From the field notes of 6ft1swell, summer 2011...
It's a lovely, sunny day on the South Bank. I'm browsing the second-hand books outside the National Film Theatre. My friend's just texted to say he'll be five minutes late. I know that means ten, maybe twenty minutes of waiting for him but we don't have to be anywhere. There's no rush.
Then suddenly, my whole mood changes. The female muscle radar has gone off. Beautiful tanned legs at ten o'clock. Short skirt, wedge heels and, crucially, bulging calves. Without thinking I move away from the books and towards her. My hand reaches into my pocket for my phone. The adrenaline surge comes, my heart beating faster and stronger with every second that passes.
Camera. Video. Ready.
I get closer. The rush has become so great my hand is shaky. They're going inside. There are a few steps to climb. They will slow and her calves will have to do some work. Perfect for me as long as I can keep my hand steady.
My heart pumps the blood through my body with such force I can feel it in my ears. She's started to climb the steps. I close in. Her calves are in shot. Good, good, now keep them there. The counter reads 0.09, 0.10, 0.11. I want more, more, more.
We're in the foyer now. Voices, people around us. The spell breaks as the fear of discovery, of being caught, overrides the urge to capture her calves for myself. I stop and she walks on.
Stop. Saving video. Please wait. Done.
My heart beat begins to slow, my breathing gradually returns to normal. My hand is steady again. I am back to normality. Back to sanity. Out of The Madness.
But I have so little to show for it. I have not even captured twenty seconds' worth, and what I have got is extremely shaky, just enough to get a couple of usable screencaps from. I find that her skirt was not nearly as short as I'd thought, her legs not nearly as tanned, her calves not nearly as big.
It's always like this. The video is always disappointing.
And yet this is the fifth time I've done something like this in a month. So if I'm not doing it for the result, why am I doing it at all? The only logical conclusion is that I'm doing it for the rush. I'm doing it for the feeling, for the moment of temporary madness. It's scary, of course, scary because it turns me into a person I would rather not be. A person who follows and records women in public. But having said that, time inside The Madness is time spent in a state of great exhilaration...
I haven't attempted to capture any candid legs or calves for over a year now, but like the recovering alcoholic on the twelve-step program, I'm well-aware that it would only take one pair of perfect calves to get me reaching into my pocket for my phone again.
Fortunately for the likes of me, there are plenty of other 'sufferers' out there who do have a steady hand as well as a female muscle radar. They also seem to have more luck sighting truly exceptional calves than I ever did.
And even better than that, there are others whose hand is so steady, even within the intensity of The Madness, that they can get the kind of video that I once aspired to.
Ironically, when I watch this kind of clip, it's not the sight of the beautiful calves that appeals to me most. In fact, it's the fantasy of being the one walking behind her, the thrill of The Madness that returns as I imagine being the one holding the camera.
Watch more of this fella's work on his youtube channel
For candid calves, visit johncalfaddicted's Ladies Candid Muscular Calves blog
And keep working the program!