The joy of the jump

Pub­lished: August 19th, 1997. Pho­to­graph: Alan Bet­son

The Irish Times Magazine - - THE TIMES WE LIVED IN - Ar­minta Wallace Ar­chive pho­to­graphs and other Ir­ish Times im­ages can be pur­chased from irish­times. com/ pho­to­s­ales

Apho­to­graph can be worth a thou­sand words – or, like to­day’s de­light­ful im­age from the sum­mer of 1997, summon to mind just one. Jump. Ac­tu­ally, if you con­sult a real- world dic­tionary – if you can even find one – you’ll find it takes quite a few words to de­scribe the ac­tion which has been so dra­mat­i­cally cap­tured by this pho­to­graph, part of the port­fo­lio which won Alan Bet­son the press pho­tog­ra­pher of the year award for 1997.

“To spring into the air; to leap, es­pe­cially to spring free from the ground or other base by the mus­cu­lar ac­tion of feet and legs; to move en­er­get­i­cally, hap­haz­ardly or ir­reg­u­larly; to un­dergo a ver­ti­cal or lat­eral dis­place­ment, or a sud­den sharp change; to show ea­ger­ness; to bus­tle with ac­tiv­ity; to rise sud­denly in rank or sta­tus; to start out or for­ward, usu­ally used with ‘ off’ . . .”

The word also turns up in an un­usu­ally large and var­ied num­ber of com­mon phrases. It’s some­thing we hu­man crea­tures re­ally like to do. Jump aboard. Jump over. Jump to con­clu­sions. Jump bail. Jump ship. Jump the gun, jump the queue, jump the shark. Or, as seems most ap­pro­pri­ate to our photo, jump for joy.

The boy who is about to make a splash in Ringsend Basin is named as An­thony An­drews from Ringsend. In the lower half of the frame is the fa­cade of Boland’s Mill – his­tor­i­cally res­o­nant though not, even nowa­days, a place many of us would as­so­ciate with the care­less joy of sum­mer swims.

Joy is at the core of this pic­ture. It’s in the feath­ery blue of the sum­mer sky and the wild, scrawny ex­u­ber­ance of the boy’s arms and legs. Against the solid bulk of the mill build­ing, he looks as free as a bird yet also, some­how, frag­ile. Hence the train­ers, to pro­tect his feet from smack­ing into the wa­ter.

He’s call­ing out in tri­umph as he leaps. We may not know what he’s say­ing, but this mag­i­cal im­age shouts: “Sum­mer! We’re go­ing to get one this year! We are! Let’s jump in!”

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