The Beauty of Chance. Words & picture by Nick Small.
I was flying back up to Manchester from Newquay a few weeks ago, gazing out from my window seat, when I saw parallel contrail lines tracking rapidly across the sky. I managed to switch the camera on and focus just in time to press the shutter as the trails passed in front of the lonely moon. No time to think: just see, react and shoot. Zen, and the art of snapping.
I loved the result. In an instant, the image conjured two of my favourite lyrics from obscure recesses of my memory:
“A white moon appears like a hole in the sky,
The mangroves grow quiet.
In the Brisa de la Palma
A teenage Rasputin
Takes the sting from a gin”.
The Go Betweens “Bye Bye Pride”
“Like a pale moon in a sunny sky
Death gazes down as I pass by
To remind me that I’m but my father’s son”
Billy Bragg “Tank Park Salute”
The image and the words, created by different people, years apart from each other, all forever married by the moment.
There are some people for whom contrails are portents of doom, believing them to be laden with chemicals designed to adversely affect our weather, or simply to gradually poison us. I don’t mean Climate Change worriers, who may have some justification for seeing air travel as problematic: no, I mean people who believe in lizard folk, alien invaders, an elite force of evil beings hell-bent on wiping out the world’s population, and who believe that we are being sprayed from the stratosphere in some demonic pest control exercise. These are not contrails, innocent water droplets crystallizing like piped icing against the deep blue of space. No, these are those toxic instruments of death: chemtrails.
Whatever the trails are (and who am I to gainsay these prophets of annihilation?), to me they make this photograph very beautiful indeed.