BACK TO FRONT by Simon Annand
In December 2010, Simon Annand had some wonderful photographs published in The Sunday Times Magazine and it prompted me to write to him although my daughter had received his book, "The Half" as a gift previously so I knew his work already. The Half is a great book because it shows actors as they really are - nomadic performers working into the night often scraping a living no matter how famous they might be. His response was cool but interested in that he said that "In principle, yes, this is something we could do" and, in order to assess whether he could make a worthwhile contribution to the project, he asked me to send him a few examples of the photographs by some of the other photographers in the project. I sent him the whole lot via a Guest Pass to the set on Flickr.
We met finally at Soho House where we shared a bottle of wine and had a very pleasant conversation. Apparently, I swore quite a lot and this interested Simon who asked if there were two sides to me and I said that I thought that there were particularly as I had had to restrain myself as a lawyer, at least to my clients. Although I was no longer a solicitor, that side of me still existed albeit to a lesser extent than before. So Simon came up with his idea to photograph me with swear words written on my body and we thought that, on one side of my body we could write some more tame expletives, and on the other, the much stronger swear words. I told him how my mother would admonish me and my siblings if we ever said "Shut up" or "Crap".
We continued to keep in touch trying to arrange a shoot and, in the meantime, I attended his brilliant show in Shoreditch which was very extensive but which showed so well what a great practitioner of the photographic art he is. His portraits are so varied and yet they are unmistakably his work. Simon is a busy man so it wasn't until 28th June 2012 that we met at his very comfortable home in London N16 and chatted a bit before deciding what words to use and on which side of my chest. He then wrote the more benign words on my chest and the bad words on my back. He photographed my front first and then, when I turned round and he saw the back, he laughed out loud and to hear Simon laugh or to see him smile is a special pleasure because he is naturally somewhat lugubrious and can seem a rather grave person. Then he beams and his whole face lights up and you immediately feel the warmth of his personality. He is a delightful fellow.
And so finally, I received the photographs from Simon in December 2012 almost two years to the day that I had first approached him but, boy, were they worth the wait. The idea was quite fun anyway but in the execution, it was really amusing. I was so very pleased not only with the fantastic images but also to think that the great Simon Annand had photographed me and, even more important, that I had made his acquaintance. A very, very satisfying experience all round.