Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
I love a challenge. So when Maggie May paid me a great compliment in early April, I had to live up to her expectations. She said I could probably photograph a simple sight like a bowl of peas and produce a decent image - and Crazy Cath was quick on the uptake, echoing Maggie May's praise.
So a couple of days later, while I was driving home, I pulled over at a fruit-and-vegetable stall to buy a decent serve of peas. The owner happened to mention that they had little cups of specially grown peas. Yeah, I thought, that'll work for me. I had a busy evening ahead of me and I figured buying the shelled peas would save me a lot of time.
I thanked him for his advice, handed him a tenner and he gave me back a five-dollar note. So I'm thinking, ``Five bucks for a cup of peas?'' Naaah, surely not. Surely he was going to put his paw in the till and hand me another three or four bucks.
Er, no. There was a sticker on the peas. The sticker said ``$5''. I shoulda sent them to the Smithsonian to be preserved.
On my way back to the car, I noticed there was an antique shop nearby. The thought crossed my mind that I should have ducked in there and bought a Wedgwood plate or a crystal bowl, the better to take home the World's Most Expensive Handful Of Peas. Huh, for all I knew the Wedgwood or crystal might have been less expensive than the precious little cargo in my hand.
Instead, I placed the tiny container of peas on the passenger seat of the car, much like a butler would have placed a royal footstool before a weary monarch - with the utmost respect.
When I got home, I unwrapped the gold nugget, er, sorry, the peas. And I stood there shaking my head for several seconds. Not only had I broken the Reserve Bank to pay for them, they fell short in one vital area. They weren't shiny green. You know, like the colour of normal peas. No, mate, they were a dull olive green, a bit like the paintwork on a secondhand army tank. No gloss. No sheen. No class. No pedigree.
I could have gone to the freezer and pulled out some frozen peas and I would have got a better result. But no, Maggie May and Crazy Cath were waiting. And I always believe in working with what I have. So I gritted my teeth and carried on. (Remind me to send the dentistry bill to Maggie and Cath, will ya?)
It was like working with plasticine. I longed for the bright green peas that I had imagined I was buying. So I decided I would grab a cheese grater from the kitchen and shave some ice over the peas. You know, to make 'em glisten a bit. But the ice cubes kept slipping in my grasp and I gave up when it looked as if I would slice my fingers to ribbons.
But I'm a determined sort. So I took out a small, sharp kitchen knife and yep, you guessed it, I tried cutting little slivers off the ice cubes. But slivers are still a lot bigger than ice shavings, so I had to wait a few minutes for the ice to melt, but then when it did, I had beads of moisture on the peas.
And that's when I got the most interesting shot of the day. In trying to liven up the colour, I had placed a red Skittles lolly (candy) among the peas. And if you look really closely at the last photograph (below) you'll see that the melting ice has caused the red Skittles to shed its colour rather dramatically.
And you want to know what I did with the peas after I finished shooting these photographs? I put them straight in the bin.
So I'll have to take up Maggie May's and Crazy Cath's challenge again. However, next time I'll do it with normal peas.
It'll be the justice of the peas.