Wednesday, 28 September 2011

HALF FOOL by Anthony Hatley

HALF FOOL by Anthony Hatley


I first met Anthony in 1979 when I was working as a solicitor in Haslemere and I acted for him on his purchase of his first property. I believe that he was working in IT then but now he is a successful professional photographer and, of course, I am no longer a solicitor. As Anthony said recently, who would have thought that, 32 years later, he would end up photographing me in Brighton? During that time, I continued to act for him and his charming wife Diane and also now and again we would bump into each other outside the office and so it was that, in 2011, we met at a retirement party for an old colleague of mine. We took the opportunity to chat briefly and catch up and it was agreed that we would get together for a shoot in the not too distant future.


A few months later, Anthony emailed me and eventually we arranged that he would come over to Brighton for a shoot on 28th September 2011.  Anthony arrived with flowers for Jane and so started a very enjoyable day firstly spent inside the house and then ending up on Brighton beach. Anthony had a very clear idea in his mind what shots he wanted but also he was not afraid to improvise  and, all the while, we chatted about this and chat. It was a very easygoing and thoroughly fulfilling shoot. It ended quite a few hours later when he bid me goodbye at our front door and gave me a big hug which was unexpected but was borne of a longstanding friendship the strength of which was cemented that bright September day.


Anthony subsequently sent me a shortlist of eleven images which I looked at very carefully and in the end, I plumped for this one. Not only is it a superb photograph, it has Jane 's fantastic painting ''Running on Empty'' in the background. That painting is part of her ''Station of the Skirt'' series in which Jane examined women's roles in society in general and her role in our family unit in particular. It took me a long time to understand the meaning of this painting hence the title I have given to this beautiful photograph taken by a great photographer.


A Postscript:
Some months after receiving this final image by email, I received a package in the post. lt was addressed to ''TJR Andrews'' which l thought was interesting because, nowadays, few people if any, write to me in that way i.e. using my full initials. l began to work out in my mind who it was from and although this sort of meant that l was on the right track, nothing prepared me for the surprise l had when l opened the parcel. lt literally took my breath away. l saw that it was a book and, by then, l had deduced that it was a gift. l pulled it out and read the words "Half Fool" as l looked at the fantastic photograph on front. Jane was sitting across the table from me and asked why l had said ''Blimey'' as l stood up and then immediately slumped back down in the chair opposite her. l said "It's a book....of photographs by Anthony Hatley... you know the former client of mine who photographed me here''. She replied "Oh you mean the guy who brought the lovely flowers?" But l did not answer as by now l was reading the dedication printed inside which ended with "I am proud to be photographer 161". l told Jane that she would have to read it as l would only cry. So l handed her the book after looking through it and she read it out loud and tears welled up and trickled down my cheeks. She then looked through the book herself. ''These are wonderful photographs, you know'' she said. l could hardly believe the kindness, the generosity of spirit and the humanity of the man who had sent this wonderful present. Wonderful - a well used word often thrown away in speech. The adjective of ''wonder'', which conjures up a picture of a child beholding something so full of beauty and light that all he can do is behold it with awe and with eyes and mouth open. Something magical. Spiritual and mysterious. Not just a book of beautiful photographs by a very talented photographer but much more than that. A simple act of pure kindness. From a man whom as he left me that day, hugged me with the same warmth that prompted him to send this gift, this ''early Christmas present'' as he put it.


At the end of the film of the musical, ''Camelot'', King Arthur despairs of his life thus far but is uplifted by coming across a young boy whom has stowed away to fight with Arthur in what is likely to be his last battle. The boy upholds the principles of the Round Table and so Arthur commands the boy not to fight but to return to England to preach the gospel of the Round Table lest it be forgot. l liken this to my life as a lawyer. Did l really make any difference to people's lives? Was it all worth it? Will anyone remember? Arthur is asked by King Pellinore who the boy was. Arthur replies triumphantly, "One of what we all are...less than a drop in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea....but it seems that some of the drops do sparkle. Some do sparkle!"


Thank you Anthony for a wonderful day and a wonderful portrait.


Link to Website - http://www.anthonyhatley.co.uk/


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