|Our bikes just outside of Tatsfield Village. Pic: Andy Smith.|
We met on the green as always and decided that the best bet would be Tatsfield Village, bearing in mind the old Tatsfield Bus Stop was still taped off and out of bounds.
When we got there the tea and biscuits came out and Andy told me about a photographer who had sold a shot of a potato for one million dollars. A shot of a potato. This sort of thing annoys me – and I know it annoys Andy too. We start to think of the people in this world starving or living on the breadline and we think, What fucking arsehole is stupid enough to spend a million dollars on a photograph of a fucking potato?
"We're heading for a revolution," I said, looking over at the pub, The Old Ship.
"We've already had one," said Andy, referring to the recent EU referendum.
"That sign over the pub door doesn't really do anything for the pub, does it," said I. "And nor does all that writing on the windows," I added, having noticed writing advertising a "BBQ" and a live band. Why write all over the windows, it lowers the tone, I thought, remarking how, if The Old Ship closed what would happen to the Tatsfield community.
"Pubs aren't the heart of the community anymore," said Andy, and I had to agree with him. These days people are insular, preferring to 'stay indoors' watching Sky Movies and drinking supermarket beer.
"Technology is isolationist," I said.
"It is," Andy replied.
"Everything's designed to keep us indoors," I added, making reference to Skype. "Instead of a meeting in New York, we just go on Skype and stay in," I added. Andy nodded.
"I just want to know how one gets into a position to sell a photograph of a potato for a million dollars," Andy said, mildly peeved at the whole situation.
"I'm not sure," I said, checking Google on my phone and finding the story, about a man called Kevin Abosch, a photographer. The potato, incidentally, was Irish and organic and you can read all about it, by clicking here.
"It's probably a case of who you know," I said, "but I understand what you mean: how the hell does he get himself in a position where he can sell a photograph of a knarled old spud for a million dollars?"
We both wondered how. Andy filled me in a little on the story. The guy specialises in portrait photographs with black backgrounds. He was, according to The Independent a 'celebrated photographer'. Celebrated for what? For somehow selling a photograph of a potato to some gullible idiot for a million dollars? It made me wonder whether the photograph he sold was a one-off, or whether he'd given the guy a JPEG. If the photograph was digital, that would mean it wouldn't be original or rare and that Abosch could sell exactly the same image to somebody else, making it far from being exclusive and valuable. He could print off loads of them and sell them to Ikea and we could all buy one for £20. That would put the buyer's nose out of joint and reduce his million dollar investment (if that's what it was) to dust. Did he check this, I wonder? I wouldn't pay a million dollars for a photograph unless I was the only one in the world with the image, the print. Fucking hell, I'd want the camera that took the photograph. Imagine how you would feel if you forked out a million dollars on a potato photograph only to find an identical image on the wall in your local McDonald's a few months later. You must have more money than sense if you're prepared to spend a million quid on anything, unless it's a decent house or life-saving medical treatment for somebody.
I know we live in a free country and that America is the land of the free and all that, but surely there ought to be some kind of law against people squandering so much money when other people are in dire straights.
We enjoyed our two cups of tea and Belvita biscuits and then we rode home. The rain held off and never really returned apart from a few brief showers later in the day. The ride home was very pleasant. As usual there were a few Lycra Monkeys around, but when we hit the 269 we put our bikes into top gear and roared towards Warlingham Green where we parted, promising to meet again next weekend for some more cycling.
I reached home around 1000hrs.