THE one photograph from yesterday’s #NRMconference at Namboole that I wish I had taken was the first one of the day, right at the security checkpoint where I was waiting to get my laptop cleared.
The access at the start of the day where the President is involved is a somewhat uncertain affair that involves explaining oneself to many polite but firm soldiers whose commitment to the task they are assigned is such that you would rather watch somebody else put it to the test than volunteer for the caper.
I have had many years’ practice of standing patiently by the side till the soldiers in question have done their job, and Sunday morning gave me another thirty minutes of experience during which the photo opportunity presented itself:
A large fellow employed by Silk Events as a ‘Bouncer’ had squeezed through the Sentinel security checkpoint, inescapably rubbing his massive muscles along the inside of the thing as he went through, and walked quickly past the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier doing the checking in spite of the beeping sound that occurred as he had gone through.
“Gwe, allo!” the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier declared.
And the bouncer stopped, a little bit surprised.
I could tell that the large fellow was uncomfortable being taken through a process that he probably runs on a much less dangerous scale every weekend or every other day. He had this demeanour about him that I would expect from a doctor who finds himself being processed through a clinic in a foreign land where he fails to start up the conversation that says, “You know, I am actually a doctor myself…”
That conversation is useless because of the famous taunt, “Physician, heal thyself!” as well as the practicality of things when one is not feeling well.
The doctor could be an orthopaedic surgeon, for instance, but when he gets a toothache he would have to totally succumb to a dental technician without asking questions. Or he could be a professor of epidemiology but once he sprains his ankle he is as good as a cabbage farmer being asked to design a political campaign poster.
This was my bouncer pal, about the size of a cow, being stopped by a mere human being at a security check point.
He came to a halt quite quickly but then I saw him doing a mental calculation that took in the diminished (compared to himself) size of the plain clothes soldier who had said, “Gwe, allo!” and factored in the numerous other plain clothes and uniformed soldiers within walk-over-and-slap distance.
His mental mathematics clearly involved the fact that there were possibly many years of intense and specialised training in ways to maim or kill people identified as a threat or a danger, all compacted into the humbly sized body of this fellow.
The equation must have made sense because the only way anyone could say, “Gwe, allo!” to a person with muscles the size of a modest commercial building, was if they had some hidden element within them that could neutralise the strength and energy he could muster up in anger, irritation or at the call of duty.
Actually, judging from the speed with which he lowered his shoulders, turned his head down, and took a couple of steps back, I could tell that his calculation had replaced ‘slap’ with ‘mortally-destroy-beyond-possible-recognition’ – which made me realise that the fellow was actually a fairly wise man.
But that’s NOT when I would have taken the photograph.
He came back to the sentinel checkpoint and submitted himself to a pat-down that was not very efficient since the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier could not reach his neck. In fact, if the bouncer had somehow implanted bullets or a small landmine into that neck as thick as most people’s thighs, then we would be reading a very different flavour of news today.
The photograph I would have taken would have been the one after the hulk had finally completed his check and been cleared of most of the suspicion the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier harboured either by default or because of the beeping.
My missed photograph opportunity occurred as the traumatisingly-sculptured Silk Events giant cautiously bounced off into the stadium, and the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier turned quite deliberately and watched him carefully.
My missed photograph opportunity would have captured the small-bodied plain clothes chap thinking to himself the thought: “But if this guy had caused any trouble after I said, ‘Gwe, allo’… eh!”
I will regret for a long time, missing that photograph.