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Friday, 3 October 2014

Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival 2014 Part IV : Punting-lesson with Hammudi al-Rahmoun Pont*, director of Othello (Otel.lo) (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2014 (28 August to 7 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

3 October

Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival 2014 Part IV : Punting-lesson with Hammudi al-Rahmoun Pont*, director of Othello (Otel.lo) (2012)

* NB contains spoilers (but only about punting) *

Principles of punting

* Stand stably on the back-board of the punt – unfortunately, climbing up and down from there in the first place is one thing that makes the punt most unsteady (as does anyone moving position, unless they keep low)

Balance is crucial, but not difficult to achieve

* Be aware, at all times, of overhanging trees (however decorative)

This is where the Cam turns a literal corner between St John's and Trinity

* Likewise, have regard for people in the way, especially those who clearly have no idea how to punt, and steer out of harm’s way

The punt behind is the danger here - unless it changes course, the only way is down, or into, the left-hand side of ours

Adjustment of our position averts the likelihood of being knocked on the side

* Drop the pole, into the water by the side of the punt, as vertically and quickly as possible

To begin with, dropping the pole in its optimal position will feel awkward, and require care and concentration

* Push through the pole as straight as possible, using the side of the punt to push along – it is effective, even if it makes a rough-sounding noise

In this position, the vagaries of not pushing straight, and then ending up having to adjust, mean that bumping against the side-wall is not unlikely (unless a conscious move is made towards the centre of the river)

* Except when avoiding a hazard, steer once the pole has been dropped in and pushed through, using it like a rudder, which simply needs to become second nature – for a large adjustment, pulling the pole through the water from side to back steers it one way, whereas lifting it out from the side, dropping it at the back, and moving it around to the front brings it the other way

Being in a good position to begin with (nothing behind, ahead clear) make being able to push and make any adjustment afterwards much easier

* NB Be aware that, at some points, the river is very deep, so one will have almost no push once the pole comes in contact with the bottom

* At other points, the end of the pole will engage with mud – unless it comes free on a first pull, and with a twist, leave it, as going back for the pole is what the paddle is for

* Other than having a brilliant teacher (four pupils, no dunkings) and admiring the view (when safe to do so), there are no other rules of punting - except getting through a gap in the traffic safely when one can (rather than the niceties of being on one side of the river, not least when scenic willow boughs are less lovely to punt through, and some spots are always deep or muddy)

It's tough teaching - you just need to relax, amongst the detritus of someone else's enjoyment, and relish your pupil's moves

The Wren Library, Trinity College

One can testify that Cambridge's Pint Shop provided a very acceptable alternative to Guinness®, for our Catalan punter, as a reward for his studious efforts on the Cam !


* OK, the name is Hammudi al-Rahmoun Font, but it is fun for the Freudian slip to evoke 'bridge' and 'punt'...

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

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