I’m not a natural traveller, but a friend and I had been talking about driving to Trieste for about ten years – slightly more time than it might take!

Time is an issue though, and both of us must be running out to some extent. Last year we opted for finally getting round to doing it, and set the date for this year. The middle of October was chosen, and on the fifteenth I set off by train to meet him in Suffolk, from where he would drive us, there and back, as Hobbits go.

There was a purpose to all this – or was that a porpoise? It was to allow me the unalloyed pleasure of walking past the statue of James Joyce, whilst appearing not to notice him. The intended comic moment became more comic in reality. My camera packed up a couple of weeks before we were due to go. No problem, I thought. I can take the old Sony Handycam – a decade out of date but still going strong. All those stories I put up on Vimeo have been shot with it!

The salamander in the firewood though, was that my friend would have to do the shooting. He’s about as much of a technophile as I am.

I spotted Joyce from a hundred yards away, a slim, upright figure, motionless among the desultory few who were crossing the bridge on foot. There are tourists in Trieste, even in October, but the place was quietly bustling rather than frenetically overcrowded.

There’s our man, I said, perhaps sounding like some B-movie hit-man supplied by central casting. Where? Keep looking, I told him, and we strode down the Canal Grande to our destiny. Then, as we neared the end of the bridge I sprung on my partner what it was he had to do. It’s like a trumpet, I told him, passing over the Handycam. You switch it on here, and you film here. You zoom in here, and you zoom out here too. You can do it all with one hand, like holding a trumpet. I’ve never held a proper trumpet. Maybe I should have asked, but hasn’t everyone held a trumpet, even if only a toy one?

So I sauntered over the bridge, looking cool, and avoided the Irishman’s glance, staying on the far side of the road. Let him wonder! Then, just out of his line of sight, I crossed over and looked around the buildings, which are impressive. Then I turned and walked back, passing him as I had intended to do. It worked like a dream.

My friend was at the end of the bridge, holding the camera like a saxophone.

He said, you’ll have to do it again.

What?

I think I missed you.

You’re kidding?

No, I’m pretty sure I missed you, at the crucial moment.

The footage shows me, not that cool as it turns out, walking across the bridge, and then the trumpet voluntary kicks in, and we zoom, in, zoom out, pan wildly, find Joyce, lose him, find me, lose me, not necessarily in that order. I couldn’t have written a better screenplay for the culmination of a fifteen hundred kilometre drive from one side of the continent to the other.

I’m a big fan of Daniel Boorstein’s old book on the falsification of reality (The Image, a history of pseudo events in America ). I don’t know if it’s still in print, but if it is, get hold of a copy, because it still stands up to scrutiny. A pseudo-event, in case you haven’t jumped to it, is an event staged for the camera: re-run, re-envisaged, totally fabricated.  Of course, you might wish to consider, at this point, just to what extent a written account of a past occurrence – even at Owl Creek Bridge – is itself, a pseudo-event.

It’s OK, I said. We’ll make do with what you got. Joyce, I think, would have appreciated the comic irony, and even if he didn’t, I do!

Of course, what I should have said when my friend proposed that I repeat the exercise was, if only I’d thought of it at the time….No, no I won’t

Meanwhile here’s the latest collection of short stories from BHD…49 Tales, Anecdotes,Flash Fictions, Monologues and Short Stories…

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