The punishment popped into my head after I accidentally stumbled across the World Obnoxious Person Championships at a Dubai beach recently. You won’t have seen the event advertised. It was contested by invitation only. The clear winner was a man so objectionable that within ten seconds of becoming aware of him I had already thought of half a dozen ways I would like to injure him.
Let me explain. I’ve recently taken up kayaking and enjoy nothing more than a pre-breakfast paddle off Jumeirah Kite Beach. There is not a great deal to see or do – no white water rapids, caves, coves or surf – but it is a good workout. It is peaceful and I enjoy it.
Without any particular geographic landmark to aim for, I usually flounder out towards the buoys a short distance from the sands. And that is where I discovered my new nemesis. Fifty metres out to sea. Standing on a paddleboard. Taking a selfie. This, in itself, was enough to start irritating me. But it is none of my business what other people choose to do with their time. So I kept myself to myself.
But then he started shouting at me and waving his arms around. Perhaps, I innocently assumed, he had seen something interesting and was letting me know about it. A school of fish? A turtle? Treasure? Better go a bit closer to see what it was.
He did not like that one bit. It was at this point he started splashing water at me and I realised he wanted me far, far away. I should point out that I was at least ten metres away in a calm and silent sea. In no way was I encroaching on his personal space, but the reason he was getting so cross is that I was obscuring the background of his photograph.
I would love to tell you that I did flick a jellyfish out of the water with my paddle. I’d love to tell you I slowly and carefully pointed out the futility of his constant narcissistic need for self-gratification by documenting every single moment of life with a smartphone.
I’d love to say I paddled closer and deliberately got in the way of his photographs. But I was too shocked. So I just stared at him in disbelief. Until, just moments after raising his phone to take the precious selfie this moron slipped off the paddleboard and splashed headfirst into the sea.
It is a picture that will stay with me forever, and I didn’t even need to take a camera with me.