I’ve always had a bizarre fascination with the unusual. In real life it often manifests itself as me wandering around and taking odd routes to my destination. Living in London I would spend hours just arbly walking around the city. I found the strangest, most delightful hidden gems. Strange sculptures, a beautiful ancient staircase and odd little sights. In Belfast I did the same. Perhaps I’ve grown up with an accute sense of the ridiculous. I love to see humour in the strangest of places.
What really helps is to have my camera on hand, but every so often there is the split second of intrigue that is over before I’ve had time to flick off the lens cap. On holiday in Ireland once I saw a small cluster of sheep, nothing unusual there (they’re like pigeons in a city), but then I noticed a black crow come swooping down and landing clumsily on the back of one of them, followed by a few more. My reaction wasn’t fast enough, my bus didn’t stop. But I think that part of the sheer magic of that moment is that I was the only one on the bus that saw it and it will forever spring to mind when I see a sheep or a crow. It makes me smile.
Still on the topic of the unusual, a friend and I went for a walk through the city today. All the way down St George’s Mall and across Thibault Square to where the large swinging shark sculptures stand, slowly rotating in the breeze. They’re amazing, and I found their shadows particularly intriguing.
Just around the corner is another open square with trees. And between our fellow pedestrians were dotted metal scultures. Life-sized people going about their business, almost invisible in the normal bustle. A toddler plays with a piece of litter, his plastic motorbike nearby. A business man walks purposeful with his cellphone to his ear. Another man sits motionless, newspaper in hand, on a bench.
And while the two of us were surrounded by people on their lunch and smoke breaks, it felt almost as though we had stepped into a strange reality. Reaching out to touch the arm of the seated man felt almost – wrong.
That sort of unusual is electrifying.