Contralto with Bass accompaniment; a weird photo on our fridge

This faded old photo hung in Zak’s flat in London, left behind by a former tenant.  Now it lives on our fridge.  It’s a weird scene.  A woman and a man in a punt on a lake. She holds him by the coat-tail to steady him as he hurls a double-bass* into the water. Something has gone in already. The bow thrown in like a dart?  In the background a sunny lawn leads up to a redbrick Tudor country house.


The man in white tie and tails, and the woman in strapless velvet and Alice band are like ghosts from thirty years ago beginning a long summer evening’s journey into chaos.  God knows what’s actually happening here but it’s a haunting thing.  Live with it long enough and you imagine you were there and can remember the sound across the water, a fantasy nightmare of morning-after dread. ‘Did we? Oh God!’

An illusion. It’s not summer, it’s winter.  The trees are bare up by the house.  So it’s probably not a garden party going off the rails.  Art, not reportage. A bit of theatre. It’s not just rockers who smash their gear up.  It’s a startling image.  The mad sense of purpose, the sheer determination to chuck that bass. The energy between them.  Who were these two?  A singer and her accompanist? You can hear her voice in the photo. Wish we could read the photographer’s signature, Christopher Something. Kudos to him for an iconic image, a real slice of the time. It would’ve made a brilliant photo for a gig. Maybe that’s what it was for.

*Actually a cello I now realise! A very Happy New Year to you all.




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