This weekend saw Spencer Tunick, the New York-based photographer known for taking pictures of hundreds of nude people in different locations, at work in Manchester and Salford. He photographed of a thousand nude volunteers in six different locations to reflect the work of artist LS Lowry, for an exhibition at The Lowry gallery (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/8655680.stm).
This might not sound too unusual, now, because Spencer Tunick is known for this type of photograph; but it should be remembered that all those naked volunteers were British people, not porn star or models but ordinary members of the British public. We British have a reputation for being reserved, “No sex please, we’re British” and “We don’t do that, we’re British”; but this photo-shoot certainly disproves that. Anyone who’s been in British city centre on a Friday or Saturday night will testify to that.
Yet too quickly we fall back into those racial and cultural stereotypes, the reserved Englishman, the loud and brash American, the sex mad French woman, the humourless and ordered German, etc...
As a writer, I’m very aware of the danger of falling into the trap of these stereotypes, they can be lazy and patronising to readers. But, like everyone else, I have my own personal prejudices and so easily they can come out in my writing. I’m always trying to keep an eye open for them. One very relevant trap for me is the nasty Christian character. I can often be tempted to pour all the failings and prejudices of the Christian Church into one character, I have to very careful.
This short story of mine, Praying in the Stock Cupboard, I hope doesn’t fall into that trap. The Christian character might not be the most lovable, she’s really quite a pathetic creature, but not the all consuming monster either. The story can be found at: http://www.gayflashfiction.com/Story_Archive/Praying.html