘They‘re my legs! You‘ve photographed my legs!’
I considered showing the previous photographs. But I was worried they might be as dull and as badly composed as this one.
‘They‘re my legs! You‘ve photographed my legs!’
My slowness was really annoying her. I wondered further if she was a boss of people and used to faster responses.
I noticed she was shouting something else at me. It was, ‘What do you think you‘re doing: taking photographs of women‘s legs.’ I thought it was a question and I started to answer; but it was merely rhetorical; she had an answer prepared for me: ‘You‘re a leg pervert!’ Then to make sure I understood what I was, ‘You photograph women’s legs. You‘re a leg pervert.’
I said, ‘I’m not.’ It’s annoying for a pervert to be accused of a perversion he is not perverted by. I like the bottoms that are on top of the legs best. To bore you yet again: my interest in legs is relatively conceptual.
Also if I was a leg picture collector I wouldn‘t have started with hers as they looked like mine. I could be wrong though – as I’m not one.
She said, ‘You are.’
I said, ‘I’m not.’ I was getting repetitive now.
‘Who else walks their dog around at this time of night?’ Now I know what novelists mean when they write that someone ‘scoffed’. I silently chatted to myself about telling her about Percy Pissing. It sounds terrible though, far more niche and nobbly than photographing ladies’ legs. I wished I had a phone so I could show her all the nice photographs. I said, ‘Would you like me to tell you what I am actually doing?’
‘Delete it now.’
This is my 8,578th best photograph of Percy Pissing: I was as happy to delete it then as later. I‘ve recently learned how to delete lots of pictures in one go which, at three a.m. last Sunday Morning I realised had had the knock on effect of causing me to forget how to delete photographs singly. I asked her if she knew how to do it. Now I know what novelists mean when they write that someone ‘snorted with derision‘. I said, ‘I‘m not deleting all my previous photographs. There are some good ones from earlier on.’ There weren‘t I realised later, but I tend to optimism. Also looking at the other three photographs I could see one of her friends, the one showing more of her legs, I think spotting me at work, and I further think not looking bothered. Perhaps I should purchase a disability scooter for surreptitious Percy Pissing photographic outings. Perhaps I’d better get one before someone puts me in one.
The cross lady said something disparaging about me to the world and to me and they went. I think she was just sick of me by then. And crossness runs out: it’s a quick high with a greasy hangover. I went on up Deansgate, the bloke in her anecdote.
I was going to stop writing there but seeing only those dull photographs in this post irked me until I remembered that a little further up the street and a few minutes later I took this one. I see this gesture occasionally in my life and it always seems to say a lot, and I was very happy to find it in my lens. I’m reminded of Rembrandt’s Jewish Bride. And I’ve just remembered that the time I went to town before this, and only yards away from where I took this photograph of a girl with a hand on another’s heart I took a photograph of a girl with her hand on another‘s back. It’s the first photograph in the post below this.
31st May 2019 I stared at where I‘d parked the car and said where it was. Percy marked a lamppost. We walked to Whitworth St West which is usually a good street for kissers. The young lady who soothes the path to Revolution was pleased to see Percy again. At the corner of Whitworth Street and Deansgate a bunch of chaps in cheerful shirts conferred. They might have helped make a jolly picture if they had been nearer the coign of a wall or some street furniture. I clicked a few times anyway so I could re-enjoy their shirts later. In Manchester, these days, women on a night out tend to colourful dresses and complicated make-up but most chaps favour dull.
Further along Deansgate I took this photograph which doesn‘t look like what it’s made of, which is a girl comforting and supporting her friend who is screaming, distraught, and furious at a boy who I recall as resentful. That hand on the back goes through to my heart.
We crossed the road. Percy fancied the furniture outside a cafe. I played out some lead and he pissed on a chair as I pressed the button a few times in the hope that something might bounce into the photograph and enliven its not quite special-enough ordinariness. Afterwards I took some inconsequential photographs of people waiting for a taxi, perhaps slightly peeving some of them. About forty footsteps later I was enraptured by some green trousers and red brothel creepers.
A small fluffy contentedly-busy dog is a delight for some revellers, and not many more footsteps later two girls fell as far as their knees for Percy. In the only sharpish one of the three photographs I took Percy isn‘t pissing, so it’s no use. A lot of my night-time photographs are blurred; often because I find it tricky to respond innocuously and nicely to the people I‘m trying to unobtrusively photograph in weak light with one hand, while holding Percy’s lead with the other. I wish an expert would walk round with me pointing out the things I‘m doing wrong; technically not morally I mean.
I had three goes at the next shot. I’ve tried before to photograph Percy pissing on a front tyre of a parked car without its driver noticing. There are wonderful exceptions where people who notice me find a way to enthusiastically improve my photograph but most Percy pissing shots are better if their subjects aren‘t pulling one of the half dozen or so faces people typically pull when they notice me immortalising them. I’m pleased enough with this one; usually the driver is hard to see or looking cross or perplexed. I don’t regret the lack of a top to the girl’s head as I think she had already spotted me. The lad and the girl (I rarely use lass because I‘m Southern and lad is but lass isn‘t. Daisy uses both) got cross. This is obvious in the photograph that immediately follows this one. ‘You took our picture’, she said crossly, and her and the lad each took a cross step towards me. ‘I took the little doggy’s picture,’ I said in a voice that I hope sounds friendly but not quite right in the head, then took steps away back towards Deansgate as, the voice not having worked, they said, ‘No you fucking didn‘t,’ and added nasty nouns. I do like the blue of that taxi.
In the first five minutes of a walk Percy will piss on most things including walls; in the first fifteen minutes of a walk Percy will piss on most free-standing stationary objects and two sided protrusions such as the corners of walls, but is no longer guaranteed to piss on a stretch of unbroken wall. Which is what I very much wanted him to do when I saw these legs. Which he did. And included in that ‘did‘ was lifting the same leg as the plastic runner’s lifted leg. He could as easily have chosen to face the other way and lift the other leg.
I rarely take photographs of homeless people unless of course they are doing something very interesting. I don‘t really know why I don’t. But I took this photograph because I am fairly sure the sleepers are children, which is very interesting. I certainly thought they were at the time and I was looking through my glasses. I didn‘t wish to go any closer and risk waking them. We turned right at the end of Deansgate and passed the print works and this incident. The man with the sticks was waving them about but had stopped by the time Percy had sniffed about and selected his piss posture.
Then there was a man in a green wig and then some ladies. I didn‘t try very hard with them as Percy was too far away and also because I was distracted by a conversation and laughter. One part I remember accurately. I love it when conversation rhymes. ‘My seven’s getting me all the way to heaven.’ ‘I‘m having to make do with five. Fuckin’ ’ell I’m laying there and thinking go on then, shove the rest of it in, but there isn‘t any rest.’ .
I’ve always coveted a photograph of Percy and a man pissing but have been frequently frustrated by Percy not joining in or darkness or farawayness. The chap you can’t see in this photograph had no wish to sidle modestly into a shadowed corner or an alleyway. Loudly and forcefully and twice he announced to the world that he was going to piss just here. ‘Here’ was as you can see a well-lit street. I was delighted: it would be so useful to me if people announced whenever they were about to do something I would like to photograph and give me a little time to get organised. He was a good-looking chap of about thirty, perhaps a little older. He freed his cock and waved it about. It was a big cock and I thought that‘s good for the photograph. But the thing that I really really thought would be good for the photo was the man’s one leg. His other leg stopped above the knee. As I’ve written I think Percy Pissing pictures are nearest to perfect when legs are the most interesting thing about them. Percy briefly sniffed the nicely-sited bin we’d found and then just as he lifted his leg the man’s lady-friend rushed far enough into the frame to conceal him and his pissing cock from my lens and stood close to him while twice saying, ‘Oh no you‘re pissing in the street,’ in an aghast but indulgent way. He told her to take over his cock and point it for him, which she did while pointing out that she really shouldn‘t be. He told her roughly but not nastily that she should just keep doing it and not splash his shoe. I heard rather than saw all this. Percy was pissing happily, but because of a parked car and because she was close to him, all I could get of them both was her back. So I don‘t have a picture of a one-legged man pissing in the street while his lady friend helps him aim, and isn‘t it annoyingly sharp too.
Legs: mine were sore and tired. I need two new hips. Percy was low on piss. I decided to walk back without taking any more photographs. Except for this one.
And it came to pass that the waters of the flood were upon the earth
21st May 2019 Daisy noticed that on Sunday on the nearby green the vicar from the local C of E church of Saint Clements was to conduct a dog blessing. On Saturday night Daisy shampooed Perce. He emerged from all his towels sun-bright white and fluffed.
We were a little late. The weather was lovely. The vicar was stood in front of a pavilion addressing through a small P A a small crowd which included at least a dozen dogs and their owners. The vicar explained to us that it was good when we were nice to our pets but understood that sometimes we were not as perfect as we wished to be. He congratulated God on producing so many marvellous animals for his world. We sang a pretty hymn with some enjoyable hallelujahs. A girl read from the Book of Genesis. Sometimes a dog barked and the other dogs joined in. Percy had a big bark at a huge hairy dog that lifted its leg higher than I can. I walked Percy away then walked him back and around and took some photographs. I joined in a prayer. The vicar announced that he and his assistants would walk among us and bless the dogs. I was photographing the blessing of a brown dog by an assistant and I didn’t notice the priest approach. He asked Percy’s name and leaned over him and touched his back and reading from his guide thanked God for creating Percy, and blessed Percy. While being blessed Percy lifted his leg and blessed the vicar back on the front of his surplice and cassock. Quickly I pointed out to the priest this was happening, but he continued with the last few words of the blessing, which impressed me a lot. Then he said, with a touch of regret but without irritation, and even amiably, that this was the first time any dog had done that and I felt proud. I am well-trained to take pictures of Percy pissing in any interesting situation and even though I had been unprepared for a photograph, and was mainly occupied in warning the vicar, I was still able to take two quick and hardly aimed photographs.
Returned to the house I told Daisy how it had gone. She asked if it was his best surplice and cassock which would need an expensive dry clean. When she looked at the pictures we were pleased it was only his workaday outfit. We hoped Percy had missed his stole. Perhaps I should buy him a box of chocolates. Daisy said that yesterday when she was having a coffee outside a cafe Percy had pissed on her shopping bag which he hadn‘t done previously. And she wondered that today he had pissed for the first time that she knew of on a person. She wondered if he was affected by me sometimes cheerfully saying what a good dog he is a few times after he had contributed to a photograph that pleased me. I think not: he is indifferent to praise.
3rd November 2018 Daisy, Percy and me, went to Morecambe for three days for my 60th birthday. We stayed in a Travellodge having forgotten that we‘d said we‘d never do so again. We remembered that promise when all the things that had made us make it happened again. I woke for the last time, invented some new swear words then set out to walk Perce anywhere. It‘s always nice weather on my birthday. I have never even nearly seen so many mobility scooters. Here‘s a picture with a man with a lot of pale ale. I wish I‘d taken a picture of the smart lady who is here behind him, as after catching him up, she made off with a pack, but I didn‘t think to because Percy wasn‘t pissing. I just read that last bit out to Daisy to see if it was obvious I was joking. She thought it wasn‘t.
A sign at the start of the Stone Jetty explained that filming was underway and anyone who thought they might have been filmed and didnt want to end up on telly should inform someone or other – I forget. I thought I‘d take our six legs down to the far end and have a look at the Irish sea. A thirty-ish chap in a high viz jacket and a practised scowl told me we couldn‘t go any further. I said we could. He said we couldn‘t. I tried some coulding. He responded with can‘ting. There we were, a dance, me trying to go forward and him pushing me back with his belly and holding his arms out sideways to prove he wasn‘t touching me. ‘‘You‘re not allowed to touch me,‘‘ I explained. ‘‘I‘m not,‘‘ he said, bellying me while flapping his arms to show he wasn‘t touching me. Percy‘s lead was now tangled around one of his legs and Percy was looking indignant. I wondered if Percy would nip him. Percy can try to fix confusion with tooth-work. A woman not much older than a girl and wearing bright clothes half-ran over and asked what was happening. The man suddenly shouted, ‘‘Don‘t shout at me,‘‘ in the hope that I‘d suddenly start shouting and he could get a biff in before she arrived completely. I was busy looking smiley and harmless for the young lady. She was a bit cross with him and said she‘d walk me down the jetty. We chatted pleasantly as she worked out what the chances of me being trouble were and once we were past the filming said goodbye, and I walked to the end. There I took this picture and looked at the grey bustling sea and had the usual deep trite moments of reflection. There was also those flowers to think about. A man of my own age who didn‘t bother to impress me that he could if necessary be efficiently nasty turned up, easily apologised for his colleague – ‘‘door-work makes some of them like that‘‘ – and said that he‘d be happy to walk with me back along the jetty whenever I felt like it. He had a nice drift-woody face. He asked quite formally if I‘d like him to tell me about this particular bit of sea. He was a yachtsman, always on the sea, and his son held the record for – I think – rowing to the Isle of man from Morecambe. Whatever it was it took fifteen hours, I remember. When the conversation returned to dry land I learnt that he had for twenty years been the publican at the Nags Head on Deansgate – I‘ve been in there a few times. We found some other coincidences and parted almost as friends a little way after the filmers and all their kit. As I passed the first fellow I said, ‘Alright‘, as if it hadn‘t really been anything rankle-worthy after all, had it? He aimed at blithe and said, ‘‘Wonderful‘‘, his mouth not quite the right shape for the word.
22nd October 2017 Love Your Local I thought this might be my last pic of Percy pissing. It was about midnight in Stretford. After pleasing me by pissing outside the Robin Hood Pub he wriggled under a parked car. I don‘t like to pull on his lead as it can‘t be good for his neck, and anyway I thought it was probably a cat and he would do as he normally does: snarl and brandish his teeth, and then when the cat hissed, spat or raised a paw, retire snarling backwards to piss swaggeringly on everything standing. But I couldn‘t hear snarling. I could hear eating. And he wouldn‘t enjoy spending another half week again slowly sicking up an old kebab. I cajoled my body downwards, and chin on the pavement, grabbed two back legs. As his jaws appeared I saw very briefly the corner of a cling-film wrapped sandwich disappear. I slept badly. He slept well. On today‘s first walk, concentrating, he poohed out eight inches of cling film.
20th October 2017 Percy Missing Last night was disappointing. Percy failed to loiter near the sign for Barton Road – probably, and sensibly, because it would have necessitated actually standing on Barton Road. I was prepared to risk him but he wasn‘t. He then failed to wet a poster with just the initials P P on it, really big too. I‘ve started taking photographs of some of his Near Pisses so as I sighed I pressed the button as he pissed on a National Lottery poster next to it. ‘You‘ve done that lottery joke ages ago, Perce,‘ I muttered. He ignored me. He never bothers much with me when we‘re out. He‘s friendly enough in the house, but outside I only get two looks: ‘Hurry up,‘ and ‘Oi! Can‘t you see I‘m busy here.‘ The evening before he didn‘t piss on the Sun (see above) that all the way towards I was silently begging him to. Go on, Percy, plunge the Solar System into perpetual black. He‘s walked past every Gents we‘ve walked towards.
16th October 2017 Percy Pissing on Holiday This year we took our holiday at Silloth on the coast of Cumbria. It‘s got everything we (Percy and me) need for a photograph: space. Usually the first part of most of these photographs is me elbowing stuff out of the way to make room for Percy‘s performance. In Manchester I end up getting close to keep out attention-seeking stuff. In Silloth, on the beach, on the promenade, in fields, even in front gardens, any objects tend to be nicely far off from each other, as do people. It was easy. Percy pissed: I pointed.