Here's a thing. Every week I look at the photo competition in the Guardian Weekend magazine to see whether the theme is one on which I might have anything to enter, and a fortnight ago, for the first time, it was: 'graffiti'. So I sent in the photo that I took on August 27th, somewhere between Clapton and Little Venice, so very definitely in London, of my favourite graffiti as featured here.
Now, I knew I hadn't won, as they'd have been in touch, so I was surprised to see that very same view featured amongst the winners today. I would show you, but they don't put the pics on their website, and I thought it might be a bit naughty to scan it. At first I thought that someone might have ripped off my photo, but no, it's not the same picture. As well as being a smaller part of the scene, it's taken from a different angle - more head on - and earlier in the year; the ivy hasn't grown so high as in mine. It is, however, without a shadow of a doubt, the same piece of graffiti, the same location.
Leaving aside the fact that my photo is, in my humble opinion, better (the winning one cuts out all the interesting trompe l'oieul that the graffiti artist has achieved with the white-painted brickwork), what really irks me is the accompanying caption, supplied by the photographer, and that I will quote (fair usage, I think): 'Among all the political slogans and sectarian murals prominent in Belfast, I loved the juxtaposition of this equally heartfelt statement.' Now that very definitely and deliberately implies that the photo was taken in Belfast, and that, I think, would contribute to its significance.
Yet I cannot be the only person who has seen this very 'mural' on either the G.U. or the River Lee (in fact, I'm sure someone will tell me which). Unless someone has painted exactly the same thing, on exactly the same blue-painted wall, in exactly the same alignment with the brickwork, with the same concrete and the same ivy below it, then that picture was not taken in Belfast but in London. What's more, the people at the Guardian presumably had my entry in front of them as well, clearly saying that it was in London, so one can only assume that they either didn't notice or didn't care. As always, the idea that it's Belfast makes for a better 'story', and the fact that a few readers out of hundreds of thousands might notice that this is actually inaccurate, matters far less.
Interestingly, in the 'meet a reader' column in the main paper today features my friend Donna, and they've spelt her name wrong.