During a meander along the sea wall in Lymington, I stopped to watch a swan absorbed intently in preening its feathers. Remembering I’d brought along my new handy video recorder (a Kodak Playsport) I thought I’d have a little practise. Focusing on the swan I hit ‘record’ with the sole purpose of keeping my hand as steady as possible. A few people passed by as evidenced by the crunch of gravel in my recording. A lady and child approached. I guess the child was around 8 years old and as they drew close the boy exclaimed “Look mum. That lady is filming the swan”.To my utter and continuing disbelief, the woman retorted “It’s only a f*****g bird!” The comment was directed at the child, not at me. I was speechless. To be fair, this could have happened anywhere in the UK. It just seemed more shocking in such a beautiful environment. As they departed the boy turned his head and we locked eyes. I remember thinking “What chance have you got…?” Shame on you, lady.
For some unfathomable reason I didn’t erase the recording immediately. I was glad the next day as I was thinking “Is it just me? Is this behaviour less shocking now than it would have been several years ago?” I decided to play back the video to two of my children (grown up, I hasten to add!) I was especially interested to see the reaction of my 18 year old son. How would he react? What if he just shrugged and said “That’s the way it is now” ? I handed him the video and watched. His face told me all I needed to know. He was appalled. Phew.