Occasionally, when I’ve had a drink or two, I fantasise about earning a fortune by taking all the photographs I have amassed of Fred and turning them in to some kind of child-based Top Trumps. There would be ones that are worth maximum points for cuteness or messiness; or the one where he’s having a total meltdown after mistakenly peeling his orange that could become an unbeatable tantrum throwing card. You get the idea – it’s a solid gold winner. And then there’s this photo.

How to rank this photo in a pack of Top Trumps? I feel that it demands a new category relating to ‘inappropriate juxtaposition’. Juxtaposition is, after all, one of the bedrocks of child photography. Usually these are confined to simple differences of size – placing your small baby/child next to a large fibre-glass dinosaur or a very fat relative. This then easily extends to juxtapositions of age where your recently born, fresh and shiny offspring is held next to a decrepit and not-long-for-this-world grandparent. But occasionally the Gods smile upon you and, as you are strolling through a park in Spain of all places, you see this giant, obscene, nihilistic graffiti and know what you have to do.

Will it one day become his cover photo on Facebook, or whatever passes for Facebook 10 years from now?

It should be noted that it would be impossible for me to take this same photo right now. Fred is currently obsessed with learning to read. He spells out everything he sees and so the simple instruction “Why don’t you go and stand next to that wall while I take a photograph?” would result in a curious “Why?” Followed by a determined attempt to apply all he has thus far learnt about phonics to the still novel combination of F U C and the Kicking K. Alas now, this photo would never happen but a year ago it was tremendous fun. He even looks like he’s been caught in the act of painting it himself. As if this is his mantra or ambition. Let’s be honest, what’s the point of having kids if you can’t take inappropriate photos of them? Maybe, I should re-phrase that last sentence to avoid arrest. What’s the point of having kids if you can’t take inappropriate photos of them juxtaposed next to rude graffiti?

Now that this photo exists, I find it interesting to speculate on its lifespan. Although it’s currently kept from him, when will Fred be able to see it and appreciate its power? When he’s 13? 14? Basically I cannot wait for us to be able to look at it together and both piss ourselves laughing. Will it one day become his cover photo on Facebook, or whatever passes for Facebook 10 years from now? Most of the photographs I take of Fred are throwaway, they capture a moment or a look that is usually very similar to thousands of other moments or looks and they don’t bear repeated inspection but this one, precisely because it’s wrong will, I suspect, still be around for many years to come. That’s one profound lesson that having a child has hammered home which is simply to TAKE THE BLOODY PHOTOGRAPH! Because if you don’t you’ll regret it forever and then they’ll learn to read.

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