|I SEE NO SHOPS by Michael Whelan|
I love London. I was born there in 1951 and, although the family moved down to the coast in 1964, I have returned many times over the years; I worked at Barker's in Kensington for a short while after leaving school and I stayed with my brother in a flat slap bang in the middle of Soho, I read Law at Queen Mary College in Mile End from 1971 to 1974 living in Leytonstone, Clapton and Ealing, I returned to study for my professional exams in Lancaster Gate and lived in Ealing at first and then on the King's Road and then, during our courtship and after Jane and I got married, I came up to London to meet when she worked in Knightsbridge and also for completions, the cinema, cricket at Lord's, Football at White Hart Lane and tennis at Wimbledon. So it was absolutely no hardship to accede to Michael Whelan's request that I meet him at Euston (near where I once worked as an usher at The Shaw Theatre). At first, he felt it was too sunny for the photographs he wanted to try and almost cancelled. But thankfully, once we got to the location he had decided upon, it clouded over every so often providing him with the perfect light.
He asked me to bring some binoculars with me and when we reached the location just outside the UCL Hospital, he asked me to adopt various poses including this one where I am training the glasses onto the hospital itself. Coincidentally, this is the hospital where I went to see the neurologist, Professor Leas, for a second opinion after my initial diagnosis of Parkinson's in 2005. Michael didn't know that until I told him on receipt of the photograph. in Michael's own words "the light is lovely in this shot... I'm loving the tonal consistency between your clothes and the street, think it works out really well..." Well, I think it works out wonderfully well. It is an ordinary pose in some ways and yet in the context of my project, it is extraordinary and unique.
Whilst we were shooting, two girls came up to us to ask questions for a project they were undertaking about traditional British dishes. They were Polish students and when one of them asked if I had ever eaten welsh rarebit, I asked her to repeat the question because I loved the way she said welsh rarebit with a thick Polish accent. They took our picture too and said they would send it to us but they never did. Funnily enough, when they approached us, I felt slightly put out on Michael's behalf but he was so easy-going and accommodating with them, that I gave myself a slap on the wrist for being so churlish. Michael reminded me of my motto - ''Nothing matters. Everything matters''.
So, short but very sweet, this latest visit to London. I am so pleased that I contacted Michael because I love his photograph and I like him very much indeed. A good guy and a very good photographer.