Snapshot of the week: So many British stereotypes
There are moments when you are traveling or living in another country in which you see or experience something that is laughably stereotypical. For example when you are walking through some part of France and see the stout old man with a big nose and wispy white hair who is wearing a black beret and carrying a fresh baguette and a bottle of wine. Or maybe you are at a ball game in the US, and you see an American with a big pot belly waving a US flag while eating a hot dog and drinking a Budweiser. Then you realize that those stereotypes, while obviously not any kind of whole truth of a country or a culture, are also not merely comical extrapolations. They really do exist.
I had one of those moments this week while crossing the amazing Millennium Bridge over the River Thames towards the South Bank of London.
The bagpiper had been playing on the bridge, as was a saxophonist on the other end of the bridge. The police officer approached the bagpiper to let him know that there had been some complaints about noise, and that maybe it would be best for all concerned if he found a spot to play a bit farther away. The police officer had the air of someone who was just doing his job, nothing personal. He looked serious and professional, but he was very polite and even somewhat friendly with the piper. He almost seemed embarrassed to have to relocate him. They had a nice chummy little chat to try and make the situation a bit less awkward. The officer pointed out that after all it was getting a bit windy on the bridge. A bit chilly for a kilt.
As I attempted to subtly photograph them I wondered if they had any idea how wonderfully, ridiculously, stereotypically picturesque they looked standing there in the sunset over the River Thames.
The only thing that might have made the image even better would be if someone had included me in the frame, as the typical tourist on the lookout for stereotypes to photograph. And if I’d had a pot-belly and had been wearing an American flag print or a Hawaiian shirt over ugly shorts.